- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2005

No-time All-Star and no-account Darius Miles fired Maurice Cheeks as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Technically, general manager John Nash delivered the bad news, but Nash made his choice in January when he had to be persuaded by Cheeks to suspend Miles for insubordination.

“This was a very difficult decision to make because Maurice Cheeks is a very, very good coach and an equally good person,” Nash said, presumably with a straight face.

Miles, on the other hand, is a 23-year-old nobody with a history of tardiness and behavior problems who hasn’t proved anything except that he can average 12 points a game.

So it’s easy to see why Nash signed Miles to a six-year, $48 million contract in September.

“If he had gone to college, Darius would be a senior right now,” Nash said then. “Due to his youth, he has an opportunity to continue to grow.”

Obviously, Nash has a thing for Miles.

According to the Oregonian, a Blazers attorney drafted a proposal titled “Settlement Agreement, Release and Covenant Not to Sue.” Under the terms outlined in the reported document, Miles would withdraw a grievance he filed for his two-game suspension, and in return the Blazers would agree to pay him for lost wages plus interest.

Plus interest.

Because, well, when a player reportedly directs a racial epithet at his coach, plus interest is the least the team can do.

This comes from an organization that made a 25-point public pledge to field a team that has character and is accountable to the community.

Well, the team has no character, and it’s a menace to the Portland community.

Earlier this season, Qyntel Woods pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal abuse after reports of dog fighting. He has since been released.

Last season, Bonzi Wells was suspended for two games for a tirade directed at Cheeks. The season before, he was suspended for one game for the same offense. Wells was later traded.

For most of the past decade, the Blazers, led technically by Rasheed Wallace, won and made fools of themselves. Now, they just make fools of themselves.

Cheeks was the last stand-up guy in the organization. He also provided the team’s last highlight.

During the 2003 playoffs, when 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert forgot the words to the national anthem, Cheeks walked over to her, put his arm around her and sang it with her.

“I wish I could help some of my players like that,” Cheeks said.

That’s the kind of character you build a team around.

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