Bye, Bye Wizards

6/26/2009 9:11:01 AM I grew up in Maryland.  Unfortunately for me, that has not been a blessing as a sports fan.  I pull for the Terps (frustrations well documented), Orioles (13 years of misery and counting), the Ravens (my one shining star), and until recently the Wizards/Bullets.

I go way back with the Wizards/Bullets franchise.  I remember Jeff Malone.  I remember Jeff Ruland.  I even remember Steve Colter (vintage geri curl 'do!) and John "Hot Lunch" Williams.  I'm guessing most Turtle Soup readers that follow the NBA root for the Wizards too.  For those who don't, allow me to provide you with a quick summary:

  • I was born in 1974.  The Wizards haven't won 50 games in a season during my lifetime.

  • Since 1978, the Wizards have won exactly 1 playoff series: 2005 vs.  the Bulls (I was at the game 6 clincher!).

  • In a span of three years, the Wizards drafted Mugsey Bogues and Manute Bol.  That's right. The shortest and tallest players in NBA history. Were they an NBA team or a circus act?

  • In 2004, the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons started three former Wizards/Bullets: Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, and Ben Wallace.  This is a classic Bullets move: trading away or releasing your best prospects.

  • The only #1 pick in team history was used to select the immortal Kwame Brown in 2001  (Pau Gasol went #3 that year).

  • The team changed their name from the Bullets to the Wizards thereby adopting a mascot that resembled an old man with a white beard and a pointy hat.  (Note:  I would have killed to have been in the board room for this decision.  Did anyone discuss the ramifications of an old man in a robe as the logo?  How that would affect merchandise sales?  Did anyone in the front office ever take a marketing class?)  You can't make this stuff up.


After reading through that littany of disaster; you'd be hard pressed to argue that Wizards fans aren't die hards who have been summarily beaten into submission.  Nevertheless, it was hard to not get excited at the prospects for the future when Gilbert Arenas emerged as legitimate superstar in 2005.  Even though I had recently moved to Chicago, I never seriously considered giving up on  my Wizards.

That is until the events of the past week.  The Wizards had the #5 pick in this year's draft.  With that pick, they could have nabbed Ricky Rubio, a transcendent PG with rare skills.  We are talking about Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Jason Kidd--level passing ability.  As it turned out, the Wizards shipped the pick to Minnesota for two role players: Mike Miller and Randy Foye.  It's the classic two dimes for a quarter.

I've heard the counter-arguments.  The Wizards already have a superstar PG in Gilbert Arenas.  I hate to break it to you, but Arenas is a shoot-first PG and that dog just won't hunt in the NBA.  Sure, you make the playoffs with a shoot-first PG, but you can't win a title.  The Wiz should have drafted Rubio and rolled the dice.  They could go small and play Arenas and Rubio together (moving arenas to shooting guard), or they could bring Rubio off the bench (for a few years) and have one of the best second units in the league.  Either way, picking Rubio would have altered the destiny of the team.

Now, it's back to hoping for mediocrity.  That is why after much consternation; I'm throwing my  support over to Derrick Rose and the Bulls.  I'm tired of pulling for a team with a front office that would be legendary for its ineptitude if not for the LA Clippers.  The Bulls are young and exciting.  They haven't accomplished anything yet, so I don't feel like I am jumping on the bandwagon.

In the final analysis, I feel that the Wizards left me and not the other way around.  There is only so much that a fan can put up with and I finally reached my breaking point.   I've washed my hands of them.

OK.  Thanks for indulging my NBA diatribe.  From now on, it's back to the Terps -- a team I will never stop supporting.
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