Wizards owner called Obama for advice on NBA team
Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, called former President Obama when rethinking the team’s direction after this year’s disappointing season, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Leonsis, whose managing group also owns the Washington Capitals and Mystics, got in touch with Obama after firing longtime team president Ernie Grunfeld.
Leonsis and Obama reportedly spoke in April about the importance of building the right culture for the Wizards.
The former president championed the “beauty of the game, teamwork, sacrifice” and surrounding franchise stars with complementary piece, according to the Post.
One person familiar with their relationship told the newspaper that Obama and Leonsis have frequently spoken about basketball.
Obama, who has never been shy about being an avid basketball fan, is involved in the NBA‘s project to develop a professional league in Africa.
The former president was one of 78 people within and outside of sports that Leonsis reportedly consulted while building a plan to reconstruct the franchise into a modern sports organization, according to the Post.
Other notable figures reportedly included San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Georgetown University President John DeGioia.
“It was a very, very long gestation process,” Leonsis told the newspaper. “It wasn’t what people were expecting, which was ‘It’s a small pool of candidates; you’re going to hire a replacement for the last executive who was there.’ I knew I would get grief on it, but if I did the work, my partners and the executive team would feel good about it.”