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Ted Leonsis fined $100,000 for comments on NBA salary cap

UPDATED at 8:57 P.M.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has been fined $100,000 by the NBA for his comments about possible changes to the league's salary cap.

At a breakfast with local business leaders at George Mason University on Wednesday, Leonsis said that he expects the NBA to soon have a salary cap structure similar to the NHL, according to an Associated Press report.

"In a salary cap era -- and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it's in the NHL -- if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter," said Leonsis, who also owns the NHL's Capitals.

Later Wednesday, the NBA announced the fine for "unauthorized public comments regarding the league's collective bargaining negotiations."

NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed Leonsis's comments before the fine was announced. "We're negotiating and that was one of our negotiating points," he told the AP, "but collective bargaining is a negotiating process, and that was not something that Ted was authorized to say and he will be dealt with for that lapse in judgment."

Leonsis's comments come at a sensitive time, with the next NBA collective bargaining agreement set to expire on June 30, 2011 and the threat of a lockout looming over this season. The NBA and the players' union had what they called a "cordial and constructive" three-hour meeting last week, hoping to avoid a work stoppage. Owners met in New York on Monday.

Since owners and team representatives are not authorized to discuss issues involving the CBA, Leonsis later clarified his comments to the AP, saying that he felt the NHL hard cap is "working. The teams are very, very competitive. There is no way that big markets teams can outspend small market teams. So when the season starts everyone thinks their team can compete for the Stanley Cup."

Leonsis has never hidden his preference for the NHL model, expressing the same sentiment in an interview with the AP last May, after he had signed a purchase agreement with the Pollin family. "I'm surprised because now I see all of the NBA financials," Leonsis told the AP last May. "And I'd honestly have to say at this point in time that the NHL is stronger than the NBA, clearly because it has a CBA in place that protect owners from taking stupid pills ... There is a hard cap in the NHL. In the NBA, you can spend a lot of money and every dollar you're over this luxury tax you get fined. And there's a lot of basketball teams who are losing a lot of money."

By Michael Lee  | September 29, 2010; 6:46 PM ET
 
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Comments

A lockout in order to "protect owners from taking stupid pills" isn't going to get a lot of fan sympathy.

Posted by: djnnnou | September 29, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the NBA, Ted.

Unlike hockey and that coward Bettman, the NBA is well run and Stern has a backbone.

Keep your thoughts to yourself.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | September 29, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

No kidding. If the owners have fallen on such hard times, why were they doling out long-term guaranteed contracts to the likes of Darko and Amir Johnson just a couple of months ago. They keep trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want the right to spend foolishly and make bad investments in players but at the same time be exempt from the long-term consequences of doing so. Here's a crazy idea: If they really think player salaries are too high . . . stop overpaying players.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 29, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

@STEIN_LINE_HQ NBA announces $100,000 fine for Wizards owner Ted Leonsis for his comments about potential hard salary cap in league's next labor pact

Posted by: djnnnou | September 29, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse


The first of many slaps on the wrist for Leonsis. The next will come when he factually notes that the Wizards don't get calls from the refs and and that officiating favors superstars and superteams.

Posted by: ahwyatt | September 29, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Ted Leonsis, the new Mark Cuban of the NBA! Go Ted!

Posted by: JohnWWW | September 29, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I guess ole Ted got slammed for acknowledging what the owners and Mr. Stern intend imposing on the CBA/The NBA. A hard cap.

A hard cap is going to make Blatche's newly signed extension look like a very good one indeed. Even though Blatche didn't have an agent he did have legal advice.

Good legal advice would have certainly given him what contracts would look like in a hard cap league.

Blatche acting upon good counsel negotiated a noble deal. Mr. Leonsis still an honest good man revealed more than the owners and Mr. Stern want to admit right now.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | September 29, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I rather Ted be order to give a local Washington DC Charity $100,000 then the NBA who may or may not use it in the Washington DC area.

