What Can We Learn About and From the NBA Champion 1978 Washington Bullets?

What Can We Learn About and From the NBA Champion 1978 Washington Bullets?

The Wizard’s series of promotions and ceremonies commemorating and celebrating the Bullets 1978 NBA Championship has been a success – serving not only as a convenient distraction from the current team’s woeful early spring, but also as an instruction in the franchise’s ancestral tradition of winning that most fans under 40 probably never fully appreciated.

Sure, any semi-competent Wizards fan knows that the team has one NBA title to its name, but it was won so many years ago that any pride new generations of fans might hope to extract from it has long since expired. The lone championship banner hanging in the Capital One Arena has always been like the black-and-white pictures of your long-deceased great grandparents that your mother displays on the piano; the single Larry O’Brien trophy in the mezzanine trophy case like the forgotten antique crystal vase stored away in the china cabinet to preserve the family heirloom from wear. We know these relics carry some significance to our heritage, but their origins are so far removed from our everyday experience that we struggle to attribute the appropriate value to them.

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As such, the 40-year anniversary of this franchise’s crowning achievement has proven an opportune time to recount the old legends of our success and sustained excellence to fans who have known only mediocrity and disappointment. I, for one, have learned a ton about this team’s history – history I previously only vaguely understood – by watching the documentary on our banner year, listening to interviews of our former champions, and reading profiles both new and old of our winningest teams. Perhaps this is even the optimal time for reminiscing on our solitary triumph, as the highest-potential Wizards squad since that championship team limps into a playoffs where it hopes to take the next step to winning a second trophy.

I think all of us – fans, media, and the WizKids players themselves – can learn some valuable lessons from the ‘78 NBA Champions and from what it took for them to earn that title. Then, this anniversary celebration can be more than just an exercise in decades-late self-applause or a marketing ploy to sell more season tickets. Here are a few takeaways that the 1978 Bullets can teach us about our NBA heritage and about what it takes to be a champion.

A Heritage of Winning: We are the descendants of winners.

This is the most critical fact that the Bullets40 hashtag calls us to remember. Winning is in our blood. Winning on the largest of stages. Hard-earned winning. Perennial winning.

Younger fans can be forgiven for underestimating how great our team once was. Our championship was won just before Larry Bird and Magic Johnson galvanized the league, and while the highlights of those stars’ triumphs are easily accessed in YouTube montages and 30 for 30’s, the footage of our heroes is grainy and rarely aired.

Maybe that’s why fans seem to only vaguely recall our championship story, some misremembering it as a fluky playoff run, or dismissing it as from a time when the level of competition was subpar. The championship documentary sets the record straight. The Bullets of those days were serious contenders each and every year, making more Finals in the decade than any other team (4 times – ’71, ’75, ’78, ’79), being heavy favorites in some of those Finals, and making a return trip to the championship round the year after their banner-raising season. That’s no fluke, that’s sustained excellence. And the level of competition in the NBA was higher, not lower. With only 22 teams in the league, each squad was stacked with premier talent. Of these, the Bullets were the best.

Team Identity is Set at the Top: The 1978 Bullets, much like their counterparts from forty years later, were led by an All-Star duo whom teammates relied on for energy and to establish the team’s identity. Hall of Famer big men Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes dripped with contagious motivation, and they dictated that the team’s persona would be a punishing one. Hayes made his living putting in work in the low post, and Unseld – built like the Hulk – did the dirty work on the boards, on the defensive end, and anywhere else he could fling his massive body around to help the team win. Taking the lead from Wes and Elvin, the team’s mantra became to do whatever it took to win. Opponents knew when facing the Bullets that every game would be a dogfight.

John Wall and Bradley Beal can take a page out of the book of their forerunners in this regard. The WizKid pair are already the undisputed leaders and brightest hopes for this roster, but to take the next step they need to take it upon themselves to set the standard for how this team plays every night. Wes and Elvin were bullies in the paint; John and Brad need to be the same on the perimeter.

