Eleven More Things From This Morning's United Event
1) After the event was over, new owner Will Chang began playing soccer with 5-year-old Brian Davis, the son of new owner Brian Davis. Lil' Brian booted the ball into a cocktail table.
"Can you head? Show me a header?" Chang asked Lil' Brian. Then Chang kicked the ball way over Lil' Brian's head. This was my kind of press conference.
2) The place was lousy with Local Poll voters. I counted at least four. This is what I call The Takeover Jr.
3) Ben Olsen was looking very clean-shaven and clean-cut. Since he's apparently The Face of the Franchise, and was being snatched up by every TV camera in sight, this was a good thing.
"I shaved because I started looking a little Neanderthalish," Ben said.
4) I don't say this to diminish the new ownership or the superstar soccer players who were there, but to my mind the biggest superstars in the room were Christian Laettner, Marion Barry and Adrian Fenty, in that order. And I evidently wasn't alone, at least in regards to Laettner.
"This is pretty cool, huh?" Devon McTavish said to me during a quiet moment. "I found out who [the owners] were and I was like, 'the coolest part's gonna be meeting Christian Laettner.' I shook hands with him. Probably the biggest hand I've ever shook in my life."
(Official DCU Beat Writer Steven Goff also notes that Duke's Thomas Hill was there. And apparently, Larry Johnson, Anderson Hunt and Stacey Augmon are planning on buy a stake in Team Red Bull. Btw, I never knew this, but apparently Brian Davis once slapped Christian Laettner in the face. And I made up that Red Bull thing.)
5) Not to turn this into the Devon McTavish blog, but when Victor MacFarlane (who desperately needs a nickname....MacFarpost?) was introducing the players who were present, he apologized in advance for any mispronunciations. But the only name he messed up (besides Tommy Soehn's) was McTavish's. He said "McTivish."
"No worries," McTavish told me. "He got my first name right."
(FWIW, the complete list of players who were there: Ben Olsen, Jaime Moreno, John Wilson, Clyde Simms, Jamil Walker, Jeff Carroll and McTavish. MacFarpost said Domenic Mediate was there, and maybe he was, but he must have left pretty quickly.)
6) In terms of soccer background, as noted previously, Davis spent some time in France and also appreciates the game because of his wife's father, who is from Guyana; also, his oldest son plays every Monday. MacFarpost has five children who play soccer and one fanatic; "Unfortunately my [youngest] son is not as talented as Freddy and will likely never play professional soccer, but no one loves the sport more than he does," VF said. Laettner grew up playing in goal but quit after his brother got injured, and spent his senior year (at the Nichols School in Western New York) as the soccer team's manager; his daughters are "pulling [his] hair every day" in an effort to join a soccer league. Chang played growing up in Japan, and in England, where he went to school.
7) (DCU fans, avert your eyes.)
I asked Davis and Chang for their favorite players.
"I would have to say Ronaldinho," Davis said. And on D.C.? "I don't know, it used to be Freddy Adu until he left last week," Davis said. "So I'm gonna go with Ben Olsen. That's my guy, he's my favorite player because he's tough, he's scrappy, he's smart, [and] he's the first guy that I recognized a few years ago as being the glue of the D.C. team. And I just followed him, and I think he's a great guy."
"Ronaldinho," he said. (What, did they exchange notes?) "I think he's the best player right now alive. I love watching Barcelona, I love watching Real Madrid, I love watching Manchester United because I think [Cristiano] Ronaldo's' probably the second-best player. And so I love watching European soccer, and I'd love to have those caliber players come to Major League Soccer. I think we're so far away; I think Ronaldinho just renewed his contract from 2008 to 2010 for 85 million pounds. I think the league's a few years away before we can afford that kind of salary.
"But definitely, we'd like to be able to attract higher-caliber players so that we can improve the quality of play. You're here, so you know some of the success that we've had--against Celtic, which is the best team In the Scottish League, and we beat them -0; against Barcelona, Real Madrid. And you know, although these are exhibition games, we can play at that level, or close to it. And I know a lot of these Barcelona and Real Madrid players aren't playing all-out, but still, we can play at that level. We're gonna do more of that."
8) When I asked Davis which local teams he follows, this is what he said: "United's my favorite team, Redskins second, Wizards are third, and then Mystics, and then Capitals." FS, don't shoot the messenger.
9) And he wants to make inroads with the African population of D.C.
"I think we can be prominent and I think we have to be more focused than some of the other [D.C.] teams, because they're really established," he told me. "But I think we can have a personality of our own that will make us really different, and I think if we use the culmination of all the South Americans, the Latino immigrants, the West Africans that are here, we could have a great brand. This is the nation's capital, and that's the opportunity. I told Victor...we can now engage with a lot of the Africans, a lot of the West Indians, a lot of the Ethiopians. They're going to be excited now, because I'm going to invite them."
10) I asked Laettner for some of his favorite local hangouts when he played for the Wiz.
"When you're playing professional basketball, unless you're 20 years old, there's not enough time to 'hang out,'" he said. "Especially when you're happily married, like I am. I mean, the free time I had I spent with my lovely wife and my beautiful children. I didn't 'hang out' anywhere. If I wasn't doing basketball or the family thing I was with Brian, figuring out how to expand our empire....We've been busting our behinds, and we're building our empire and expanding our empire, and this is the next step."
Wow, talk about The Takeover. Ok then. And so I guess we begin calling Laettner "The Christian Empire." Also, Laettner said he can juggle a soccer ball a lot better than Davis can. And while the Memphis Grizzlies thing may not have worked out, they're not looking at minor-league basketball. "We're trying to do Major things," Laettner told me.
11) Fenty was impressed with the Official DCU Team Suits; "you guys have to give me one of those ties, that's looking good," he told Simms and Walker.
So was Chang; "It doesn't happen in many other sports, whether it's basketball or hockey," he said, deliberately attempting to provoke FS. "First of all, it's difficult to get them here, and second of all you certainly don't get them to wear a uniform that's mandated by the team. And also to be able to roll up their sleeves and actually work at these events rather than just make a cameo appearance? Really proud of that."
Meanwhile, Barry was making the rounds. "How you doing, [I'm] Marion, pleased to meet you," he said to McTavish. Great moment.
11a) Gilbert Arenas could get involved in business with Brian Davis and Christian Laettner? I mean, that's the Double-Layered Takeover With Extra Cheese.
January 8, 2007; 4:41 PM ET
Categories: Caps , D.C. United , Wizards
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