Posted by: 4U2Know | September 29, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

i hate when owners whine about losing money, they are completely full of $hit in that regard.

Posted by: divi3 | September 29, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Not surprising seeing that Stern fines anyone for anything. He's just mean.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | September 29, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

A hard cap means mediocrity everywhere. I prefer to see great teams play.

Posted by: MeviousMan | September 29, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I respect you for speaking your mind, Ted. I would like to think most Wizards fans are excited and proud to have you as their owner. Glad it's not my money, though!

Posted by: sorry2say | September 29, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

"Unlike hockey and that coward Bettman, the NBA is well run and Stern has a backbone.

Keep your thoughts to yourself."

at least until Stern authorizes you to speak ;)

and then only to say what he authorizes you to say

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 29, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

No kidding. If the owners have fallen on such hard times, why were they doling out long-term guaranteed contracts to the likes of Darko and Amir Johnson just a couple of months ago. They keep trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want the right to spend foolishly and make bad investments in players but at the same time be exempt from the long-term consequences of doing so. Here's a crazy idea: If they really think player salaries are too high . . . stop overpaying players.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 29, 2010 8:20 PM

You know this comment I like, but coming from you and your pro-establishment/coach and anti-player slants, it seems kind of odd.

But thats allright Kalo_rama, I am never against everything you say.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | September 29, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

"You know this comment I like, but coming from you and your pro-establishment/coach and anti-player slants, it seems kind of odd."

You know, there are some hand and wrist exercises you could do if you're ever interested in regaining your grip on reality.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 29, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

"at least until Stern authorizes you to speak ;)

and then only to say what he authorizes you to say"

Lol, exactly. ;)

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | September 29, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

That is a Mark Cuban type of fine! I think $100,000 is a little excessive for a first offense.

Posted by: Beltwayboy7 | September 29, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

This was the "unauthorized public comments" Mr. Leonsis made...

"In a salary cap era -- and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it's in the NHL -- if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter," said Leonsis.

I know why Stern is so grumpy, he just turned 68. Mr. Stern should be very happy, the NBA is popular again. Ted didn't say anything to ruin making a deal with the players. It shouldn't be that hard reaching an agreement. We saw what happened after the 98' season. Biggest ratings ever for the NBA Finals, then the lockout happened.

What's so wrong with no luxury taxes or exemptions? The NBA Owners overpay for players every year. For example the 2005–06 New York Knicks payroll was $124 million, putting them $74.5 million above the salary cap, and $62.3 million above the tax line. They finished with the 2nd worst record 23-59 and the highest payroll in the league.

If the owners would stop giving mediocre players big money contracts, the NBA would greatly benefit.

Posted by: wizfan81 | September 29, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

You know this comment I like, but coming from you and your pro-establishment/coach and anti-player slants, it seems kind of odd."

You know, there are some hand and wrist exercises you could do if you're ever interested in regaining your grip on reality.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 29, 2010 10:23 PM

Wow! I am surprised you even responded. I guess un-reality got a rise out of yous'.

LOL.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | September 29, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

"Wow! I am surprised you even responded."

Given how much fun (and easy) it is to mock your foolishness I'd be happy to respond to you more often. Problem is, most of your posts ramble on for so long that I fall asleep at my keyboard before getting to the end of them.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 30, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Ouch! That's an excessive fine for making a purely factual statement that doesn't harm the negotiations. I hope Ted can appeal and does so successfully.

Posted by: pundito | September 30, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

David Stern is a small, small man.

Posted by: drischord | September 30, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Stern is a punk.

Posted by: wewintheylose | September 30, 2010 4:44 AM | Report abuse

Appeal!

Posted by: richs91 | September 30, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

First, a gag order on Gilbert not to speak on the gun incident. Then, a $100,000 fine on Leonsis.

David Stern needs to refill that Xanax prescription.

Posted by: musicmanjr | September 30, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

The "well run" NBA lost $400mm last year.

