Winning NBA lottery infuses Wizards with optimism

It’s been nine years since the Washington Wizards last won the NBA draft
lottery, but it’s a little harder to pinpoint a time when the franchise
had so many options and so much opportunity and optimism. That’s what a
few favorable Ping-Pong balls will do for an organization that has been
downtrodden more often than not in the 32 years since last winning an
NBA championship.

The morning after landing the No. 1 overall pick, there were no worries
about drafting the next Kwame Brown, nor were there grand expectations
that the Wizards were going to be immediate playoff contenders next
season with likely choice John Wall.

But there finally was hope for a team that endured a season that included the death of longtime owner Abe Pollin, dissension, guns in the locker room, season-ending suspensions, season-ending injuries, a 16-game losing streak, a player-coach dustup and a felony gun conviction for the most-recognizable player. As Peter Biche, the Wizards’ president of business operations and chief financial officer, said afterward, "The bottom is behind us and we’re on the upswing now."

In a few weeks, Ted Leonsis will replace the NBA’s longest-tenured owners, the Pollin family, and take the Wizards down a path that he hopes will resemble the success that he has encountered — at least in the regular season — with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

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