NOBODY ASKED ME (but Wizards) — Media Partners, Beal's Disrespect & Preseason Basketball | Wizards Blog Truth About

NOBODY ASKED ME (but Wizards) — Media Partners, Beal’s Disrespect & Preseason Basketball

Updated: October 12, 2016

OK, so cribbing off the great David Aldridge, no one asked me about these things … but that’s kind of what a blog is for. (Partially.) So here are three unsolicited takes:


#1) The New Deal.

We knew it was happening—that Ted Leonsis smartly formed his own media network years ago for a few reasons. Primarily: he “owns” the franchise (Wizards and Capitals, etc.), and he should not be beholden, in this day and age, to an entity he’s not vested that also happens to own the rights to broadcast his team events. So he slowly built out the Monumental Network, which was going to serve some kind of utility regardless (to broadcast WNBA, Arena Football, and D-League games, as it turns out), as leverage against Comcast.

Comcast Mid-Atlantic, realizing that being sort of a by-proxy shill for the Redskins (Larry Michael) would not alone hold it up, gave some of their company—equity in it—to Leonsis/Monumental in exchange for continuing to be able to do the same exact work in broadcasting the Wizards and Capitals (until 2030 or whenever). Dan Steinberg has the full, necessary rundown on The Washington Post’s website (that is, if you have not already used up your free articles for this month).

It’s like if a new (equity) partner joined a new law firm but said: OK, you guys do the work and I’ll pick out the suits.

Fine, it’s not exactly like that—far from it. But make no mistake: this was an extremely smart move by Leonsis. The more passive money he can/will make off his team(s), the better his investments in said team(s) will be (theoretically, to a degree–Randy Wittman was cheap is what I’m getting at).

Nobody asked me but you should keep two things in mind:

  1. When someone has an equity stake in something they, have a say and/or can influence what happens within that certain something. Natural instinct. Now, no one is saying that Leonsis is a ‘Dan Snyder’ here, referencing Steinberg’s “could raise the same questions about objectivity that have been directed at the Daniel Snyder-controlled ESPN 980,” but Leonsis has also been an angel investor in SB Nation, holding a tight relationship with its father, Jim Bankoff. Conversations happen. And I cannot think that referees and umpires are always totally objective, either.
  2. With partnerships comes special access. Look, the lines are already grey between journalism and entertainment. (Full Disclosure: I wrote about this very subject for SB Nation once upon a time.) You’ll see, for example, that the voices of Wizards radio and television partners (Glenn Consor, Dave Johnson, Steve Buckhantz, Phil Chenier) have access to Wizards training camp that Candace Buckner of The Post, for example, does not. But it’s clear that those biased voices, some of whom also take flights with the team on road trips, are more part of the entertainment package than entities expected to view the team with a critical eye. It’s the buddy system and it’s OK, but that doesn’t always serve the consumer. Again, we’re talking about sports, here, not the FDA product recall report. And again, I’m saying this is far from ever becoming a “Dave McKenna Deadspin article called “How Dan Snyder Bought Off The D.C. Media” thing, but it does remind me of when local television stations were given preferential treatment by the Redskins for being “media partners”—WJLA had to report from the parking lot during one training camp.

With new media, there must come new checks and balances (not sure it’s working with this Donald Trump thing that America has cooking and all, but you get it). Are we seeing—painfully and incrementally over time—external checks and balances change the Dan Snyder we knew (or at least make him slightly more self-aware)? I’m bashful about admitting it, but maybe. And is Ted Leonsis nearly the antithesis of Snyder? More so than not (which isn’t hard to do).

Ultimately, in this particular instance, hairs can naturally, or forcibly, be split. Broadcast rights are different than journalism. Comcast just happens to do both.

Bradley Beal Face

#2) Disrespect.

So, speaking of, there was an article on the CSN Midatlantic website on Tuesday titled, “WIZARDS’ BRADLEY BEAL SEES BEING DEFENDED BY BIGS ON PERIMETER AS ‘DISRESPECT’”—in all caps; some fonts convert to that style automatically but for this particular website’s CMS, you also have to do it manually, apparently.

