Having passed up the opportunity to interview for a general manager position with at least one other NBA team in the past, Michael Winger tells Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times that he began to wonder if he would have the opportunity to become a senior executive in a front office. This was the impetus for his decision to pursue work as Wizards‘ president, a position he officially obtained on Thursday.
“I think rarely, in professional sports, do these opportunities arise where almost all of your boxes, if not all of your boxes, are checked,” says Winger. “And it was, I think, the rare and extremely lucky opportunity for someone like me to tick all the boxes: ownership, market, fanbase, already a talented team.”
Winger already knows the Washington area, as Greif notes. the old Mowers the chief executive lived in Baltimore during his senior year of law school and often visited friends in DC during that time.
“I just felt like if I ever had to challenge myself, now is the time and (Wizards owner) Ted (Leonsis) is the right person, says Winger. “I think DC is the right fan base.”
Here’s the new Wizards executive on the challenges ahead at DC and the six years he spent in Los Angeles as the Clippers’ general manager:
- According to Winger, he has achieved most of his goals with the Clippers over the past six years, helping to make the franchise a destination for stars. Of course, there is one notable objective that will not be resolved. “I would have liked to win one or more championships in the four years we had Paul (George) And Kawhi (Leonardo)but every team that tries to win a championship and doesn’t wish they would have won a championship,” Winger told Greif. “I mean, definitely winning at the top level would have been great. What else? That’s really it.
- Winger added that he still has full confidence that George and Leonard are a “championship tandem” capable of leading the Clippers to a title: “I deeply believe that these two guys, when healthy, can absolutely win a championship, so I’m kind of sad that I won’t be there when they finally do.”
- Most of Winger’s conversations with Leonsis during the interview process focused on an “overall vision” for the Wizards rather than specific roster moves, Greif writes. The plan is to further roster specific plans once Winger recruits a second executive who will focus exclusively on Wizards in a GM-like role.
- Winger said he was thrilled at the prospect of having Bradley Beal as a cornerstone of the Washington List: “His former coaches, his former teammates, they all have tremendous regard for him, and he is unequivocally a superstar. The hardest thing to do in the NBA is to develop superstar talent and it’s even harder to ‘getting superstar talent with his level of character. And so, I think that’s an extremely, extremely lucky starting point. So for me, it’s really exciting to have someone like Brad in the crew.
- Winger is confident Leonsis will “put both the resources and the patience” into building the Wizards into an organization with a winning culture, pointing to Leonsis’ work with the NHL’s Washington Capitals as proof of his ability to run a successful franchise. . “It’s just about taking some of those principles, injecting the equivalent of the nuances of the NBA into those principles, and hopefully building something that’s solid, solid, that attracts good players, attracts a good staff, keep good players, keep good staff and ultimately win basketball games,” Winger told Greif.