Wes Unseld, Peter Vecsey and the stripped Wizards tickets
This week, a story cropped up about Wes Unseld's access to Wizards game. Since this story is slightly complicated, I'm going to go in stages.
Peter Vecsey's column
In a column about the NBA turning its back on some of its own, the New York Post's Peter Vecsey dropped this nugget:
Speaking of season tickets, you'd think Wizards owner Ted Leonsis would want as many hostages as he could take to fill the Verizon Center's crater of empty seats.
Instead, Wes Unseld was stripped of his season tickets. Apparently, the Hall of Fame center who played (MVP for the 1977-78 champions), coached and managed the team's front office for 40 years, didn't leave much of a lasting impression.
In the light of Ted Leonsis's well-publicized push to reconnect with the franchise's alumni, this seemed a shocking revelation.
I e-mailed Leonsis on Tuesday to ask about this story. He expressed extreme surprise, saying he has given Unseld "carte blanche here to come to every game and park wherever he wants, same as the Pollin family. He wrote that Unseld attended a recent game and did a program with Leonsis in the Dewar's Club, that he was invited to the owner's box this Friday along with Bobby Dandridge and Kevin Grevey, and that there is a seat behind the basket that is "forever his."
"He isn't just a player -- he is legend and family," Leonsis wrote. "He is beloved and respected; he is family. He has the same invite as the Pollin family; our house is your house. Lifetime offer. Come anytime. Always welcome; lights are on for you."
Now, this seemed to be slightly at odd with Vecsey's nugget. When I e-mailed the Post columnist to ask about the seeming discrepancies, he suggested I get in touch with Unseld himself.
So getting in touch with Unseld was on my list of things to do, but before I could, he called into the Junkies to attempt to clear stuff up himself. Essentially, he said his tickets were part of a longstanding relationship with Abe Pollin, that he never expected they would convey after Pollin's death, and that he harbors no bad feelings toward Leonsis and has no idea where this story came from.
"Stripped me of my season tickets?" Unseld said. "He didn't strip me. I had no special rights to any season tickets. I always had season tickets, but that was Mr. Pollin, that had nothing to do with Mr. Leonsis. He never said [anything], and I never asked for tickets. So there's nothing. Guys, I haven't spoken to Peter Vecsey in 25 years, so I wouldn't know where he's getting this stuff. He didn't have to take them; they were already his....I don't know anything about taking tickets."
It is slightly confusing, since it does seem that where once he had tickets, now he doesn't. But Unseld repeatedly said that there is no story here, no ill will, and no stripping.
"Mr. Leonsis has a business to run, and nobody understands that better than I do," Unseld said. "He has to run his business however he thinks he has to run his business, so I don't take it as a personal affront. He and I have met on occasions, I've been over to do little things with him and for him, so there's no situation here....[Leonsis has] been very kind to me. So I've got no problem with any of that."
Mike Wise and Vecsey have a longstanding beef, which flared up last year during the Gilbert Arenas stuff. Vecsey wrote a column ripping Wise's reporting, and Wise then called Vecsey an "old, bitter man." So the Junkies attempted to bait Wise into ripping Vecsey on Wednesday, and he obliged after telling a story about how Vecsey once wrote that "He-Man Mike Wise" would "get his." Yes, this was said in jest.
"Let's put it this way: I'm not going to throw my career away over physically assaulting somebody," Wise said. "If someone tried to sneak punch me, I would defend myself. I wouldn't punch him back; I would get him on the ground and I would put my knees on his hands and I would ground and pound him for about three minutes. And I heard he was a Green Beret once; I really don't care. Vecsey's behind will be mine....I've heard so many good stories about Tony Kornheiser as a good person: I've never heard those stories about Peter Vecsey....Let's put it this way, Tony Kornheiser's not an evil human being. He has an evil side to him, but he's not an evil human being. But Peter Vecsey is Satan incarnate."
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