NBA Approves Sale Of Wizards To Ted Leonsis

Over a month after the terms of the sale were agreed to by both parties, Ted Leonsis officially takes over for the Pollin family as the majority owner of the Washington Wizards

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Ted Leonsis Clarifies Policy Regarding Wizards' Name Change

A day after his press conference in which he expounded on all things Wizards, Ted Leonsis wants to clarify a few things regarding a potential name change. Leonsis again reiterates that both a name and color change will be considered, but there are many more pressing matters to be addressed before the issue can even be considered:

In regards to a name change of the team, we have a lot of work to do right now on re-crafting the team itself, focusing on the draft, our number 1 pick, free agency, selling season tickets, suites and club seats, new interactive outreach programs, working with customers, prospects and media, crafting a new organizational structure aimed at maximizing our services to customers, working on making the Verizon Center the best it can be for our community, and finding new and improved ways to serving our communities of interest.

The NBA also has a lot of work to do on negotiating a new CBA with the players and working with everyone on a new business model that is fair to all.

But Ted, I want to change the name RIGHT NOW! I have to live with other NBA fans making fun of my team and its minor league name. I have to deal with the fact that teal and bronze matches NOTHING ELSE in my wardrobe. But you listen to the fans, and you're going to change everything soon, right?

With all of that going on understanding that to effectuate a name change could take two to three years. This simply isn’t a priority for us right now. We can’t change the name of the team for next season. It is June and the new season starts in October. There will be no name change. We can’t change the name. It is pretty simple.

We can change the colors more easily than the name. We will look into that as part of an overall brand uplift and updating project. That could happen as soon as the following season, but NOTHING new can happen next season. It is too late in the off season to have any changes at all. I am sorry but schedules and production of materials etc. are set years ahead of time.

As time goes on and we meet our goals, we can look into every issue our fans have about our team, but to focus and discuss an issue that can’t be fixed in the short term is not a good decision by anyone. I am not tone deaf but I am a realist and we must focus on the immediate tasks at hand. I hope this clarifies the issues to you all and helps the anger I see in emails and blog post commentary subside a bit. We will listen. But vision and strategy without execution is hallucination!

Bummer. Before you all go and find a cliff to jump off, remember that the Capitals had to endure a prolonged period of purgatory in those awful black and bronze uniforms before emerging as a red, white and blue phoenix. I'm confident that Leonsis will make the right decision, and even if doesn't restore our rightful name, he will at least give us our colors back.  Maybe then we can all safely move out of the 1990s and into the 21st century.

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Important Notes And Quotes From Ted Leonsis' Press Conference

Missed Ted Leonsis' press conference earlier today? Worry not: Senior Editor Mike Prada, also the lead editor for Bullets Forever, has you covered with a thorough recap of today's event.

In addition to many of Ted's statements, Mike sought out and spoke with GM Ernie Grunfeld and Coach Flip Saunders. Some of their interesting quotes are below.

On Ted Leonsis and the possibility of a name or uniform change:

Ted's not changing the name, saying he's amazed that, of all the things they need to do, it seems to him that many fans care about a name change the most.  He did say that, at some point, he would look into changing the team uniforms back to "more traditional colors," noting that "it's no secret I like red."

Flip Saunders, on building a team with young players:

"You get young players that are your foundation, and you get veteran players that can teach those young players how to be professional in this league.  You know the young players will make mistakes, and the veteran players won't, so you just have to have a good mix along those lines."

Flip Saunders, on building through the draft:

"Things just have to fall into place.  If you look at the teams that have [built around young talent], Oklahoma City, they were the worst teams for two straight years in the league.  Chicago, when they brought in their influx of all their young talent a couple years ago, they were the worst team in the league for five years after Michael [Jordan] left.  When you're a bad team, you have a chance to have good young players, but you have to be lucky to get the game-changing players.  Usually when you lose your way in the draft, it's going to take 6-7 years to get out."

Ernie Grunfeld, on the Wizards' plan for free agency:

"Just because you have money doesn't mean you should overspend on someone that won't be apart of your long-term future.  If the right opportunity comes along, I think you want to look at it, but I've said all along that we might save our powder for down the road, to see what the new CBA brings, to see if there's a hard cap or a soft cap.  We don't really know all the rules going forward, so just because you have the cap room doesn't mean you should go out and spend it if it's not for the right player."

Read the entire press conference recap here.

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Text Of Ted Leonsis' E-Mail To Fans

Ted Leonsis sent out an e-mail to every single fan that bought a Wizards' ticket last season. The text of the e-mail is below.

