Washington Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis addressed the media on Thursday afternoon, covering many topics during his roughly half-hour news conference, including elevated expectations for this season, the process of constructing a winner and peering ahead rather than dwelling on past missteps.
Leonsis began by talking about a documentary he watched recently on the founder of Ferrari and specifically how he became the first racecar owner and driver to scrap the rearview mirror.
“When they asked him why, he said, ‘I don’t want anyone looking back. I want my drivers only looking forward,’ ” Leonsis said. “I think that’s an appropriate way to kick off the season.
“We just came off a couple of months where there was lots of angst and drama and discussion and pixels being generated. I don’t care about any of that. I care that tomorrow’s the first preseason game and the 26th is the kickoff of a new season. I’m very excited. I’m very positive.”
Leonsis was referring to the NBA lockout that threatened to cancel the season until the sides finally reached an accord. With a settlement reached, teams are set to play 66 games during a compressed season that will include many sets of back-to-backs and even at times three in a row.
Leonsis briefly discussed his involvement in those negotiations and some media reports labeling him as a hard-line owner. According to Leonsis, who voted yes on the deal, one account suggested he was “a hawk” following a particular meeting. Leonsis in fact had not even attended that meeting because he was at a funeral.
“I have to chuckle at some of the characterizations,” Leonsis said. “There’s lots of things that were written where you could look at and say, ‘I’d like to set the record straight or settle the score,’ but that would violate the Ferrari [call to] pull off the rearview mirror and only look forward. I think that’s in everyone’s best interest.”
As for the Wizards, who were 23-59 last season, Leonsis said he’s enthusiastic about the young players, particularly No. 6 overall pick Jan Vesely and 18th-pick Chris Singleton, has seen dedication from Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee and that the long-term plan is progressing smoothly.
“I want to see upside. I want to see improvement. I want to see chemistry being developed, and I want to see how the young kids play,” he said. “The only way we’re going to know if we drafted and we developed well is if they get the minutes, and so I’m more concerned with process right now than output, although we’re here to win, so I want to see us winning more games.”