Tag Archive | "Washington Wizards"

wes_unseld

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Watching the Wizards — from a distance

Posted on 08 May 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

It’s hard not to watch the Wizards’ playoff run.

They’re young.  They’re exciting.  They’re from Washington.

This is Baltimore.  Just down Interstate-95, about 35-minutes south, is Washington.  Baltimore isn’t Washington–and the Wizards aren’t the hometown team.

For a decade, the Civic Center–Baltimore Areana/First Mariner Arena–housed the red-white-and-blue uniforms that represented the city’s NBA franchise.  And then, after the 1973 season, they whisked away to the greener pastures of the Washington DC suburbs of Landover.

And, like that, the Bullets were no longer property of Baltimore.

Though the franchise made an effort to travel to Charm City for several home-games each year, it was never quite right; almost like having dinner with an ex-girlfriend who says she’s confused and needs space, but you know she’s been sleeping with some other guy for quite some time.

On a personal level, a kid like me never knew any better.  Born in 1983,  I knew nothing other than vivid memories of Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, told to me by my basketball-crazed father.

Sure, as a kid we watched the Bullets on Home-Team-Sports (big-time throwback), and we went to any games that the team played in Baltimore–even though it was routinely against bottom-feeders like the Barkley-less-Sixers, the Laettner-led Timberwolves, or the JV team that used to be the New Jersey Nets.

Rex Chapman bombing threes over Hersey Hawkins, or Pervis Ellison going body-to-body with Dwayne Schintzius, wasn’t exactly a premier brand of basketball–but it was all Baltimore had.

As a kid, it was perfectly acceptable to run around the Bear Creek and West Inverness playgrounds with a handmade Tom Gugliotta jersey while bellowing out “Guuuuuuuugs.”

Ah, but ignorance is bliss.  As time went on, it became more and more apparent that the Bullets couldn’t really care less about Baltimore.

Even though mainstays like Wes Unseld and Phil Chenier claimed love for Baltimore and its fans who created a college-type of atmosphere, the organization decided that in 1997, it was the end of the yearly trips to Baltimore–officially closing the door on memory lane.

By 1998, the re-branded Wizards took to the court at the newly constructed MCI Center in the heart of one of the worst crime-laden neighborhoods in our Nation’s Capital.  And, even though Baltimore has been the backdrop of drug-infested war-stories like HBO’s The Wire, try and convince a Dundalkian, Overlean, or Parkvillian to venture into DC.

You’d have a better chance of convincing a Fallston girl to leave a Fed Hill bar and go to a keg-party in a Dundalk basement.

And that’s just it.  It’s not that Baltimore and its fans lost interest in the Bullets-turned-Wizards.  It’s that the franchise lost interest in its roots.

The official statements that the organization made and would continue to make if anyone still asked the question, would be that they aren’t going to keep piling into a dilapidated arena when they have a newer facility less-than-an-hour away.

But there’s more to the story than that; perhaps most importantly, it’s not the arena that the Bullets-Wizards franchise shunned, it’s the fans.

The fans of Baltimore who had memories of Gus Johnson and Elvin Hayes.  The fans who clamored to get tickets to watch a couple of games per year from obstructed view seats.  The fans who still think that the Wizards are part of Baltimore.

And that’s what it’s become.  A fallacy of what once was.

These days, as a kids who never really knew the Bullets like my dad did, I watch the Wizards and appreciate their youthful enthusiasm and the growing chemistry of budding superstars like Bradley Beal and John Wall.

But I look at them as I look at Oklahoma City’s franchise; or Indiana’s, or Brooklyn’s.

This is Baltimore.  And while it’s certainly understandable to like the Wizards and enjoy their run in the playoffs, it’s important to remember, they’re Washington’s team–not Baltimore’s.

Baltimore is watching–albeit from a distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I once had a Donald Sterling “slip-up” of my own

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I once had a Donald Sterling “slip-up” of my own

Posted on 29 April 2014 by Drew Forrester

We’re back.

I’m back.

It feels so good.

After a weekend of web-related issues here at WNST.net and two days of Drew-n0t-having-a-computer, the Morning Dish has returned.

I have a brand new computer, which came with its own version of sticker-shock, so I should be good-to-go for the long haul.

I was guilty of my own Donald Sterling slip-up once — back in the early 1980′s.

A friend of mine somehow entangled himself with a girl who attended Old Mill High School.

