It was communicated by Ernie Grunfeld last Friday that Zach Leonsis, son of Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, would represent the team at the NBA Draft Lottery tonight in New York City. The younger Leonsis, Twitter handle @ZacharyLeonsis, is a business development manager with dad’s ownership group, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and lists, “provided research and statistical analysis for formulation of business strategy for the Washington Wizards,” in the experience section of his Linked In profile.
The head of the Theodore Unit, Ted Leonsis, on his blog writes:
And to change it up, since we have fallen in the lottery the last two times we sent team members to the event, (a head coach, and a player), we are sending up a family member and employee of our sports team holding company to help us out. I hope it works.
Regardless of hindsight in the future, present or past, who the team sends as a representative probably doesn’t matter. But we walk down this path every year; superstition is as whimsical or worthless as we want it to be. And over time, you get a little less excited about the lottery because the value of winning it, in the big picture, has a diminished bearing on true team building. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t pour yourself some spirits and relish in the tradition of chance.
The Wizards got 19.9-percent of them on this day of May 30, 2012… something to look forward to, but first let’s take a brief trip down memory lane.
The year 2009 brought Flip Saunders as the team lottery rep. Flip attended the ceremony with the Wizards’ second-worst NBA record in tow, but ended up getting jumped by three teams (the Clippers, Thunder and Grizzlies). And then, before draft day, Ernie Grunfeld pulled the trigger on the infamous trade that sent the eventual fifth overall pick (Ricky Rubio) along with Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Yep, 2009 was the pits.
[Worth nothing: that season the Wizards actually won a coin toss against the Los Angeles Clippers for the right to be second in lottery positioning, as both teams finished with a league second-worst 19 wins; the Clips obviously ended up with Blake Griffin.]
Then, in May 2010, the Washington Post’s indomitable Dan Steinberg wrote:
I’ve seen New Orleans levees with better luck than this franchise. I’ve seen Enron accountants hit the right numbers more often than this franchise. I’ve seen naked unconscious vomiting beer pong players find more success with ping-pong balls than this franchise. And so on.
I mentioned some of the sad stats earlier in the season – in 12 of their 13 previous trips to the lottery, the Wizards/Bullets have either failed to move up or have actually moved down in the draft order. But that doesn’t do justice to the misery.
The franchise has sent John Nash, Irene Pollin, Tom Gugliotta, Chris Webber, Susan O’Malley, Rod Higgins, Juan Dixon, Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders to the NBA set in New Jersey, and it’s never worked. They’ve had their mascot walk all the way to Secaucus in a PR stunt. They’ve brought the horseshoe of the Kentucky Derby winner. One employee wore a lucky suit on lottery day. Two carried rabbit’s feet. A fourth said he wore lucky underwear. A fifth carried a lucky penny. A sixth carried a lucky coin. A seventh wore a dragon’s claw and something called “a ying-yang,” The Post reported.
So Irene Pollin and her (Abe’s) lucky yellow jacket brought the Wizards an improbable leap over four teams (the Nets, Wolves, Kings and Warriors) and 2010 No. 1 overall NBA draft pick John Wall.
And that’s who was sent to the draft lottery the very next season.
And the Wizards were subsequently jumped by the Clippers and Nets, finding themselves with pick No. 6 and a Jan Vesely.
Now, a Zack Leonsis…
So, what do you think? Is the younger Leonsis the right choice? And if not him, then who?
If a current Wizard, who would you send?
Or perhaps a member of the Wizards/Bullets alumni association… Who would you choose?
Otherwise, does it really even matter?
Good luck, Wizards… I think.