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Wizards' Leonsis a big fan of NBA's play-in tournament originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Though the Washington Wizards would technically still have a chance to make the playoffs if the cutoff was eight teams per conference, the NBA's new play-in tournament has certainly made it more possible for them to make something of their season, which at many times did not suggest the postseason was even possible.
Through injuries, a battle with Covid-19 and a long list of disappointing losses, they were 15 games under .500 at their worst. But now they are on the verge of clinching a spot in the play-in tournament and could make some noise if they get there, given how well they have played in recent months.
Wizards chairman Ted Leonsis spoke glowingly about the play-in tournament as a concept on Friday and hopes it is here to stay.
"I’m an unabashed fan for the play-in. I advocated long and hard last year for the play-in when we were going into the bubble. Certainly, the fans love it in each of the cities. It keeps interest in the fanbase," he said.
Leonsis added that NBA teams are "owed a lot of games" due to the coronavirus cutting both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons short in terms of total regular season games played. That means lost revenue, which the added play-in games can help recuperate.
But Leonsis also believes it helps the league from a competitive standpoint.
"To be able to have a play-in and keep fans interested and make for a team like us that’s really come on strong, I think it’s an exciting time. I’m hoping that the play-in becomes something that is an ongoing prospect for us. There’s no tanking, there’s no telling the fans ‘oh, you don’t have to come to games, you don’t have to watch on TV tonight,'" Leonsis said.
Leonsis voicing his support for the play-in tournament puts him on the opposite side of others in the NBA who have criticized it. LeBron James of the Lakers said he doesn't like it and Mavs chairman Mark Cuban voiced his displeasure.
Leonsis, though, hopes it becomes a permanent fixture for the league.