He sheepishly said to me, “Do you mind if I’m dating a girl from Old Mill?  It won’t affect our friendship will it?”

I said, “No, not at all.  Just don’t bring her to any of the games at Glen Burnie and we’ll be fine.”

Speaking of the long haul and my new computer and all that stuff — I’m guessing Donald Sterling of the L.A. Clippers is no longer in it for the long haul.

There’s not much to say or write that hasn’t been said or written already.  I’ve listened six times to the audio clip of the conversation he had with his girlfriend that was tape recorded and shared across the country over the weekend and, honestly, I’m still not exactly sure what he was saying to her.  He sounded frustrated and confused, sort of like my late, great grandfather at the family picnic.

I don’t think highly of “her”, either, but in this case, his excuse for the whole thing can’t be “I have a maniac for a girlfriend.”  He said what he said.  Given the opportunity on several times to either correct her or say, “Wait, that’s not what I meant”, he couldn’t or didn’t do it.

Like I said, there’s nothing else to say about the whole thing, really.

Donald Sterling will be ushered out of the league in a fairly expeditious manner and the Clippers will probably be better off for it.

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These NHL playoffs – even without the Washington Capitals – have been amazingly good.  The Kings were once down 3-0 in their series against the San Jose Sharks.  I wrote the words “once down” because they’ve now evened things up at 3-games-apiece after a Game 6 win in L.A.

The Chicago-St. Louis series was phenomenal.  The Blackhawks have somehow become my second favorite NHL franchise over the last few years.  Maybe it’s the jerseys.  It could go back to their win over the Flyers in the Stanley Cup a few years ago.  I don’t know why, but I just find myself watching them and rooting for them.

It’s probably the uniforms.

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If not for that buffoon Nene getting tossed out of Game 3 in Washington, the Wizards might have swept the Bulls in four games.

That said, despite how well they’ve played to date, this thing is far from a done deal for the Wizards, even with their 3-games-to-1 lead.

Remember, they’re still the Wizards.

They’re the Orioles of the NBA East.

In other words, they’re not used to winning, so when the time comes for them to muscle up and push through, they’re not all that familiar with how to get it done.

I think they’ll figure out a way to get past Chicago now that they’re staked to a 3-1 lead…all I’m saying is don’t buy your second round playoff tickets yet.

 

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B&B Rapid Fire: Wizards Will Make Conference Finals

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B&B Rapid Fire: Wizards Will Make Conference Finals

Posted on 26 April 2014 by Brett Dickinson

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Basketball Insiders’ Kyler believes Wizards/Bulls Is Best First Round Playoff Match Up

Posted on 19 April 2014 by WNST Audio

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Basketball Insiders’ Kyler thinks Wizards patience with Wall paying off

Posted on 12 February 2014 by WNST Audio

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Grunfeld

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Grunfeld Taking a Wiz on D.C.

Posted on 19 December 2012 by Brett Dickinson

Ernie GrunfeldAfter watching and following the Wizards for the past several years, only one thing comes to mind. To quote the great Vince Lombardi, “what the hell is going on out here?” No team can be more infuriating in this massive media market, than the basketball team in D.C. It all starts and finishes with one man, who has torpedoed the franchise from a consistent playoff team to the garbage that witnessed at the Verizon Center in China Town.

Luckily for Ernie Grunfeld, Michael Jordan took over another flailing franchise, or talks across the NBA would consider the Wizards one of the worst teams in the history of the game. Yet, Grunfeld returned to D.C. for another season of empty seats and an even emptier effort on the court. Now may be it is the beloved owner, Ted Leonsis’, fault for trying to instill the same ideals that have made the Capitals so relevant and successful in the NHL for such a long stretch.

This is the NBA, where building through the draft, as noble as it sounds, does not work for 90% of the teams and championships are won through free agency and buying superstars. And in a top 5 market, with a team that has a deep pocketed owner and the luxury of a fan base extending from Virginia to Maryland, spending money shouldn’t be a problem. But even if the youth movement was the goal for this team, Grunfeld completely threw that philosophy out the window with his ineptitude. He has done a halfway decent job selecting role players but it if weren’t for the luxury of picking in the top 3, two out of three seasons, this roster would have no one to build upon. John Wall can become a star but is hindered by the team around him. Bradley Beal was the best pick for this team, but what if the Bobcats took him instead, one pick before? Which role player would be riding the bench for the Wizards right now? The point is, Grunfeld has never had a good draft and only selected Wall and Beal because they were handed to him.