Bradley Beal looked great on Monday night, by the way. Always good to remember: he’s the one Wizard who can really win you games. Like: just taking a win from the other team with murderous jump shots.

The pertinent excerpt from the article via CSN’s J. Michael:

In Monday’s 90-88 loss to the New York Knicks, Beal had 17 points but it was how he scored that causes optimism going into his fifth season. He had the 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis and the 6-11 Guillermo Hernangomez defending him on switches, spread the floor and blew by them to the basket. When he had the undersized Brandon Jennings defending him on the inbounds play, he posted him up to receive the entry pass in the paint and attacked him there.

“I have to view it as disrespect,” Beal said of having bigs attempting to guard him at the arc. “I have to take advantage of it if I want to be an elite guard. … A few times I over-dribbled when I could’ve taken a shot.”

This is silly because:

  1. Beal’s talented but what respect, exactly, has he earned at this point? Like, do we have to do a “levels-of-respect” blog post? It might start: Tier 1: Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, other one-namers and champions; Tier 2: Barkley, Stockton, Malone, Ewing, guys who never won it all; Next Tier: everyone else, especially those who start talking about disrespect in the preseason. The same exercise could easily be done with regular NBA starters from the past five years and Beal wouldn’t place in the top 30.
  2. Maybe the switching was part of New York’s plan, maybe it was just bad preseason defense—either way, is it really worth [extreme Bradley Beal voice] the claim of the lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T?
  3. It’s also not unusual for a team to give an opposing star player different looks on defense. And sometimes, if that star player’s team offense is running well, the defense will be forced to further change those looks. Opportunity or disrespect? Well, if Beal needs to create the illusion of the latter to be more aggressive regarding the former, then maybe it all means something.



#3) Preseason Basketball.

So the good sir Mr. Rashad Mobley, the senior, chopped-up Wizards preseason game 3 versus the Knicks. But I have thoughts too! Bullets:

  • Some early Bradley Beal action featured that two-man game with Gortat where Gortat just stands with the ball while Beal tries to lose and juke his man off the ball. Thought that was a relic of #WittmanBall, huh? And, well, sure, it uses up precious shot clock time … but Beal is the team’s best scorer, maybe it’s necessary in the half court, it tires out the defender, and maybe Beal likes it. So, Beal With It is what I’m trying to say.
  • Otto Porter seemed to actually hold his ground better against Carmelo Anthony than in the past. But don’t get me wrong: Melo still got the position he wanted a couple times and drew some fouls. But Otto also made Carmelo work on defense, was killing that side/back-step jumper, and he made all-defensive team worthy plays.
  • There seemed to be a ton of moving screens called on the Wizards—Ian Mahinmi picked up two and Johnny O’Bryant and Gortat each picked up one. Preseason, I guess.
  • I’ve gotten on Marcin Gortat about his defense—he was ranked 16th amongst centers in Defensive Real-Plus Minus last season; so, about average—but always gotta keep in mind that he has the tools to be better than that (even great): he runs the floor well and he’s capable of moving his feet well, like when Wall lost his defender early in the second quarter and Gortat quickly stepped in to contain the dribble.
  • Tomas Satoransky continues to show a great feel for how to operate in the open court, always keeping his head up and knowing when to slow things down versus push the ball. He’s quite calculated. Hopefully John Wall will work with him a ton on that elbow jumper—Saty needs reps, too. The Knicks in unison sagged into the paint off screening action late in the first quarter, giving the Czech Republican (sic) all the room in the world. He clanked it. But Satoransky did this Euro-step thing that was pretty sweet.
  • Defense: it looked the best it has this preseason because of a few apparent, and simple, things: the Wizards did a much better job at recovering in rotating after playing help defense, and you could audibly hear most all guys communicating over television, not just one or two.

And that’s all you didn’t ask for.

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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.