In Ted Leonsis’s first season as owner of the Wizards, the team didn’t have much success on the court, as it finished with just 23 wins. And in an interview on Monday with Chris Miller of Comcast SportsNet, Leonsis admitted that the Wizards weren’t very successful at the box office, either.
“We lost money last year,” Leonsis said, matter-of-factly, when asked about NBA Commissioner David Stern’s claims that 22 of the league’s 30 teams lost money last year.
Leonsis was fined $100,000 last September for expressing his thoughts on the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement but he tried to avoid commenting on the specifics of the sensitive negotiations, which are expected to continue until the CBA expires at midnight on Friday. The owners and the players’ union are still far apart and a lockout seems inevitable. Leonsis jokingly responded to Miller’s questions about a possible lockout by asking, “Are you trying to get me fined?”
“I’m not authorized and I really am not involved. I can’t comment on it. But I trust in David Stern,” Leonsis said. “I have to just leave it to the commissioner and the league. Certainly here in Washington, we want to play and I’m hopeful that they come to a positive resolution.”
Leonsis left Jan Vesely’s introductory news conference for Dallas, where the owners will hold their board of governors meeting on Tuesday and could possibly authorize a lockout if the two sides don’t reach an agreement before the deadline. The NBA has changed ownership 12 times in the past 11 years, with six -- the Wizards, Charlotte, Detroit, Golden State, New Jersey, and New Orleans -- coming in the last two years.
Stern has stated that his goal is to make the league profitable for his owners, and the union estimates that the league is looking to make cuts of more than $8 billion over 10 years. San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt heads the labor relations committee, which features some of the new owners in Boston’s Wyc Grousbeck, Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert, Dallas’ Mark Cuban and Oklahoma City’s Clay Bennett.
“The commissioner and the union, they are going to work really, really hard to come to an agreement,” Leonsis said. “And I’ve given my proxy to the negotiating committee and I have a lot of confidence that we’re on the same page. I’m hopeful that we can play next year.”