ShareBullets: Dunking Pictures & Monster Pixels | Wizards Blog Truth About

ShareBullets: Dunking Pictures & Monster Pixels

Updated: March 17, 2011

Some pictures, some writing, some links…

{Jordan Crawford in pre-game warm-ups.}

{Nope, not a dunk.}

{A put-back dunk from Yi.}

{No, this Nick Young dunk-intentioned drive to the basket didn’t work out like this one.}

My column last week in the DCist was all about Ted Leonsis’ little monsters. The unedited version is below:

Ted Leonsis once almost died in a plane crash. Well, he was on a plane when a crash landing was expected, but he and the other passengers came down just fine when the landing gear worked at the last minute. It’s what arose from the flight crew’s instruction to prepare for disaster that has landed Leonsis as partial leader of the Washington, D.C. sports landscape for years to come.

No, the 1983 almost-crash didn’t motivate Leonsis to become rich – he already was pretty successful. Rather, it provided him with perspective that redefined him as a person and steered him in a new direction. Leonsis drafted a list of 101 things he wanted to do in life, which (among other things) earned him an appearance on Oprah. But it was item number 40 in section V which put him where he is today: ‘Own a sports franchise (basketball, hockey or football).’

In 1999, Leonsis jumped at the opportunity to purchase the Washington Capitals from the late Abe Pollin, and a 44-percent minority stake in the rest of Pollin’s sporting interests (the Wizards, Mystics and Verizon Center among them). After Pollin’s passing in November 2009, and amongst various transactions in between, Leonsis’ holding company took complete ownership of Washington’s pro basketball and hockey franchises in June 2009 and re-branded themselves as Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

Leonsis’ rebuilt Capitals franchise has been in the playoff conversation for several years now, albeit with heavy doses of fan angst as the team has yet to find true post-season success. His Washington Wizards, however, are a disaster, with the main victims being fan interest and bottom lines. Fortunately, such casualties are only temporary in world of Leonsis.

Floating around the bottom of the barrel with all-rookie lineups, (more) overpaid veterans who can’t play due to knee problems, and over-partied youth (i.e., Andray Blatche) whose promise is ever fleeting, the Wizards now stand with a record of 16-47. Their most recent defeat coming at home at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in front of the same amount of people that annoyingly over-populate the Adams Morgan area on a summer Saturday night. If they don’t win eight of the 2010-11 season’s final 19 games (highly unlikely), the team will have achieved the worst three-year stretch in franchise history – coinciding with increased blog and online coverage as the way of the world.

Leonsis, a blogger himself, has taken to staunchly defending his empire, parrying away criticism with pixels. He even wrote about my colleague Rashad Mobley’s column in DCist last week as “smug,” “easy to write,” and “piling on.” (We get it, Leonsis both takes it and dishes it out. All is fair.)

It’s a rather genius move. But responding to the media is also nothing new with Leonsis, as he once wrote, “The Washington Post is amped up. It is its own story now.” Bloggers (or media traditionalists) blog, Leonsis blogs back and the bloggers blog back to the blogger. It’s an entertaining twister of digital typeface.

Feelings, sensitivities and emotions are involved from both sides of Leonsis’ online interaction with those covering this team, which is a natural result when opinion is true and not filtered through proper protocol and etiquette. But Leonsis’ transparency in the online world isn’t the only result.

On his blog, Ted’s Take, Leonsis uses titles like, “Just saying,” “Hotness” and “Brocial Network.” He shares links, promotes his business interests, subtly and not so subtly drops his opinion and is often open and upfront on his communication tool. He admits that his teams’ relationship with local for-profit media outlets is complicated, but tries his best to explain. He even communicates updates about the President Obama not coming to a Wizards game versus the Miami Heat through his blog, and as it turned out, the day that Gilbert Arenas got traded. (Thus, the potential for two black presidents to play to the crowd quickly went to zero.)

“Feeding the monster,” Leonsis often calls it, also favoring the phrases “algorithms” and “pixels” — the monster being the world wide web and those who drive it; the algorithm being how search engines, most prevalently Google, index web content; and pixels being the tiny squared elements of a screen to collaborate into words, pictures, videos, thought and opinion.

