A few weeks back, the Washington Wizards started a journey, one they had not been on in over six years and the general feeling around the DC area was, ‘damn it feels good to have a playoff team again.’
Fast forward to the second week in May and my, how expectations have changed.
Is it fair or even reasonable to not consider what this young Wizards team has done to be more than acceptable? This is the latest professional basketball has been played in the month of May since 1979. To be even more exact the Bullets took on the Spurs and forced Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals after being down 3-1.
If you are too young to remember that series, nobody would blame you:
So here we are now, 35 years later with a boatload of memories that all of us would love to forget. I don’t want to focus on the historical deficiencies of Washington sports franchises and elimination games at home, as Dan Steinberg did last week.
I don’t want to focus on the players who have been here and not delivered as Scott Allen did on the Bog either; although I’m sure the fellas at the Mothering Hut would be ecstatic to deliver t-shirts with the following names on it.
H/T to @DCSportsBog for the names and the font.
The motto when we started this journey in late April as fans was #dcRising and not #dcArriving.
While no one wants this season to end I believe it’s unfair of us to kill this team for what they’ve done so far without giving them their due appreciation.
Ted Leonsis has given the keys to his 485 million dollar company to a 23 year old CEO, a 20 year old COO and set them up with a board of advisers consisting of a bunch of hungry journeymen and a head coach with a 191-329 record. In retur,n those two kids and their band of AARP brothers have turned in the most successful season since 1982.
To appreciate where we are today, just look back with me to where we’ve been. Below I’ve put together the names, pictures and videos of the coaches and players who have bridged the connection between our last Conference Semifinals success to our current one:
For coaches that includes Gene Shue, Kevin Loughery, Wes Unseld, Jim Lynam, Bob Staak, Bernie Bickerstaff, Jim Brovelli, Gar Heard, Darell Walker, Leonard Hamilton, Doug Collins, Eddie Jordan, Ed Tapsoctt and now Flip Saunders.
250 players have played for the organization since 1982. Names are far ranging, eye popping and will leave some of you scratching your heads. Names like Frank Johnson, Spencer Haywood, Jeff Malone, Dudley Bradley, Leon Wood, Darrell Walker, Bernard King, Muggsy Bogues, Manute Bol, Mark Alarie, Harvey Grant, Pervis Ellison, LaBradford Smith, Rex Chapman, Don MacLean, Mark Price, Rasheed Wallace, Chris Webber, Robert Pack, Rod Strickland, Tracy Murray, God Shammgod, Darvin Ham, Jahidi White, Mitch Richmond, Tyrone Nesby, Cherokee Parks, Popeye Jones, Hubert Davis, Etan Thomas, Michael Jordan, Brenda Haywood, Kwame Brown, Jerry Stackhouse, Byron Russell, Charles Oakley, Larry Hughes, Gilbert Arenas, Peter John Ramos, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Darius Songaila, Mustafa Shakur, Yi Jianlian, Mike Bibby, Ronny Turiaf, Jannero Pargo, AJ Price, Eric Maynor and who can forget Brian Cook.
If after reliving some of your youth and looking back at those names, those pictures and those videos and you still can’t appreciate how far this young team, with an average age of 27.2 years has come then I suggest rooting for another team.
While I didn’t want this to come across as a goodbye or farewell and thanks for a great season message the main takeaway for me is to let this group of kids know how appreciative I am as a fan that they brought attention back to basketball in the Nations Capital.
Regardless of whether next year Randy Wittman will be the coach, Ernie the GM or if we resign Ariza or Gortat, Wizards fans have one more shot tonight to show their support by being loud and helping to will this team to victory.
The Wizards have proven that they are not overmatched, that they can dominate when things are clicking and I couldn’t think of a better way than to send them out other than to make it an atmosphere to remember.
The reason success feels so good for most is because most people can appreciate the struggle. The struggle makes it that much better, that much sweeter.
Enjoy tonight Wizards fans, no matter the outcome, basketball in DC is back on the map. This is #dcRising.