- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2016


Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis told reporters Wednesday at a press conference to introduce new coach Scott Brooks that he isn’t concerned with the past.

When asked about how Brooks will be the fifth coach to work with general manager Ernie Grunfeld, Leonsis answered, “I only look at since I’ve owned the team. That’s important. I wasn’t here back then, so I’m only focused on since I’ve bought the team.”

You can understand why Leonsis doesn’t want to look back. It’s not pretty.

Since the last time the Wizards were a participant in the NBA and not a spectator, the franchise has a record of 1,253-1,727. Of that record of failure, 1,050-1,454 of it occurred before Leonsis became majority owner in 2010. You can certainly understand why he has “only focused on since I’ve bought the team.”

After all, it’s been bad enough since Leonsis became majority owner — a 203-273 record.

SEE ALSO: Wizards coach Scott Brooks views Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre Jr. as critical to success

This is a remarkable admission. Can you imagine if Leonsis bought a customer service company and told his customers — who had been suffering with a lousy product for 40 years — that he doesn’t particularly care about their pain of the past? Their past suffering?

“I wasn’t here back then, so I’m only focused on since I’ve bought the team.”


Wizards fans can’t say the same thing. Some of them had been there long before Leonsis became majority owner in 2010 after the death of Abe Pollin. They’ve been through the years of LaBradford Smith, Jahidi White, Tyrone Nesby and so many others. They are simply supposed to ignore those scars?

They are supposed to ignore the continued presence of Grunfeld, who is now on his fifth coach during his 13 years of burning down this franchise and getting credit for rebuilding it — the NBA’s arsonist fireman? They’re supposed to not pay attention to Grunfeld’s 444-606 record during that time?

Leonsis’ claims of focusing only on the time he has owned the team would explain the empty seats during Wizards home playoff games and the apathetic crowds that do show up at Verizon Center.

SEE ALSO: Scott Brooks drawn by youth in taking ‘great opportunity’ as Wizards’ new coach

He’s been able to create a “Rock the Red” atmosphere at Capitals games. The Wizards experience at Verizon Center? It’s more like “Don’t Disturb the Dead.”
This, according to Leonsis, is all part of the “plan.”

When asked why he didn’t consider firing Grunfeld at the same time he fired coach Randy Wittman, Leonsis said, “Because we were executing the plan. If we had varied from the plan, and the plan didn’t work, then I think I would have been within my realm of responsibility to take a look. But, we were executing a plan we agreed to when I bought the team five years ago.”

Who is “we?” I don’t remember Wizards fans agreeing to that plan.

Washington sports fans have seen their share of “plans” before.

“We have a plan on how we do business,” Washington Redskins general manager Vinny Cerrato said 2006.

Remember what Mike Tyson once said? “Everybody’s got a plan, until they coach the Washington Wizards.”

Brooks is now part of the “plan.” He comes with an impressive resume — a 338-207 record in parts of seven seasons coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder, with three appearances in the Western Conference Finals and one in the NBA Finals.

He has been a winner. If he can do the same in Washington, Brooks will have done what few others who came before him have — a winning record.

Brooks is the 17th coach for this franchise since the days they were an NBA participant. Of those who have come before, only two — Dick Motta and Bernie Bickerstaff — have had winning records during their time on the bench.

Brooks won all those games in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant on the roster. That is really the only part of the “plan” that matters — Durant on Brooks’ roster in Washington.

Brooks was asked about the campaign to bring Durant to Washington. He passed.

“I’m excited about the team,” Brooks said. “We have a great group of guys. I understand the question, but I’m excited about the group of guys we have here. When this season ended, when I was looking around, I knew that this was the place that I wanted to be.”

Well, then it must have been easy for Grunfeld when, according to Leonsis, he sent the general manager to meet with Brooks and told him not to return without a deal.

That won’t work with Durant. Leonsis is going to have to make that trip himself. Wizards fans might say don’t come back without a deal.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide

Sponsored Stories