Monday, June 14, 2010
A New Era in Washington
On his first day as majority owner of the Washington Wizards, Ted Leonsis laid out his hopes for the future pretty soundly.
"I want to know what Washington, DC, will be like when we win a championship, and that's my hope, and dream, and aspiration to bring this city closer together, and to create those life-long memories for families."
Leonsis has been majority owner of the NHL's Washington Capitals and WNBA's Washington Mystics, and now he has created "Monumental Sports and Entertainment" which encompasses the Capitals, Mystics, and now the Wizards.
Comcast SportsNet's Chris Miller interviewed Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld after the press conference, and Grunfeld emphasized that Leonsis is fully committed to his new team.
"[Leonsis] has a real passion for [basketball]. He's a big fan, and he's a real intelligent guy," Grunfeld said.
Leonsis has been known as one of the most fan-friendly owners in sports ever since he bought the Capitals in the late 1990's. He knows the importance of reaching out to everyone to come together for the common cause of great sports in the city of DC, and he appears to be completely committed to making this community come together through professional athletics.
"We need to be much more family oritented and female-centric in the way we approach our presentation," Leonsis said at his press conference Thursday. "...reaching out to the (local) colleges...I want bloggers, people on facebook."
Leonsis then told the crowd how he still glady accepts anybody as friends on facebook, and encouraged people to add him. He would also like to reach out to the communities of Virginia, Maryland, and DC even more.
Leonsis has emphasized scouting and developing his own talent since he overhauled the Capitals roster in 2004. His rebuilding efforts with the Capitals bore fruit the past three seasons as they have steadily improved their record and made the playoffs each year. In 2010, the Capitals won the President's Trophy as the best NHL team over the regular season. Would Leonsis continue to build a team from scratch in the NBA, too?
Leonsis spoke with Miller of Comcast SportsNet and reiterated that his way of building a team will not change.
"Focus on the signals and not the noise...drafting, scouting, and team development," Leonsis said. "When you have good people a lot of confidence in them, things turn out the right way."
Leonsis' goal is to "Build for a new, relevant and bright future" in Washington, DC sports and entertainment. The next step?
Leonsis' first duty as owner of the Washington Wizards will be to draft number one overall in the NBA draft two weeks from now. He will not have to make a difficult decision because as he said, "I won't make the pick, our General Manager Ernie Grunfeld, will make the pick." When asked if Kentucky point guard and freshman sensation John Wall will be the pick, Leonsis can only smile and say, ""It's good theater for the NBA to have people wondering what we're going to do,"
When Chris Miller asked about what Wizard's fans have to look forward to next season, Grunfeld said, "I think it's going to be exciting next year with the number one pick coming...there's a buzz about that."
Grunfeld would not reveal who the pick will be, but the Washington Post is reporting that the Wizards will not even work out any of the drafts other top players at Verizon Center before the draft.
All signs point to Wall being the number one overall pick. And all signs point to Ted Leonsis knowing what to do when he has a slam dunk pick with the first overall selection. In 2004, the Capitals selected NHL All-Star Alexander Ovechkin, built their team around him, and have never looked back. Leonsis is hoping he can do the same with the Wizards, and build this community into one tremendous, exciting sports town.
Monumental Sports and Entertainment's tenure in office has begun.