Tracee Hamilton

For his next trick, Leonsis should fix the wizard

Irene Pollin and Ted Leonsis pose during the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery.
Irene Pollin and Ted Leonsis pose during the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 11, 2011

If I were a suspicious person, I might wonder whether this week's "leak" of a new Washington Wizards logo was a trial balloon. If so, that loud pop you heard was reaction from fans of the Wizards as well as fans of good taste.

The new logo was actually the old logo, that flying wizard-like thing that we've had to put up with for 14 years, but featuring new colors - red, white and blue. It's no secret that owner Ted Leonsis plans to change the team's colors to a patriotic palette that would match that of the Capitals. After all, the Wiz and Capitals co-own a timeshare, so a consistent decor at Verizon Center just makes sense. (And let's face it: "Rock the Slate Blue" isn't much of a slogan.)

The "leak" - if that's what it was - came via a photo of the (world's ugliest) jacket that included all the NBA logos, including a tricolor version of the Wizards' current one. One of Michael Lee's readers alerted him to the jacket, Dan Steinberg linked to a photo of it, and by the end of the day it had magically - magically! - reverted to its old, ugly self. But it created enough of a buzz on the Internet that Leonsis was forced to comment on his blog.

"We won't get into confirming or denying the validity of any logo designs," he wrote. "We appreciate and understand the excitement surrounding the new color scheme, and we are planning a comprehensive brand launch. We will announce the specific date for our public unveiling event soon and look forward to sharing our new brand identify [sic] with our fans."

"Comprehensive brand launch" sounds exciting, but that same day, also on his blog, Leonsis made it pretty clear that the name of the team likely will not change. This is a shame, not because the team isn't reverting to the Bullets - that's a non-starter, folks - but because I think it's going to be difficult to design a decent logo that says "Washington" around the name "Wizards." And it would probably set some kind of record for one franchise to have three nicknames in less than 20 years. On the other hand, this might be the only chance for the Washington club to set any kind of record for a while.

But it's Leonsis's money, and if a new nickname is not going to happen, how about giving us a new Wizard, a hipper Wizard, a tougher Wizard, coupled with some element that conveys our nation's capital? I'm thinking Gandalf or Dumbledore or even He Who Shall Not Be Named, not the ones from Waverly Place.

I realize this isn't easy, because wizards were not - as far as we know - an integral part of the founding of this country. (Although I've always had my suspicions about Ben Franklin. No human is that good at that many things.)

But please don't just give the fans a new color scheme and call it good. Give them some reason to want to buy Wizards gear - and it needs to be a fashion reason, or a design reason, because right now and for the near future the Wizards' play is not going to move a lot of product.

So please, Ted, when you wave your wizard wand before your "comprehensive brand launch," give us something beyond the same logo in red, white and blue. Give us a tough, gritty wizard. Then give us some tough, gritty Wizards.

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