WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ted Leonsis began his media address prior to the Washington Wizards' 2011/12 media day with an analogy. It probably wasn't the analogy you expected.
"I was watching a docmentary the other day about the founder of the Ferrari racecar," Leonsis said. "He was the first racecar owner and driver to get rid of the rear-view mirror on the car. They asked him why, and he said, 'I don't want anyone looking back. I want my drivers only looking forward.' I think that's an appropriate way to kick off the season."
So that's that. Here are the other most interesting nuggets from his long media session.
On what kind of progress he wants to see this season: "I'm more concerned with process right now than output, though we're here to win. I want to see us winning more games."
On what he told the team today: "I thanked them for being in shape. They took advantage of this extended time and they looked great. That's half the battle."
On fan support: "We're in the top two or three in the NBA in new ticket sales. That's a signal to me that the fans internalize that we're going to build this team the right way and they believe this team has some upside."
On John Wall and leadership: "It's great to see him not be shy and understand that if he leads the pack in terms of running suicide drills, that gives him permission to yell at somebody if he thinks they're not working as hard as he is."
On a conversation he had with Chris Singleton: "I had a conversation with him, and [I said], 'I won't not see that.' I think what happens sometimes to players that can contribute rebounding, playing defense and getting the loose balls and provide energy, maybe sometimes they don't build the stats. They get concerned that they won't be appreciated. I wanted to establish early on that I will appreciate players that help us win."
On making D.C. a destination: "I hope to have our team considered a destination where players want to play, and that'll come from building and buildin. Everyone knows this is a fantastic city. We can get the place rocking with fantastic energy, and we have an environment where they're not just talented players, but they're welcoming, they're embracing of people that join the team. Word will get out that people want to play here."
On JaVale McGee: "I think JaVale is erudite. He's a very, very interesting, next-generation player ... His challenge is playing within himself."
On development: "It's up to us to bring out the best in players. It's not just up to them. It's up to us to develop them, counsel them, coach them and create an environment where they can excel and meet their aspirations."
On media reports of him being a hard-liner during the lockout: "I have to chuckle about the categorizations. There was one meeting that someone close to me had passed away and I had to go to a funeral, so I didn't attend the meeting. I read the next day about how I was a hawk. I hadn't even attended the meeting. We were in a quiet period and you couldn't communicate. There were lots of things that were written where you could look at and say, 'Well, I'd like to set the record straight. I'd like to settle the score.' But that would violate the Ferrari, pull-off-the-rear-view-mirror-and-only-look-forward thing. I think that's in everyone's best interest."
Later: "My biggest issue in all of the negotiations and discussions is about competitiveness. I want to be able to build a team and keep it together."
Even later: "I want to make sure that if we're building around young players -- and I anticipated the new system when I bought the team -- we can keep that team together."
On his team philosophy: "I want to be more loyal to the players I know that we draft, have rough times together, build together and grow, than to strangers."
On the Wizards' future: "We'll wake up in a couple of years with a whole class of players going into their primes and we'll have cap space. That plan is something you have to stick to, because I've seen too many organizations where, if things get tough, they change the plan."