Bank Shots: Leonsis needs to step it up
Ted Leonsis has done a fantastic job of revitalizing the culture of the Washington Capitals. From the 2003-04 season to the 2006-07 season, not including the lockout season in 2004-05, the Caps failed to make the playoffs (not to mention had some of the worst jerseys in the NHL aside from the alternate blue uniform).
In the early stage of the 2007-08 season, the Caps had the worst record in the league. Leonsis fired then-Head Coach Glen Hanlon and brought in Santa Claus’ sibling Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau and the “Great Eight” Alex Ovechkin led the Caps from the bottom to winning the Southeast Division, albeit to lose in the first round of the playoffs to that team from Philadelphia that thinks Halloween is a year-round holiday. Oh yeah, did I mention that Leonsis changed the team colors to our nation’s grand red, white and blue, and gave the Caps their fantastic uniforms?
The Caps have made it to the playoffs every season since, and although this season is painful to watch, Leonsis has given the franchise a huge identity change.
What Leonsis did with the Caps is what he’s currently trying to do with the Wizards, the men’s basketball team in Washington that he owns.
Just like with the Capitals, Leonsis is trying to rebuild the Wiz Kids from the ground up by drafting and (attempting) to develop those players. Let me not forget that Leonsis also changed the Wizards colors and uniforms to match the Capitals, which makes sense because all teams that play in our nation’s great capital should sport the red, white, and blue. The Redskins get an exception because they don’t play in D.C., they play in Landover, which contrary to their name, is located in Maryland. Weird.
There’s just one problem with this formula. It doesn’t win you championships in the NBA.
Just take a look at recent NBA Champions.
The Boston Celtics (poor Rondo), Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat all won world championships by acquiring either stars or players that perfectly fit their systems.
The Celtics were an eyesore to watch before acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. That season, they somehow overcame three losses to the Washington Wizards in the regular season to win the title over the Lakers, who had acquired Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.
The next season, the Lakers added a star defender and elite rapper in Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace even though he isn’t so peaceful himself) and won two straight championships.
The next season, the Mavs won it all after previously trading for three former Wizards (would ya look at that) who played key roles and they had signed Lord Voldemort, I mean Jason Kidd, a few seasons before.
Last season, the Miami Heat took home the title after singing some guy named LeBron James and a real-life Na’vi from Pandora named Chris Bosh.
Although they have not won anything, the Clippers went from the biggest joke in NBA history to a fan-favorite and title contender via free agency. Yes, they drafted Blake Griffin, but were still bad with him before Chris Paul came to town.
Leonsis has stayed firm with his position to pass up winning formulas from recent seasons, and it has shown with the lack of success the Wizards have had (don’t bother looking at their record this season before Wall took the court).
The Wizards also fail to draft well because their General Manager, Ernie Grunfeld, doesn’t know how to draft. The Wizards were only good when Grunfeld brought in Arenas, Butler and Jamison. His only draft pick that has panned out, so far, is John Wall (Bradley Beal pending) and that was a no-brainer.
Facts support that Leonsis’ position can help a team win in the regular season and maybe a playoff series, but it won’t bring D.C. any championships.
Unless Leonsis comes to the light soon, Wizards fans, let’s enjoy mediocrity and continue to cheer on the Wiz Kids with the hope that they’ll surprise us one day.