Washington Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke with the media for over 30 minutes on Thursday evening from team’s training camp on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. TAI was there. Below is part two of all that (here is part one) — some stuff in video, some in text.
TED Leonsis On…
>> TED LEONSIS ON: SHOOTERS
Shooters! Will somebody think about the SHOOTERS!?!?!
Oh wait, Leonsis is. He’s saying Bradley Beal can be that shooter and more. Sign me up.
“We have a couple players that start hitting 3 balls and being able to hit spot-up jumpers and our team dynamic changes. And we think Bradley [Beal], we think [Martell] Webster, we think Cartier [Martin] — these are all players that can shoot, and we didn’t have much of that last year.”
1) Cartier was lighting it up during 5-on-5 action on Thursday night;
2) My gut feeling du jour tells me that Webster could be a sleeper signing for Ernie Grunfeld.
>> TED LEONSIS ON: JOHN WALL’S CHANGING VOICE
“His body’s changed. He’s thicker and bigger. His voice is deeper. He’s becoming a man and then you realize, he should still be in college.” -Ted L.
Shortly before Leonsis spoke with the media on Thursday night, he and Wall shot baskets together on a side goal while Wall’s teammates practiced.
Ahh… “Becoming A Man” … takes me back to some book I had to read as a young fry in Catholic school, educating me on the wonders of the body and coitus interruptus.
Here we wonder if stress injuries to a 22-year old’s knee are part of becoming a man.
>> TED LEONSIS ON: HEALTH TECHNOLOGY
“I don’t know if any of you have seen the ‘zero-G’ treadmill that we have. It doesn’t sound like much, but we were the first team in the league to buy that,” said Leonsis when asked about what achievements in off-court player development he was most proud of since taking ownership of the Wizards.
Indeed, the anti-gravity treadmill, called the “Alter-G,” helps with recovery and conditioning. Over two-thirds of the NBA has one now. From the NBA.com/Lakers website:
“Once the machine is turned on the user looks like they’re standing up through the sunroof of a car. The Alter-G treadmill creates a seal around the user’s waist and then inflates to create a pressurized environment that can take away up to 80 percent of the users body weight, lessening the pounding to the joints.”
And yes, the Wizards were the first team in the NBA to buy such a treadmill — in 2006 for about $75,000. Makes one wonder: Why, after initially hurting his knee in April 2007, was there so much controversy surrounding Gilbert Arenas and over-rehabbing it to the point where it made his injury worse? God, that Arenas guy was a mess. Also note that political fact-checkers would find that this occurred before Leonsis was majority owner of the Wizards.
‘That’s the thing about sports. It’s what I’ve said for 12 years, it’s the hardest industry/business I know. What other business do ping-pong balls drive a lot of your success and make your investment worth more or less?”
This is a tough one. If your investments are tied up in ping-pong balls, then you’ve achieved anti-success in the NBA. What makes professional sports tough (well, a small fraction of it) is people like me playing ‘gotcha’ behind a keyboard.
Otherwise, it’s the unscripted chance and drama (in spite of referees) which makes sports tough, but yet so very, very wonderful. It’s taking that last shot or hitting that curve ball that makes sports tough.
Sports ownership is a business that can be treated any number of ways by the wide range of individuals who own teams for various reasons. Also, it’s every man’s dream to own a sports team. Thousand, millions, are envious of those who own sports teams (even knowing how hard it must be). So there’s that.
>> TED LEONSIS ON: GETTING PUMMELLED BY THE MEDIA
“You get pummelled. You guys pummel us here, you do. You pummel so much in this new world, you become numb.”
Again, the heart loathes to bleed for a professional sports owner who also owns the arena, but we get it. You gotta have thick skin. I imagine owners in New York or Philadelphia get pummelled more, whereas the pummelling is more quaint, perhaps snarky in D.C.
Plus, Leonsis is probably also talking about absorbing a pummelling for inept players. It’s all part of the game and not his fault (slightly), but that happens when you give guys like Andray Blatche a contract extension and then there’s subsequent failure all around — and Blatche is still getting paid by Leonsis.
Otherwise, the perspective is this:
This man cares about his teams.
He cares about doing it the right way. (Or at least with good intent — Blatche’s extention, although grossly ill-adivsed to the point of negligent, was filled with good intent. It’s a lesson learned, we assume.)
Leonsis is not Donald Sterling or Jimmy Dolan or anything near the rampant, inept owners across professional sports.
Most admirably, Leonsis “gets it” in terms of ensuring that a connection to the Washington community is as much a pillar of franchise building as having a star player (it’s just that the latter always helps enhance the former).
Give it some time. The Wizards will be OK. Leonsis is great for the team and great for the community. Patience is hard to ask for when the days fly by and losses pile up. But what else are you going to do?