Midnight Tip-Off Exceeds All Expectations

Towards the end of Wizards Midnight Tip-Off, Ted Leonsis, Majority Owner, Chairman & CEO of the Washington Wizards, was asked if he was worried prior to the event that their would be a small crowd in attendance. The question was honest, and certainly held a legitimate concern. Would fans show up to a practice that was at midnight on a weekday?

By 10:00pm, the fans had spoken, and the answer was a resounding yes.

With a line that wrapped around the arena, the George Mason student body, as well as fans throughout Northern Virginia, came out in overwhelming numbers to support their local team at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason.

“This gave us a jolt of adrenaline and this is where our fan base is, Northern Virginia," said Leonsis. “Just like with the Caps, we want to market here, we want to make this home and the people at George Mason University have been unbelievably supportive. This is a big crowd. I think the players when they came out were shocked and very happy.”

One of those fans that made up the big crowd was Mark Seikaly, a student at George Mason University. After hearing about the event last week, Seikaly left his last class a little early to get to the arena around 8:30pm, three and a half hours before the event began and early enough to ensure that he would have front row seats to the event.

“I couldn’t miss this,” said Seikaly who is a life-long fan of the Wizards. “This is a brand new team. It will be really exciting to see what they can do. Kirk Hinrich, Yi Jianlian, Josh Howard’s back and you put that with John Wall and it’s exciting.”

The “can’t miss” event began at 11:00pm as the doors to the Patriot Center opened with the most dedicated fans being rewarded with free Chick-fil-A and Dunkin Donuts for spending a few hours in line. The fans in attendance were then treated to a dunking display by G-Man and the Secret Service Dunkers and a performance by Mambo Sauce.

The build-up came to a crescendo just before midnight as the Wizards took the court to a raucous crowd who gave the team a standing ovation throughout their warm-ups and player intros. Finally, it was time for the Wizards to take the court. After a few drills, the team capped off the practice with an open scrimmage in front of the appreciative fans.

“It was fun. It was our first time getting our jitters out,” said John Wall. “It was great, it was a great crowd and it was fun to have these students come out and support us.”

In total, over 4,000 fans came out to support the Wizards at Midnight Tip-Off.

“We worked hard with the administration and all the folks here at George Mason to get the word out and we were hopeful,” said Greg Bibb, Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Washington Wizards. “But I think the turnout exceeded everyone’s expectation. This was unbelievable. This is a great start to our 2010-11 season. We are excited about the rest of training camp at George Mason and the Patriot Center and we are eager to get the season started.”

The unbelievable night was the first of two open practices to the fans that will take place during training camp. The Wizards will also hold a Fan Fest on Sunday which will begin at 11:00am. For more information regarding Fan Fest visit Wizards Training Camp Central.

The Wizards will return to the floor on Tuesday at 2:00pm. You can catch up on all of tomorrow's action and every other Wizards training camp practice by visiting WashingtonWizardsblog.com as Wizards radio announcer, Dave Johnson, blogs live from every practice at training camp.