Ted Leonsis says Wizards have bigger goals than one playoff series win


(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis spoke with several media outlets after his team finished off the Bulls Tuesday night, and he sounded a similar note: pleased, but not finished.

“I’ll be sincere here, I really believed in our plan,” Leonsis told Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller, when asked about people who had doubts. “I thought building through the draft and getting lucky and getting John Wall and Bradley Beal and Trevor Booker, having three guys on their rookie contracts starting in the playoffs is really an accomplishment. And we’ve got upside in the franchise.

“I thought we were gonna be good last year; we had a lot of injuries,” Leonsis continued. “I was very confident going into this year we could be a playoff team, and every man felt that. The staff felt that. And so right now I would say that we’re not satisfied. We think we belong, and we think we can go deep into the playoffs and that’s what our goal is.”

Leonsis also suggested that this year’s playoff success was at least partly attributable to character.

“We have really high integrity players,” he said. “They really like each other. They don’t care who scores. They’re very respectful to the coach and the staff, and I’m really proud of them. And I think having talent is important, but really having that heart and that desire to be successful as a unit [is also]. These guys talk about our fans all the time, and they’re thrilled. And so I couldn’t be happier that we get a couple days off, we’ll figure out who we play next and we’ll come back to Verizon Center and those great fans and play the next round.”

Meanwhile, Leonsis downplayed his preseason call for a playoff berth in a conversation with NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner:

“Aww, I think it’s more hugging them and loving them, more than lighting a fire,” Leonsis told NBA.com Tuesday night. “But we’re in it together. We did set expectations. We said, ‘To those whom much is given, much is expected.’

“Frankly I promised that we would have a long, hard rebuild but there would be a big payoff at the end. And sometimes you have to be bad to get good….So we deserved this. The good news is that no one in there is overly jubilant. Stay hungry – why not? We’re playing well, a good team, lots of talent. It’s a confident group and they’re not unfocused just by winning one round.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.

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Dan Steinberg · April 30, 2014