Gotta’ Beat the Best to Be the Best: For anybody fretting that the Wizards won’t have a chance in the playoffs if they fall to too low a seed, and for those with designs of manipulating our way to the 7th spot to face-off against the depleted Celtics, let me remind you the ’78 Bullets made it to the Finals after knocking off the #1 and #2 seeds. The Bullets took down George “Iceman” Gervin’s Spurs in the Conference Semis before toppling Dr. J and the Sixers to advance to the Finals

You have to beat the best to be the best. And by beating the best, you become even better. So, let’s not sweat about playoff seeding and matchups over the last weeks of the season – Cavs, Raptors, Sixers, Pacers – it’s all the same! It’s more important to focus on how we’re playing as a team, which brings us to the next point.

Success is All About Timing: As mentioned before, the 78 Bullets won the title after finishing the regular season with a record far off the league-best mark, posting a record of 44-38 (is it fate if we finish with an identical record??). The team had a tumultuous season that saw them lose six of the first ten games and then suffer a season-ending injury to key contributor Phil Chenier. Despite the turbulence, the Bullets started gelling at the end of the season, playing their best basketball and carrying the momentum into the playoffs where it translated into success.

The current Wizards can draw a lot of parallels between their uneven season and that of the old championship squad. Player controversies, injuries, and poor performances have characterized the first nine-tenths of this campaign. However, like with the 78 Bullets, there still remains the opportunity for the team to change this narrative by coming together and playing its best ball over the last games of the year. Especially with John Wall coming back soon, the focus needs to be on getting everybody on the same page, playing together seamlessly, and geared up for a deep post-season run.

Homecourt Advantage is Critical: The onus of this key takeaway rests solely on us, the fans of the Washington Wizards. Several of the Bullets champions credit the fans of the 70’s for being a huge motivator, source of energy, and competitive advantage. They say the home crowd made the Capital Arena the loudest place they’d ever played. Who’s ever said any of these things about the spectators in the MCI Center/Verizon Center/Capital One Arena?

I’ve heard all the excuses – DC is a transient town, fans in the district have become wary of getting disappointed again, “I’m saving my voice to scream for free Chickfila in the 4th Quarter” – and they’re all crap! If we want a championship-quality team, we fans need to do our part by being of that same caliber. That means showing up early, cheering the whole game, standing up for important possessions, and heckling the hell out of opponents and all their bandwagon fans. Game 3 of the 2015 Wizards-Bulls playoffs, our first home playoff game in 8 years, was the loudest, most raucous I’ve ever seen our arena, from pre-game to final buzzer. We need to collectively bring that level of intensity every time out from now til the player debriefs in the summer.

In Conclusion: Conventional wisdom says that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Maybe for the Wizards it will prove that by learning from our history we’ll be able to repeat it.

As we participate in these 40-year anniversary events and re-educate ourselves on our previous success, we must do so with a mindset intent on picking up clues for how to replicate that success. The 1978 Bullets have reminded us that we’re winners at our core, that we come from the stock of champions. They’ve also taught us and inspired to hope to be champions once again.

Are 2018-2019 Wizards Season Tickets Worth the Money?

Are 2018-2019 Wizards Season Tickets Worth the Money?

I am a 2-year Wizards season-ticket holder. No, I don’t currently have season tickets, which might compel you to describe me instead as an ex-season-ticket holder. I, however, subscribe to the theory that season-ticket holder status – sometimes used as a badge of one’s fandom – is more akin to martial arts belts, which are progressively earned through cumulating experience, than to Costco membership, which you either pay annually to retain or you don’t. I contend that you can’t lose your season-ticket holder status, you can only develop it, moving up to higher ranks through additional years of patronage.

