Ted Leonsis wants to look Gilbert in the eye
Ted Leonsis has discussed NBA ownership in vague terms since Abe Pollin's death, but he's mostly avoided saying almost anything specific about the Wizards. Now that he has a deal in place to assume ownership of the team, he apparently is more comfortable speaking out.
And so Leonsis chatted with Comcast SportsNet's Russ Thaler on Thursday, and offered I believe his first specific comments about Gilbert Arenas's future.
"I know Gilbert a little bit from seeing him in the hallways and talking to him," Leonsis said, when asked what he would say to Arenas. "He's always been a very, very sweet kid. I like him. And I believe in the best in people. And so I don't think I'll say much. I want to get to know him, but you need to do it in a way that's respectful of the hierarchy.
"And so I've gotten to know Alex Ovechkin, I've gotten to know some of our players, but certainly it's the coach who's most important to the player. The coach is his boss. Then it's the general manager. And then it's the owner.
"And I do want to look Gilbert in the eye and see what makes him tick and understand what he's thinking. I'll probably give him a hug, and we'll kill a couple of aliens with some video games and get to know each other. You have to empathize with people and understand them and what makes them tick, but his boss is Flip and Flip decides what system and how he plays. And I'll never get in the way of that relationship."
Well, it's slightly less vague, anyhow. It also bears a remarkable resemblance to Mike Wise's prediction from late March, when Gilbert was being sentenced. Wise decided to guess how Leonsis would deal with the Wizards' biggest star.
First, I am betting Leonsis gives Arenas a big hug, because he's that type of person and he has always been fond of Gilbert. Next, I wouldn't be surprised if he spent quality time with Arenas and tried to get to know him better as a human being, rather than relying on caricatures that range from big, childish goof to gun-obsessed menace. Then, he will play video games with Arenas (unless they involve guns, I'd imagine).
Why? Because Leonsis knows that's something that would touch Gilbert's hot button, if you will, and the new owner of the Wizards is all about connecting with the people who work for and with him.
Either Wise has a good source, he's an incredible guesser, or Leonsis is taking his cues from Washington Post columnists. I'll go with choice A, I guess.
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