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Ted Leonsis officially takes over ownership of the Washington Wizards

New team owner Ted Leonsis, with his wife Lynn, told the media that the "Wizards are a sleeping giant" in the "basketball-mad" District.
New team owner Ted Leonsis, with his wife Lynn, told the media that the "Wizards are a sleeping giant" in the "basketball-mad" District. (Mark Gail/the Washington Post)
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By Mike Wise
Friday, June 11, 2010

Most of us will never be members of the Dot.Com Millionaires Club. We will never be able to afford a McLean mansion and leave our loved ones more than they will ever need to eat or live.

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Unless our surnames are Gates or Buffett (Warren, not Jimmy), if we ever ask our business partners to stand and be acknowledged, it probably won't look like what Monumental Sports & Entertainment looked like Thursday -- BET co-founder Sheila Johnson and a Brooks Brothers showroom come to life.

But in Washington recently, we can identify with a person -- irrespective of their financial station -- who says, "When the team isn't good, people are in pain."

Ted Leonsis mentioned many more newsy things at Verizon Center on Thursday on his first full day as owner of the Wizards.

He said Gilbert Arenas should be hugged, not mugged.

He paid homage to the late Abe Pollin, the only owner the Wizards franchise has known in Washington, while simultaneously saying real change is coming. He said the "Wizards are a sleeping giant" in the "basketball-mad" District.

He used terms like "connective tissue" and "personal bandwidth" and words like "proxy" and "deliverables," all these catchphrases that sounded as if he was charged with turning around a struggling Internet company rather than a reeling pro basketball team.

But this is the one that grabbed me: "When the team isn't good, people are in pain." Leonsis enunciated that last word with so much emphasis he actually appeared pained saying it.

Why do we get Ted like no other sports owner in town? Because he appears to get what Washington has been through with its pro teams lately and because he very possibly suffered along with their fans.

Suffered through 4-12 with the Redskins, a franchise Leonsis curiously never mentioned during an hour-long spiel on the dais.

Suffered through 205 Nationals losses in two seasons. Suffered through a 19-63 Wizards season in 2008-09, and Arenas playing Tombstone in the Wizards' locker room last season.

Nothing quite hurt like the one bright spot going down so hard in the first round, his top-seeded Capitals caving against a muck-it-up Montreal team in the Stanley Cup playoffs.


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