All this is to say that while I’ve remained stagnant as a Level 2 Wizards STH, I still harbor ambitions of someday returning to the DC12 Club and graduating to the higher ranks of its membership. Alas, Ted Leonsis’s seemingly annual price hikes, combined with the financial responsibilities of new fatherhood, are pushing that goal farther and farther into the realm of distant pipe dreams. Nevertheless, I’ve persisted in the practice I’ve maintained over the past few seasons of documenting the individual game ticket prices for the purpose of evaluating whether Wizards season tickets are or are not a good deal. Here’s the analysis for this upcoming season:

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Methodology: Each year, including this one, my approach to collecting and analyzing ticket data has grown more sophisticated. In the past, I did my best to monitor ticket prices to find the best deal possible for each home game for two tickets in one of the Lower End sections – since this is where I used to have tickets (Section 117 Row S represent!!). This year, I managed to cobble together an application that pulls statistics of the ticket inventory available on StubHub, letting me see the cheapest available tickets for every section in Capital One Arena for each upcoming game. Not only does this give me more accurate and comprehensive data for this year’s analysis, I’m also now able to evaluate the STH-decision for every section in the arena.

For this analysis, I’m only focusing on the sections in the lower bowl of the arena because, let’s be honest, it doesn’t take much critical thinking to see that upper level season-tickets are a god-awful proposition. Why anybody would pay over $1,500 – much less the $3,200 some upper sections cost (WTF??) – for a worst experience than you can get from the comfort of your couch at home, is beyond me. For that money you can get good to great seats to a bunch of good games, so why opt instead to lock yourself into paying full price for the shittiest nosebleeds to all the crappiest games? Seriously why?

Regular-Season Numbers: The essential question when evaluating the value of season tickets is this: does buying a season ticket package get me cheaper tickets over the year than buying tickets individually?

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to each purchasing strategy, such as the flexibility of buying tickets on a by-game basis, versus the pride and perks that come with being a STH. Putting all the fringe benefits aside, however, let’s just look at which option is cheaper by comparing the STH prices to the prices you could pay on the secondary market (i.e. NBA Ticket Exchange, Stubhub) to get into each game. The spreadsheet below shows a summary-level view of this comparison:

STH High Level

This isn’t an exact science, as the STH prices we’re citing are the cheapest ones for each section, as are the secondary market prices. There is likely to be rather large of prices within a single section. However, it is noteworthy that the STH discount is universally less than 7%, and even negative for the most expensive sections.

These numbers will be disconcerting for incumbent and prospective STHs. When you purchase professional basketball in bulk, you’d hope that you’re at least getting a better deal than the guy sitting next to you who’ there for his one game of the season. It seems that Ted has set the STH prices to purposefully make these numbers line up pretty closely, possibly to put upward pressure on the prices of resale tickets – which routinely undercut Monumental’s individual game prices. Strategically planned by Leonsis or not, at face value, the economics of season tickets are rather lackluster in financial appeal.

Click here for a detailed view of the STH vs per-game price comparison, with a breakdown of the secondary market prices for every home game.

A Tale of Two Markets: If season tickets save you very little money compared to buying tickets on a per-game basis, then why does anybody do it?

Because the costs of admission to the premium games are so high. More than any other American professional sports league, the NBA is star-driven. Moreover, the average sports fan only knows and appreciates the very top echelon of All-Star players, which constitutes only a handful of guys. The result? Rabid demand and extraordinary prices for only the most marquee matchups on the Wizards schedule. Everybody wants to see the Cavaliers and the Warriors, sending the prices for those games skyrocketing.

The table below shows the prices on the secondary market for the Top 7 games by ticket price on the Wizards calendar. Cells highlighted in green show where STH prices constitute at least a 25% saving over individual game prices.

STH Top 7

This is perhaps Monumental’s biggest selling point. A Wizards fan (probably more casual than diehard) wants to see the squad take on the NBA heavyweights, but every time he looks for tickets to one of the good upcoming games, the costs are crazy high. He starts envying the folks who got into these games for a fraction of the prices he’s looking at, and considers signing up for season ticks for the upcoming season.

