The Washington Post

Ted Leonsis compares the Wizards to the Nats

Via Comcast SportsNet

In addition to providing D.C. fans with a great deal of excitement and D.C. media members with a great deal of copy, the 2012 Nationals accomplished another feat: providing D.C. owners with a strong narrative.

Rebuilding is often a messy process, and the Nats were an easy punching bag for years as they slogged through losing campaigns. Then, suddenly, they won a division pennant, and everyone loved them. And so Ted Leonsis used the Nats as a metaphor in explaining the Wizards’ rebuild to Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller.

“I don’t know if there’s another team in the league that’s had the kind of roster turnover that we have,” Leonsis told Miller in a piece that ran before and after Tuesday’s season opener. “Basically, when I bought the team, there’s not a single player who’s on the team now that was there when I bought the team.

“But I saw no choice. I didn’t like the team environment, I didn’t like the coachability of the team. John [Wall] was struggling because there was no vet who would mentor him. And then we saw — post the trade where we brought Nene in — the team changed like that.

“We saw that with the Nationals this year,” Leonsis continued. “All of a sudden, the light goes on, and it’s hey, we’re good. And it happened fast. The light went on. And they got great, because their young players grew together. And then through some trades, through free agency, all of the sudden they have a united and dynamic team, that’ll be really good for a long, long time.”

So Miller then asked when the light switch would go on for these Wizards.

“Well, you never know when it’s going to happen,” Leonsis said. “It’s kind of catching lightning in a bottle. And I don’t know if it’ll be this year or next year, but I believe we have really good young players with upside, and that’s the excitement about building around young players.”

Finally, Miller asked Leonsis if there were any misperceptions about the owner that he wanted to clear up.

“I think when you put yourself in the fishbowl, being in sports, it’s an unnatural light on you,” he said. “You’re not prepared for it. And then I doubled it up by being so accountable. I’ve tried to mature as an owner. I’m still very inquisitive. Every other owner I meet, everyone in the league, I talk to, because I haven’t broken the code yet. None of my teams have won a championship. And frankly, that’s all it’s about now. We want to win.”

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