The Washington Wizards have struggled in recent years while failing to serve as a factor in the playoffs. This is a team that hasn't made the conference championship since 1979 and finished 11th in the East in 2018-19. Following a 32-50 season, owner Ted Leonsis is going back to the drawing board in an effort to make the Wizards a contender once again.
One of the ways in which he is looking for improvement is asking those in the know for some much-needed advice. According to Sports Illustrated, Leonsis met with 78 individuals over 3.5 months. One such individual was President Barack Obama.
"Obama championed the 'beauty of the game, teamwork, sacrifice' and surrounding franchise stars with complementary pieces," Candace Buckner of the Washington Post wrote about the meeting. "Obama, who has taken on a role with the NBA-backed Basketball Africa League, also encouraged Leonsis to invest in scouting in Africa."
Obama has a point with his advice about scouting in Africa. The continent has produced some very impressive players throughout the history of the NBA. Dikembe Mutombo was originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo while Hakeem Olajuwon was from Nigeria. There could be another star in the making just waiting for Leonsis and the Wizards.
Along with Obama, Leonsis also met with Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and Klutch Sports agent Rich Paul, who works with LeBron James. These three figures come from wildly different backgrounds, but they were able to provide some much-needed perspective. Roseman, in particular, saw his team win Super Bowl LII less than two years ago.0comments
As part of this pursuit to improve, Leonsis fired general manager Ernie Grunfeld in April and named Tommy Sheppard as interim GM. Additionally, he brought Antawn Jamison on as director of pro personnel. With these two men leading the way, at least for now, Leonsis can rest assured that the personnel department should be under better leadership. Hopefully, this will lead to more victories.
If Leonsis can follow the advice provided by President Obama and fill his team with the right pieces, a resurgence would be very possible. The Wizards have been counted down-and-out for decades, but there is no reason why they can't rise like the Phoenix once again.