There is a flip-side to this pricing dynamic, however. It’s true that being a STH gets you a great deal for the most hotly anticipated tilts of the year, but it also locks you into a bad bargain for a larger slew of less stellar matchups. The table below shows the prices on the secondary market for the Bottom 12 games by ticket price on the Wizards schedule. Cells highlighted in red show where individual game prices constitute at least a 25% saving over STH prices.

STH Bottom 12

As you can see, over the course of a season, any money/savings you accrue on the top tier games are wiped out by what you lose/overpay on the games at the lower end of the spectrum. Thus, it’s wiser to get your tickets a game at a time, even if you really want to go to all the expensive contests – you may pay a surcharge for those games, but at least you don’t get stuck with a heavy bill for tickets to games nobody else wants to attend.

Playoff Numbers: If there’s any potentially redeeming quality about the DC12 Club, it’s the cheap access STHs get to the Wizard’s home playoff games. This pitch is what got me to originally sign-up for season membership, and the lack of this benefit after the 15-16 season is what made it a no-brainer not to renew that year. Of course this playoff benefit has to be taken into account when evaluating the worth of season tickets.

The value of the perk is a tricky thing to gauge, however, when the Wizard’s chances for playoff success, and even the identity of their potential opponents, is very up in the air. How many home playoff games will we get? Will it be one series worth or three? Will the series stretch to Game 7 or will be swept out? And equally important, what team will we be matched up with? Any DC playoff ticket will be a hot commodity, no doubt, but there’s a huge difference between the frenzied buzz that would surround a matchup with Lebron’s Cavs and the modest intrigue that we might expect from a first-round matchup with the Pacers.

These things are impossible to know. The best we can do is use the data we have to project the playoff ticket prices, and then keep a close eye on the standings. The table below gives a rough estimate of how much STH access to playoff tickets are worth for a 1st round series against our various potential opponents. Note: These numbers are calculated by STH price minus secondary market price (assuming playoff tickets on StubHub, etc. go for 1.5X the price of the identical regular season match-ups) times an expected 2.5 home games.

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The figures show that there is a very wide range of outcomes. Depending on who we face-off against in the playoffs, and whether or not we beat them, and if we do beat them then who we face-off against next, the yield from the STH playoff access can fall anywhere between minimal and gargantuan. The ideal situation from this perspective would be for the WizKids to fall to #7 to take on the Celtics in the first-round, beat them in six games, and then go on to play the Cavs in a 3-seed vs 7-seed matchup. The nightmare situation would be for the Wizards to get bounced by the Pacers in a first-round series.

You’ll have to decide for yourself what you want to make out of this playoff benefit. You certainly have to take it into consideration, and there is the possibility of it yielding tremendous upside. However, there is so much luck and uncertainty involved that banking on any playoff returns is as good as gambling.

Wrap-Up: In the end, the analysis shows that Wizards season tickets – especially after price hikes – are a poor deal, with the one caveat that a favorable combination of playoff success and lucrative match-ups could potentially push the numbers from red into the black.

For me, though I’d love to be able to call myself a STH, the flexibility and value you get from cherry picking tickets on secondary markets is too good to pass up. Low prices for unheralded matchups are a gold mine for hardcore fans – there’s no such thing as a bad game when the main attraction for you is always the home team. And the ignorance of the average fan means you can score cheap tickets to great games – you mean I can see Anthony Davis, the Greek Freak, and the Raptors all for cheaper than STHs? Yes, please!

Maybe one day I’ll be able to rejoin the likes of the DC12 club. Barring a major price decrease, the introduction of some additional value-add benefits, or the serious potential for a playoff run to the NBA Finals, I don’t see it happening any time soon.