The former AOL executive who’s always based his savvy in the tech world, “gets it,” if you will. He knows that “feeding the monster” … or simply, creating an interaction between him (his franchises) and media of various natures drives attention to his world. It’s not about ego, rather it’s smartly about using a free means in a free market to promote his brand … even reaping the benefits as his new pro basketball team continues to crash and burn, or at least advance toward the revelation of a change in philosophy in the midst of a catastrophic season.

Leonsis blogs, he speaks his mind, he admits when he’s wrong, he defends his sporting investments (sure, sometimes blindly). But isn’t Leonsis just what the city of Washington needs? An dissenting opinion on this matter poses more challenges than an NBA rebulid.

But if there’s one question to Leonsis’ methods … why call “it” a monster? Deriving from the Latin word monstrum, a the use of “monster” implies an understanding defined in contrast to natural order. If anyone understands that the online platform is ever-increasingly becoming the natural way of the world (okay, it already has), it’s Leonsis. In 20 years, professional sports team owners not blogging will be far dwarfed by those who are.

Leonsis writes: “Feed the monster carefully. It can bite back. It can create fortunes or take them away. It can make you self important or render you irrelevant. The worst case for most media? Irrelevance and just being ignored. Monster hungry. Feed it today.”

For all the talk of supernatural beings seemingly intent on causing harm, Leonsis overall seems pretty amicable toward the monster. And there’s no reason not to be. It’s a way of winning in the interim regardless of on-court product; selling a product with a buy-back warranty redeemable only with future promises of greatness. The beast often defecates money in spite of itself, which may seem unnatural, but certainly not scary.


The graphic designers of the Washington City Paper have done a nice job of remixing the Wizards logo … However, I get the feeling that the next rendition of the team logo will incorporate “Washington” a lot more than it will incorporate “Wizards.”

In TAI’s column in the DCist this week, Rashad Mobley writes about riding the JaVale McGee wave. It’s all about crests of ridiculous athleticism and troughs of some of the worst basketball stupidity I’ve seen in a long time. It is what it is, I guess.

The energy of the young Wizards players goes much further toward establishing the intended identity of the team going forward than Andray Blatche ever has, or ever likely will. Blatche and “energy” and “toughness” do not go hand-and-hand. Talent-wise, he is a rich man’s Kwame Brown. Could you imaging Blatche fitting in on the OKC Thunder or LA Lakers? Read this from Bullets Nation in Exile.
[Bullets Forever]

Rashard Lewis is probably done for the year. Oh well, there goes that. Next year, he’ll probably begin the season as a small forward getting paid $21.1 million dollars before ultimately moving to the bench.
[Wizards Insider]

John Wall always does this during the National Anthem.

A run-down of potential draft picks for the Wizards.
[Mr. Irrelevant]

Everyone loves the Oklahoma City model … but what if they never win? Let’s call a spade a spade and say their “model” is one part luck, one part having a good, creative, forward-thinking GM. Ernie Grunfeld may be respected around the league, but he is not part of a new generation of professional basketball team leadership. Say Ted Leonsis keeps him past this season, because Grunfeld has done what Leonsis has asked him to do — say for two more seasons after this season — won’t it look silly to seek a new GM three seasons into Leonsis’ rebuild? Or does the owner intend on keeping the same leadership with the franchise 10 years and running? Sounds stale to me. Anyway, read what Mike Prada wrote about the Oklahoma City Thunder.
[SB Nation DC]

The Redskins are taking back the use of their name from the Washington Post using it on their blog that covers the team. This further goes to illustrate that Dan Snyder and the idiots around him are more interested in business and self-preservation than serving the fans. I’m ready to stop caring about the franchise and to stop being a fan of Dan Snyder’s team … but no decision has been made just yet.
[Washington City Paper]

{After feasting upon the scraps of the Wizards, Russell Westbrook popped out a food baby in the form of a basketball. Kinda gross, but hey, that’s the miracle of food baby birth.}

Kyle Weidie on EmailKyle Weidie on GoogleKyle Weidie on InstagramKyle Weidie on LinkedinKyle Weidie on TwitterKyle Weidie on Youtube
Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.