Dear [Fan], 

Today, as we finalize our purchase of the Washington Wizards, is a day that my partners and I are very excited about. But we also know that this is just a small step in our pursuit of our ultimate goal - to bring an NBA championship to Washington, D.C.

That is a lofty goal and an important one for which to strive. We have prepared for this day, and I hope that you will see in our new company, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, a strategic and unrelenting pursuit of that goal.

We can expect some early "wins" - the NBA Draft on June 24 will be an exciting day for the franchise as we were fortunate enough to win the lottery and we choose first. However, reaching that ultimate goal of a championship requires patience. There is no quick answer, no button any of us can push to produce a winner. I believe, however, that the Wizards' future is bright, and we enter this endeavor having learned a lot about what it takes to build a championship-caliber team and a team built to last.

It will require a group effort. I consider a sports team a public trust, and we will only reach our goals with the cooperation of our fans, staff, corporate partners and players. We have no better partners than our season-ticket holders. I look forward to getting to know you personally and all of our fans, engaging with them and understanding their concerns. One of the first things we did with the Washington Capitals was to listen intently and then take earnest, meaningful steps to improve the fan experience at our games. With your feedback, we plan to do the same with the Wizards.

I will be open, accessible and honest with our fans - I believe in transparency. This won't be the last you hear from me, whether it be in the media, on my blog http://www.tedstake.com/ or via emailTheWashWiz@aol.com, and you can expect consistent communication from my partners and our staff as well. We are in this together; it promises to be a memorable journey.

Thank you in advance for your support of our efforts. We are humbled by this great opportunity. We hope to make you proud.

Sincerely,
Ted Leonsis

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Ted Leonsis Makes Acquisition Of Wizards, Washington Sports And Entertainment Official

Ted Leonsis held a press conference today to announce that the sale of the Wizards to him and his partners has been finalized. Leonsis and his team now owns the Wizards, Capitals, Verizon Center, Mystics and the Washington branch of Ticketmaster. He also announced that his group, Lincoln Holdings, has merged with Washington Sports and Entertainment to form a new company known as "Monumental Sports and Entertainment."

Some other highlights from today's press conference:

  • Leonsis said the value of the combined assets is actually $825 million, not the $550 million figure that's been reported.
  • He said his goal with the Wizards was to build a "generational great team," and strongly believes that must be done through young talent. He said he looked at the last seven NBA champions and found that six of them were anchored by a home-grown No. 1 or No. 2 pick.  Leonsis also said he believes he can build the Wizards faster than he did the Capitals, and added that he thinks it's easier to build around young talent in the NBA because there are fewer roster spots.
  • He began with this: "I will pay the appropriate amount of homage to the past, but we have to change."
  • Leonsis paused at first when asked about Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards star that recently spent 30 days in a halfway house for felony gun possession.  However, Leonsis said that "it is very important that he is re-embraced as a person and a player." He added that he's talked to Arenas several times, both in person and via e-mail, and that he "kind of likes the guy." Arenas, Leonsis said, understands what he needs to do and he expects him to do it.
  • If you were hoping the Wizards would be a big free-agent player this year, because they have the cap space, don't expect much.  While Leonsis did not say he has made a final decision, he did say that  "the money's not burning a hole in my pocket. I've experienced empty-calorie, make-news with these things before, and they didn't have happy endings."  He said he doesn't see many NBA teams winning titles due to signing other teams' max free agent, and added that he's "not interested in going after any free agent we can't get just to make the news." 
  • More on 2010: "Ten years ago, I'd be firing up jets, but I just think it's hard to build [that way]. I'm not interested in just making a news splash"
  • Leonsis did talk about everyone's favorite topic: a name and color change!  He began by saying "I'm shocked that with all that we have to do, that's been the number one e-mail, message board conversation," and reaffirmed that there will be no name change.  However, he did hint that "at some point," the team would go back to "more traditional colors," adding that he's a huge fan of red.
  • Finally, Caps fans, don't worry, Leonsis firmly believes he can manage both teams, and made it a point to tell Caps fans that he's as committed to bringing a Stanley Cup to D.C. as he is an NBA title.  In fact, Leonsis said he wants all three teams he owns (Wizards, Mystics, Capitals) to have titles down the road.
More to come later...
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NBA Approves Sale Of Wizards To Ted Leonsis

According to a tweet by Howard Beck, the NBA unanimously approved the sale of the Washington Wizards to Ted Leonsis. The terms of the sale were agreed on by Leonsis and the Pollin family, the team's previous owners, over a month ago. The league approval officially makes Leonsis the team's majority owner. 

He now owns the Wizards, Mystics, Capitals, and Verizon Center, the building they all play in.

For more, visit SB Nation's Wizards blog, Bullets Forever.

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