Polish Hammered: Gortat Among Most-Blocked Players in the NBA

Polish Hammered: Gortat Among Most-Blocked Players in the NBA

There have been a lot of frustrations so far this year with the lackluster play from the Center position for the Washington Wizards. It’s the weakest position on the team by far and, amazingly (or depressingly), that hole in the roster is costing us $34 million this season.

Particularly disheartening is watching Marcin Gortat, the so-called “Polish Hammer,” constantly throwing up Charmin-soft bunnies that routinely get hammered back into his face. You’d think that getting someone so big the ball within a few feet of the hoop would be an automatic deuce, and yet, this season, it’s been just as likely to result in a fast-break the other way. This trend has earned the starting 7-footer a collection of dirty looks from the Point Guard, incredulous to see a beautiful set-up vanish into thin-air. No doubt, this has fueled the tension and discord between John Wall and Gortat that has disrupt the team’s cohesion this year.

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The low-point was during last week’s Wizards-Raptors game when Gortat caught a pass in the lane, turned towards the basket, and had his shot capped by six-foot-nothing doughboy Kyle Lowry. After that embarrassment, I decided to take a closer look at the numbers to confirm that the stats validated what I was seeing. They did.

Here are the league leaders at getting rejected, in terms of percentage of shots they put up that get blocked (min. 250 FG attempts):

Blocked Attempts

There’s Marcin Gortat at number 4. It make sense for there to be a lot of centers at the top of the list, since they take a look of shots in the paint, where the rim protectors roam. But interestingly, among the other Centers near the top of this list (e.g. Capela, Howard, Whiteside), Gortat is the only one who averages less than 10 PPG. A big reason for that? He’s going to the free throw-line far less often, probably because he goes up so soft with the ball.

Conclusion: If Marcin Gortat, perpetually salty about the love he gets from the team and fans, wants more respect, than maybe he should get tough again and start banging on people’s heads rather than trying to get by on his not-skilled-enough finesse game.

PSA: You Can Watch the Wizards Play Lebron James This Sunday for Super Cheap

Since this is a Wizards blog, it feels weird, almost wrong to get hyped up about the chance to see a player from an opposing team. It’s even worse when that team is an Eastern Conference foe, and almost unforgivable when that player is a notorious Wizards killer.

Still, Lebron James is arguably the best basketball player of all-time, watching him play in person should be near the top of any sports fans current bucket list, and this week you can catch him in action for the low.

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The Wizards have two regular season tilts against the Cleveland Cavaliers this year, on November 3rd and December 17th. The average prices for on Stubhub for a ticket to those games is currently around $275 and $333, respectively, with the cheapest Lower Level seats going for $155 and $166 a ticket, respectively. Contrast that with the game this upcoming Sunday afternoon, for which the average ticket price is $69 and for which you can get a Lower Level seat for as low as $34.

Now I know the Sunday afternoon Wizards-Cavs matchup is only a preseason game, but this is still professional basketball and Lebron is still going to play in the game and show at least some effort. In fact, Lebron’s pre-season stats show that he tries pretty hard in exhibition games, at least while he’s on the court. Since the 2010-2011 season, Lebron has played in 31 preseason games and averaged 25 minutes, 16.6 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.4 rebounds. Basically, you’re getting 2/3 of full-capacity Lebron, but for 1/4 the price.

I saw Lebron in a preseason game back in 2011, when he was still playing for the Miami Heat. He didn’t stay in the game for much more than 25 minutes, but when he was in there he was slamming home alley-oops, throwing no-look cross-court passes, and doing all the other things that make him both immensely fun to watch and the most talented player of a generation. I remember leaving the arena and thinking it was crazy that I got to “witness” all that for so just a few bucks. This Sunday’s game is another opportunity to cash in on a similar deal. Even if you hate Lebron, even if you think he’ll never live up to Michael Jordan’s standard, even if the only thing you’d want to do if you saw him at a game is wave Crying Lebron signs at him, you still can’t deny that the chance to see him play for cheap this weekend is a steal.

