“Where do you go after Boston?” his wife wondered.
“And I didn’t know,” Leonsis said in a phone conversation Tuesday evening. “I couldn’t figure it out.”
Which makes sense. Because in the last 19 days, Leonsis has gone from D.C. to Atlanta to Toronto to Atlanta to D.C. to Atlanta to D.C. to Boston to New York to Pittsburgh to New York to Boston to Pittsburgh to Detroit (another board meeting) to D.C. to Baltimore to D.C. to Chicago (another board meeting) to Pittsburgh and then back to D.C. in time for Wednesday’s playoffpalooza. In those 19 days, he’s been to nine cities and seen eight NHL playoff games, eight NBA playoff games and one Arena Football League game. My exhaustion this week is real. His is probably worse.
On one Friday during this stretch, he told a friend he was glad it was Sunday. That earned a weird look. That morning, he had slept until 10 o’clock. “I don’t think I have done that since college,” said Leonsis, who typically gets five hours a night. He has flown back to the East Coast from China and Hong Kong in the past, and “when your body just shuts down from the jet lag — that’s how I felt.”
He is, of course, thrilled that his Caps and Wizards are both still alive and challenging for berths in the conference finals. He’s especially thrilled that the Wizards won both their home games last week, preventing his two teams from playing simultaneous elimination games Wednesday night. He’ll be at Verizon Center watching the Caps and Penguins play Game 7 while following the Wizards and Celtics in Game 5 on a mobile device.
But before that, he has an allergist appointment, an AFL meeting, a Georgetown meeting, an internal business meeting, a one-on-one with a CFO and then a project meeting, keeping him booked from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on what I believe might be the most important day in his tenure.
“I think it’s a strategy that if you’re really, really busy, you can’t stress out before the game,” he said. “I guess from 5:30 to 7:30 [p.m.] is when they’ll let me get stressful.”
He has other strategies, too. Try to work out whenever possible. Hydrate. Eat well, although that’s hard in Pittsburgh, where his group was offered cheeseburgers, milkshakes and homemade ice cream Sunday night. (“It’s like an arms race to drown you in sugar and sweets,” he said.)
Still, he knows the stakes, which is why he’s trying to avoid the highs and lows.
“Emotionally, you have to keep it in check,” he said. “And I think that might be the reason I said yes to go to all the board meetings.”
And so, from checking out-of-town scores to wearing a Kelly Oubre Jr. jersey to chatting up fans in Pittsburgh (“friendly banter . . . like dorm-room neighbors,” as he described it) to watching two teams flirt with the next round, it’s been a whirlwind. For all of us.
“It’s been extreme but exciting,” he said. “I mean, I want so badly to go four rounds with both teams. But I can’t imagine what it would be like.”