Yesterday, reports surfaced that Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder agreed in principle to sell the NFL team to a group led by Josh Harris, the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers. The Commanders will sell for about $6.05 billion if all goes to plan.
Harris is a D.C. area native, where he grew up in Chevy Chase, Md., went to the University of Pennsylvania for college and Harvard University for his MBA. Rick Maese of The Washington Post also wrote a 2012 article noting that Harris grew up a fan of D.C. area sports teams, even the Wizards, who were the Bullets during his childhood.
Like most sports ownership groups, Harris will also have minority investors for the Commanders. They include Potomac, Md.-based philanthropist Mitchell Rales and NBA legend Magic Johnson.
Now that I got all this out of the way, how does this relate to the Washington Wizards, right now?
Since Snyder bought the Commanders in 1999, he has quickly become the most unpopular sports team owner in the DMV. A once-proud NFL franchise with three Super Bowls became a perennially mismanaged one that consistently found itself in controversy on the field, in the Ashburn headquarters and almost everywhere in between. There is no doubt in my mind that Harris will be popular among Commanders fans and the DMV, simply because he is not Snyder. At least in the short term.
In 1999, Ted Leonsis was the face of the Washington Capitals’ ownership group. And since that time, Leonsis became the face of the Mystics’ ownership in 2005 and the Wizards’ in 2010. The Capitals and Mystics have had various ups and downs, but they have won championships in the last five years.
The Wizards had three second-round playoff appearances during Leonsis’ ownership, but they haven’t had such an appearance since 2017. And Wizards fans in particular are displeased with Washington’s five straight sub .500 seasons and apparent commitment to a roster that probably won’t do much better than that. Ultimately, many Wizards fans aren’t too happy with Leonsis.
In closing, with Harris and his group coming in town to manage the Commanders, how does that affect the area’s view of Leonsis and the Wizards specifically? I don’t know to be honest.
Let us know in the comments below.