Wizards owner: Put us on national TV, our players will show up

Posted: 23/03/2017 in NBA, Sports
Tags: , , , , ,

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Despite their presence in a top-10 TV market and having two star-caliber players on its roster, the Washington Wizards don’t get a ton of national exposure. That’s why owner Ted Leonsis says the team wouldn’t be resting players if they were scheduled as such.

“I responded immediately to Adam (Silver) and said just put the Washington Wizards on national television and I’ll make sure our players show up,” Leonsis joked with CNBC’s Scott Wapner on Tuesday. “I think it’s an honor to play on national TV.”

Leonsis was commenting tongue in cheek, but his answer was to the question of NBA teams sitting out superstars in the wake of league criticism toward the Cleveland Cavaliers for doing just that over the weekend.

In that regard, he was serious.

“I was chairman of the media committee for the NBA and the networks paid a lot of money for the programming and they want to drive ratings and they deserve to have our best product out there and the best players, and so I empathize and support where our commissioner took a stand here,” Leonsis added.

The impetus for the NBA’s issue with the matter comes from the league’s media business partners like TNT and ESPN. In an era of cable-cutting, it’s understandable that networks are even more concerned about protecting their very expensive investments.

At the same time, however, the NBA tends to only show concern over the issue with marquee teams loaded with stars, such as the Cavaliers. The league remained quiet about the Phoenix Suns shutting down Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight prematurely – and while those incidences were at least partly health-related, the case can be made that regular rest is too.

Leonsis doesn’t totally disagree with the idea of a rule to prevent mass-benchings like the Cavs pulled in L.A. or like what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was fined by the league for five years ago.

“It’s a slippery slope if you put a rule out, because if a player is hurt or a player is banged up, he should be able to sit out,” Leonsis said. “You have all sorts of issues around the CBA and what’s in the best interest of the player. But I do think when you sit out three players, arbitrarily in the main game or the game of the week, that’s probably inappropriate.”

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