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Leonsis says he'll never market the Miami Heat

By Dan Steinberg

Ted Leonsis, Nov. 3, asked on 106.7 The Fan whether he's interested in the Miami Heat's progress:

"Nope. I'll never ever market our team and [ask fans to] come to our arena to see someone else play. I think we have enough stars that can shine, and I want to build total loyalty and empathy and love for our players and our franchise."

Susan O'Malley, Dec. 8, 1992, asked by the Washington Times about her marketing strategies:

"We used to completely ride the coattail of the NBA but this year we're trying to merge the two and focus on our veterans as well....The success of the NBA is the league itself....But I think next year you'll see a lot more emphasis on the Bullets and a lot less on the NBA. What happened is over the summer, it was hard to tell what kind of team we would have. We didn't know if Tom Gugliotta was going to play for us. We'll have a Tom Gugliotta growth chart on April 25. As the season progresses, you'll see more Bullets. We want to promote our veterans, Pervis Ellison, Harvey Grant, and Michael Adams."

Washingtonian, Sept., 1992:

Few people loved the Dream Team more than Susan O'Malley.The gold-medal-winning US basketball team of NBA all-stars was a godsend for Washington Bullets president O'Malley, whose job includes the unenviable task of enticing people to buy tickets to see the Bullets, a mediocre team with no big stars.

Which explains why the team's season-ticket promotions over the summer barely mentioned the Bullets. Instead, radio spots encouraged listeners to see the Dream Team at the Capital Centre. When fans called to find out when the all-stars would be in town, they were told ''one at a time''--when each player's team played the Bullets. Some people hung up, but enough bought a fifteen-game package featuring Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird to give the team its best summer sales ever. Joked O'Malley: ''We're going to see if they can do the Olympics every two years.''
Boston Globe, March, 1992:
Like many struggling teams, the Bullets sell the NBA. "Come see Michael Jordan!" "Come see Larry Bird!" Maybe you'll get swept up and want to come back again when the Charlotte Hornets are in town and thousands of seats are available. "If I can get them in here, even for free," O'Malley says, "I can usually get them to come back."

By Dan Steinberg  | November 3, 2010; 12:09 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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one of the worst NBA executives of all time.

Please don't forget the thunder and lightning campaign of aged Moses Malone and more aged Gus Williams. or when the Wiz had the circus "growth chart" poster of 7'6" Manute Bol and 5'3" mugsy Bol, the naba's tallest and shortest players. that campaign was the last straw for me. always love the hometown team, but I've wanted Pollin away from the Bullets since Bob Ferry!!!

Posted by: simplewords999 | November 3, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

O'Malley was a shameless shill who misrepresnted attendance figures, papered the house, and hung the most appalling banner in the history of sports areanas: "Washington Mystics - WNBA Attendence Champions."

Her marketing scheme of promoting other NBA stars and teams had a terrible long-lasting effect on the Bullets/Wizards fan loyaty that I believe is still felt today. When even her best shilling efforts started to wane and the number of people coming to MCI Center started to decrease, she had the audacity to claim that the whole empty sections throughout the building were a result of people out of their seats and exploring the attractions on the concourse.

When the Michael Jordan fiasco broke, she was the primary force in convincinf Pollin to offlead him. Yet when there were the announcements of Jordan's departure, O'Malley, one who never shied away from getting her face out in front of anything to do with the Wizards or the Bullets, was nowhere to be found.

She was a typical Pollin hire: the daughter of Abe's good friend Peter O'Malley. If she is placed in any position of honor for public display in Verizon Center, it will be a massive embarrassment.

Posted by: lgm6986 | November 3, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Ted L is the best owner in DC. Hope he comes to realize that Ernie G and Flipper should exit stage left. But Ted deserves a 3-year window without complaint to build this team.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | November 3, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Those certainly were the "dark ages" of the franchise. Those 5 years before Webber and Howard showed up were just nauseating.

Posted by: richs91 | November 3, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Good for him. I hope the Nats take note.

Posted by: dontknowdiddley | November 3, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Ted Leonsis is like a Mark Cuban, but cooler and much less annoying! Ted is professional and yet passionate about his own sports franchises. Dan Snyder could learn a thing or two from Ted!!

Posted by: oldskul | November 3, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Susan O'Malley = never seeing any kids in my schools (Vienna) wearing Bullets stuff. Lakes, Celtics, Bulls, sure, but Bullets, never.

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | November 3, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

THE worst sports executive (save D. Snyder of course) this city has ever had the miserable experience of suffering through. Had the job all b/c of a family connection to Pollin -- nothing else. Incompetent, arrogant, and overbearing. Literally drove the franchise into the ground with inept marketing and clueless decisions. Her, Unseld, and the rest of that sorry crew weren't fit to run a pick up team at the YMCA let alone an NBA franchise. Bad, bad times in DC under her reign of terror.

Posted by: dbunkr | November 3, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Phil Jackson coined the "Triangle Offense". Abe Pollin, Wes Unseld, and Susan O'Malley were the "Offensive Triangle". Ted Leonsis is like a beam of heavenly light that has finally broken through the dark clouds of this accursed sports town.

Posted by: WallyWutMD | November 3, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Yet...he will charge a 30% premium to see them...face value on season tickets...

Posted by: justmy2 | November 3, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Typical ol' Abe, doing a friend a favor by giving his unqualified daughter an executive position.

Then he stood idly by as she nosedived the franchise into the Potomac with her co-pilot Wes Unseld. Great player was Wes but coach/executive not.

La Sooz (as Kornheiser referred to her) ain't no Jeanie Buss, that's for dam sure. She's more like Sally Jenkins, a Title 9 hire.

Posted by: kahlua87 | November 3, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse



o'malley decimated the fan base for the bullets for years by marketing every player in the NBA who wasn't on the wizards roster. the most short-sided marketing campaign ever.

Posted by: sec231 | November 3, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

does anyone have a manute bol growth chart??? i gotz to have one!

Posted by: boricuabopper | November 4, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Wes gets waaayyy too much grief for his time with the Bullets. Pollin was the one and only reason the Bullets floundered for years. Any GM would have been handcuffed with Pollin as an owner and doomed to failure. Wes wanted out of that job in the worst possible way but was caught in an unholy loyalty compact with Pollin. The "health" issue that finally got him out, I have no doubt, was a cover.

Frankly, Wes as a coach, was overly criticized too. The one thing you could say about his extremely mediorce teams was that they always played hard. Probably too hard for their own good. And nobody played tougher defense on Michael Jordan than Darrell Walker, which is why Chicago picked him up in his last year in the Jordan's request.

Lastly, what was O'Malley's job as a marketing director? To sell tickets. She did what she had to do, obviously with the owner's blessing. It's seems a little funny that Dan is comparing the statements of the marketing director, on one hand, with the comments of the OWNER, on the other. You think if Pollin had set the directive like Leonsis to market the team, she wouldn't have gone in a different direction?

Leonsis is the best thing that has happened to the Bullets in 30 years. Pollin, for all his philanthopic work, was a horrible, horrible owner who couldn't get out of the 1970's, when the NBA was a second-class league at best; tape-delay NBA championship games after the local news anyone?

Posted by: joemdavis55 | November 4, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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