The Thunder visit the Washington Wizards tonight for the conclusion of their regular season series. If you have watched the actions of either team at all this season, you would likely be struck by the obvious discrepancy in each team's directional path. The Thunder, two years removed from the basement in the Northwest, are on a trajectory to win more than the 50 games they took last year, and are actively being touted as the team of the present and the future. The Wizards, meanwhile, are stuck in the basement and looking to the mid-west for some answers. Is there an emerging "Oklahoma City Model?"
I sympathize with the Washington Wizards. I truly do. I lived in the DC metro area for the better part of the last decade, so I got to experience first hand such key moments as:
- Michael Jordan drafting Kwame Brown;
- Michael Jordan returning to play two buzz-worthy but ultimately forgotten years;
- Michael Jordan getting hustled out of his ownership stake, leading Hall of Fame coach John Thompson to utter that the team treated him like a whore;
- The late owner Abe Pollin once had a cake wheeled on the court to celebrate Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison for having been selected as All-Stars;
- Gilbert Arenas signed a $111 million contract while he was on injured reserve after blowing out his meniscus;
- Gilbert Arenas flashed some firearms in the locker room, which was really the beginning of the end;
- The Wiz finished with a record in 2010 bad enough to draft John Wall;
- The Wizards are currently 1-29 in road games and will be duking it out for the #1 draft spot once more.
- Lose a while, collect young talent through the draft, create salary cap space;
The Wizards play a truly mindless game. Wall runs down like a sprinter shot out of the blocks and tries to throw lob passes when he could get an easy layup. Blatche is a seven footer with athletic advantages who spends most of his time taking difficult, baseline fallaways…Young never met a shot he wouldn’t take.
JaVale McGee jumps at everything, and does get to a few balls, but all you have to do is roll to the basket and it’s layup after dunk.
The next aggressive defensive contest you see from a Washington player may be the first.
Borders's finances crumbled amid declining interest in bricks-and-mortar booksellers, a broad cultural trend for which it offered no answers. The bookseller suffered a series of management gaffes, piled up unsustainable debts and failed to cultivate a meaningful presence on the Internet or in increasingly popular digital e-readers.Its online struggles proved critical as consumers became accustomed to getting books mailed to their doorsteps or downloaded to handheld electronic devices. Among Borders's biggest missteps were decisions to transfer its Internet operations to Amazon.com Inc. about a decade ago, and a stock-buyback program coupled with overseas expansion that swelled the company's debt.
Oversimplifying the equation to the absurd, here appears to be the Borders business model:
- Pattern itself after Barnes, right down to the awful coffee and overpriced snacks in the cafe;
I know that is a lot to ask but we have to be honest with everyone. We will load up on young players. We will await the new rules (if any) in the NBA. We will add free agents. We will make trades. We will play the youngsters to gain experience and then I think we will have a very good team for a long, long time. That is the plan.
Is this plan enough? Here is what is missing, and in my opinion what separates Presti from the rest: he has brought a mindset to the team a philosophy on how to marginalize the team's exposure to risk. This risk is that of unhappy players, of bad contracts, of injuries, and of the changing rules. Presti has immunized his team balance sheet.
Will Leonsis bring the lessons he has learned from the past to do the same? That there is a good ??? indeed.