Owner Leonsis tempers expectations for Wizards

Associated Press Modified: October 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm •  Published: October 4, 2012

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — September wasn't kind to Ted Leonsis.

His successful NHL team, the Capitals, is locked out in a labor dispute. His WNBA Mystics ended the season with a 13-game losing streak and then finished last in the draft lottery. Even Madonna let him down, showing up so late for her concerts at the Verizon Center that he had to pay for the subway system to stay open for fans to get home.

And then came the news, just days before the opening of training camp, that marquee player John Wall would miss the first month or so of the Wizards' NBA season because of a knee injury.

Fortunately for his morale, this is a man who wrote a book called "The Business of Happiness."

"I kind of play the ball where it lies," the former AOL executive said Thursday night during a Wizards training camp practice. "In what other business do pingpong balls drive a lot of your success and make your investment worth more or less? Health? I never once said at AOL or Groupon in a board meeting: 'That JavaScript coder blew his elbow out — that app that we need is never going to happen.'

"It's why when you overcome all those things and you win, life's so exhilarating."

Because of the NHL lockout, Leonsis limited his thoughts to the Wizards, who have been a test of his patience since he bought the team in the spring of 2010 following the death of longtime owner Abe Pollin. Washington is 43-105 under Leonsis' stewardship, and he said at the draft in June that another appearance in the lottery would be "unacceptable."

Now that camp is under way — with former No. 1 overall pick Wall on the sidelines nursing the early stages of a stress injury to his left knee cap — the expectations are a bit tempered.

"We would all find it unacceptable if we finished with the second- or third-worst record in the NBA this year," Leonsis said. "That would be a failure, and the failure would start with me."