You can’t build through the draft with a GM that cannot draft talent.

Let’s start from the beginning to realize where and why the D.C. demise has come about. Gilbert Arenas really screwed things up, not just for his gun toting locker room antics, but his balky knees and massive contract he stole from Mr. Leonsis’ pockets. Arenas gave little for his contract and was soon on his way out of the Capital, once John Wall was drafted. But that also coincided with Grunfeld convincing everyone in the organization that the young core of Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Javal McGee would develop into a formidable starting roster.

To build a team around the dumbest three players is not only idiotic in itself but egotistical and irresponsible. Basically, Grunfeld fed Wizards fans hot dog water and presenting it as French Wine. Now they have all been moved, and even though the moves removed three cancers from a locker room, the return makes no sense, what so ever.

They received absolutely nothing for Nick Young to the Clippers or Blatche to the Nets; literally. But the big mistake was reprising McGee for Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza’s massive contracts, depleting the most valuable chip the team had; cap room.

James HardenFinally, and the last straw for a General Manager that makes a living of destroying a team and basketball fan base, was the move, or lack thereof, this offseason. Yahoo Sports reported that Grunfeld turned down an offer which included, No. 3 draft pick, Bradley Beal and last year’s top pick, Chris Singleton from the now Rockets star, James Harden. Now Beal could become a star but is more likely to be Alan Houston instead of Ray Allen (which many have compared him to). But we know what Singleton is (a decent defensive player off the bench) and we now know what James Harden is; a legit star that is carrying a Houston Rockets team to the playoffs. Not to mention he, along with his sweet man beard, is marketable and could rebuild an excitement at the Verizon Center. Harden is probably the third best shooting guard in the league (behind Kobe and Dwayne Wade) but was not worth two unproven Grunfeld draft picks.

Here at WNST Nestor started the initiative to “Free the Birds” from the Peter Angelos reigns. Well I’ll be the first here to say it is time to “Free the Wizards” from the ineptitude that is Ernie Grunfeld’s tenure. This story will continue with a look towards the future coming soon.

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Joe Johnson vs the Nets

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What Joe Johnson to the Nets Means For The Wiz

Posted on 02 July 2012 by Jesse Jones

Joe Johnson vs the Nets

Joe Johnson has been traded to the Brooklyn Nets

The Atlanta Hawks have agreed to trade superstar shooting guard Joe Johnson to the now Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams and former Wizard DeShawn Stevenson, along with a future first round pick.

My initial reaction: The Nets are serious about getting better now. But, we all knew that since they’ve been in contention for Dwight Howard for the past year.

Let’s break down what the trade meant for both teams.

The Nets get Johnson to go along with Gerald Wallace. If Deron Williams decides to stay, the Nets will have three All-Stars in their starting lineup, and quite frankly, that’s it. They now have no cap space left to trade for Dwight Howard, as all three players have max contracts. Brook Lopez is a free agent so there is no guarantee that he’ll be back next season. Even if Lopez comes back, the Nets now have no depth, especially in the front court.

Having three All-Stars is certainly a nice thing, but depth is so key in the NBA, in fact any professional sport.

The Hawks and new general manager Danny Ferry got rid of Joe Johnson’s huge contract, and appear to be in rebuilding mode with the team also trading Marvin Williams. Why they are rebuilding, I have absolutely no idea since they’ve made the playoffs the past five years, but it’s clear they are.

In return for a superstar, Atlanta now has expiring contracts of bench players and not one starter, except Stevenson because of his defense. The future first round draft pick is certainly a plus, but for right now, it seems the Hawks want to undergo a face lift.

So what does this mean for the Washington Wizards?

The Wiz Kids, who have a promising team this season, have an even better chance now to make the playoffs. The Hawks will have trouble keeping up with Miami and Orlando (if Howard stays). With a veteran front court, a young, speedy back court, and a coach that the team wants to play for in Randy Whitman, the Wiz should be good enough to finish second or third in the Southeast Division, depending on of course what happens with Howard in Orlando. They are certainly better than the Bobcats and Hawks now, but they are far away from competing with Miami for first.

With the Hawks transitioning from a playoff team to a rebuilding team, look for the Wizards to be in contention to make the playoffs, finishing anywhere from sixth to eighth place.

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