The NHL made money (revenue growth compared to last year).

Remind me again who the well run league is.

Posted by: jcurrin | September 30, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Question: Can Stern fine Grunfeld for being inept?
In Grunfeld We Trust... Not.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 30, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

oops! rookie mistake from the new owner. Kind of quiet on the Leonsis blog today!
Stern does not mess around, which is why he's the best commish in sports.

Posted by: swinging4thefence | September 30, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

First the commissioner instructs the Wizards organization + Arenas that they're not allowed to speak about the gun issue. Next, Teddy puts his foot in his mouth by publicly stating that his fan base is in Northern Virginia, much to the dismay of Marylanders and DCers. Then he gets nailed w/ a fine for commenting on salary caps.

Pretty soon Ted's only public statements will be about the weather.

Posted by: randysbailin | September 30, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Sports owners are just like investment bankers, sometimes they need rules to protect them from their self.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 30, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

The NBA is well run? Where can I get some of what that guy is smoking? The league of criminals, thugs and crazy owners is a joke. There is no traveling call anymore. Rookies don't get any calls when up against veterans. You even have light weights saying that the stars deserve to get the calls over the rookies. What garbage.

Posted by: chopin224 | September 30, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

David Stern: the most incompetent, cowardly, politically correct, media-obsessed commissioner in the history of American sports. He is an utter disgrace and a total embarrassment. I can't wait for the day when he is gone.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 30, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm liking Ted a little bit more every day! I hope Mark Cuban passes the torch over to Ted, and that Ted becomes the new thorn in David Stern's tyrannical heel. I haven't heard anything about those "Northern Virginia" comments that randysbailin mentioned. Hopefully, they do not exist, or was taken out of context. Any real Bullets fan knows and respects the legacy of the Cap Center. And I can't stand Northern Virginia, or the Virginians that live there. A Northern Virginian would cross the street if John Wall were walking towards their direction. I'm sure that many of David Stern's most adherent fans reside in Northern Virginia. It wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit if every Northern Virginian were to suddenly relinquish their tentacles from the District of Columbia, and slink back into allegiance with the their Confederate roots. Holding training camp at GMU is about as much Northern Virginianism as I can stand. I hope Ted isn't one of their ilk.

Posted by: WallyWutMD | September 30, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

WallyWutMD - you sir are an idiot. Without Northern Va fans and their cash there would no team in town except the Skins.

The entire beltway region is together on supporting their teams.

Your comment is Ignorant.
Stay In PG county and keep ducking.

Posted by: ballgame21 | September 30, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"Unlike hockey and that coward Bettman, the NBA is well run and Stern has a backbone."

Whaaaaaa? Ahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa.

Are you serious? First and foremost, you do know that Bettman worked FOR Stern for may years, right? Secondly, the NBA has a much larger audience and TV dollars. And third, they both, BOTH, come from the same stupidity camp, they both wish they were Tagliabue, and they both wish they had NFL clout. They are, in fact, the same moron rolled out into two separate idiots who can't govern their way out of a paper bag.

Posted by: soloman5000 | September 30, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

ballgame21,
I live in Waldorf, which is located in Charles County, MD. You have provided yet another example of Northern Virginianism to help enforce my position. The Bullets, Caps, Skins, and not to mention, both sets of Birds up in Baltimore would get along just fine if Northern Virginia ever decided to hoard its riches and vanish back into the woods from whence it came. Notice I left out the Gnats. You Northern Virginians can have that abomination. You guys over on the other side of the Potomac River have bought into the nonsense that Bob Matigan and the other local news hacks have been spewing for years. I drove through PGC just this morning on my way to work (like I do every day), and GASP!... No bullet holes in my car! Nor did I have to "duck" at any point of the day (other than to grab one of my Dortios that had fallen on the floor). You Sir, are suffering from a condition I like to call, Northern Virginianism. Others like to call it "Elitism".

Posted by: WallyWutMD | September 30, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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