In a recent Bill Simmons mailbag, he spoke with Yahoo!'s Greg Wyshynski about the most recent professional season lost due to labor strife, seven years back in the NHL. Whyshynski told him that the big losers with respect to legacy were not the players, but the teams. Simmons went on to detail whose legacies were impacted most by the NHL lockout, and which teams were most likely to suffer in the current NBA lockout. The tired takeaway on further analysis is that the owners are willing to sacrifice legacy for long term financial gain.
Of course, it stands to reason that owners invested in plans devised by GMs they have paid (tens of) millions involving players they have paid (hundreds of) millions are less than pleased by the prospect of losing a year of their championship window, following efforts both Herculean and Machiavellian. On the other end of the spectrum are owners that have recently bought in and are looking to recoup some of the cost of that acquisition. Ziller wrote soaring team values are implying owners are hiding the gold, so to speak, his article here. While I don't doubt that losses are not nearly as dramatic as they are portraying, especially with twelve years to analyze, prepare, and present their finances in the most advantageous light, I think a big selling point with these high profile investors has been a future deal with the NBPA similar to the resolution reached at the climax of the NHL lockout.
What would Ted have to do to avoid the charge of staining the team's legacy that will be leveled at owners by all fans whose teams stumble under the new rules or due to the lost season? Maybe all he has to do is bring back the Bullets.
Many, if not most, fans of DC sports have a deep sense of history. There is a series discussing the reality of rebranding over at Raptor HQ, and it's no great stretch to remember the Wizards meeting those criteria and executing with respect to this year's partial rebrand. While the owners present a united front, it is no secret that not all owners are created equal. Ted has gone out of his way to show Wizards Nation that he sees the writing on the wall, and has made himself perhaps the most accessible owner in all of sports.
One thing that hasn't been sitting too well with fans is owners being just cherry with a lost season. The lack of urgency from Stern's camp coupled with increasingly ludicrous bargaining points and indications that owners can expect to make money amidst such a disappointment to fans is a black mark, PR-wise. What better statement could the organization make that team has not forgotten the fans, than by turning those profits into restoration of the legacy that brought the Larry O'Brien trophy home?
With the current media blackout, there is a real possibility Mr. Leonsis could quietly file the paperwork to initiate a name change and bring us back a little piece of our history without anyone being the wiser until Summer League kicks off in 2012. However, rebranding is not cheap, and realistically speaking, it might effectively double the cost considering the recent effort.
Of course with my login being Bullet Nation in Exile, I have a vested interest in being able to come home, so to speak. But much of the futility associated with the post-championship era Bullets has passed to the Wizards brand, and watching John Wall lead the Bullets to the playoffs would feel like a clean slate with the franchise of my childhood.
But there's no denying the old color scheme is gone, the logo that defined the recent years has become a cosmetic afterthought, and replacing 'Wizards' with 'Bullets' happens faster on Photoshop than it takes the time to say. There will be reams of analysis and plenty of pre- and post-posturing with respect to the new bargaining agreement, and there will be a protracted media blitz planned when pro ball starts again. I could definitely think of worse ways to kick off the parade.