Should John Wall and Bradley Beal Stick to Sports?

“Stick to sports” is usually a phrase people use to try to shut up athletes when they use their platforms to take stances those people disagree with. In other cases, “stick to sports” is invoked as a Fifth Amendment-like protection for athletes who want to stay out of social debates for fear of the backlash that comes with having an opinion. Then this past week, it got much harder to “stick to sports” after the Donald Trump was unable to stick to politics and unleashed a litany of attacks on professional football and basketball players for protesting during the national anthem or rejecting his invitation to the White House.

In response to Trump’s comments, many prominent figures in the sports world, some unprompted and others coerced, have publicly offered their two-cents via a statement or demonstration. This includes local basketball stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, who at Wizards Media Day on Monday weighed in on the controversy.

But should DC’s All-Star backcourt involve themselves in political and social movements, or do we Wizards fans want them to just stick to sports?

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Social Responsibility

Lebron James and his band of Team USA teammates set the mark for professional athletes speaking out on social injustices. They’ve put forth an example that obliges the most successful athletes to use the money and fame they’ve gained from sports to stand up for the people from the communities they were raised in.

John and Brad feel that as the established superstars and leaders of this franchise, the call to be vocal on important social issues falls to them. And rightfully so. They’ve been blessed with a combination of great talents and opportunities that has afforded them lives of luxury and a platform for social impact that 99.9% of the population could only dream about. It’s only right that they use those resources to pay it forward and make a positive impact for the less privileged. John even called on NFL stars Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers to use their celebrity to speak out against Trump’s comments.

It’s clear that both Wizards stars subscribe to the philosophy that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” They’re right in that regard. However, their responsibility doesn’t end at expressing their displeasure with tweets from the President. If Wall and Beal want to venture out of their lanes to take on the burden of social and political activism, then they have a duty to the team and it’s fans to be thoughtful, educated, invested, and unified in the issues they speak out about.

Stay Authentic

I’d hope that most Wizards fans, whether or not they agree with the positions John and Brad might take publicly, would respect the young men’s right to express their opinions. That’s probably a naive hope in our politically charged times, and I’ve already seen Twitter commenters blindly bashing the stars for the views they shared Monday.

John and Brad can wield more respect and credibility, however, if they stay authentic and stand up for only causes that they are truly passionate about and emotionally invested in. There’s a new outrage over politically-incorrectness every week, and the Wizkid’s voices will get old quick if they feel they have to weigh in on each one of these uproars. But if they choose to speak up about topics that truly affect them and the people they love, well then, who can fault them?

Monday’s comments were a mixed bag in this regard. It was obvious that both John and Brad are passionate about what is going on in the country, but it wasn’t clear which issue they were taking a stand on. Were they mad about social injustice, the Hurricane Maria response, or Trump’s attacks on professional athletes? Being authentic also means being focused.

What’s Your Message?

Another responsibility that falls to Wall and Beal is that they need to have an actionable message. Okay you’re upset, but what do you want done about it? What do you want us to do about it? What are you yourself going to do about it? Without a clear message, you’re just another angry talking head, and those come a dime three dozen.

John did a good job of conveying a message when he encouraged school students to stay positive in the wake of the Charlottesville, and again when he called on top NFL quarterbacks to be leaders in the anthem protests. But John and Brad missed the mark here at their presser on Monday. What purpose does it serve to tell the world the President is a clown, or that he does not carry your respect? What are the kids watching your interview supposed to do with that? Donald Trump’s value proposition is seemingly his ability to divide people, even on issues that don’t normally incite debate. It’s easy to fall into his trap of arguing and name calling, but that only exacerbates the national divisions you intended to speak out against.

Our local NBA stars have an unparalleled platform for reaching young minds and being a positive influence, so they should use it wisely. They need to rise above the pettiness and spread a word that will actually help people.

Do Your Homework

Beal and Wall each only went to college for one year, but they’re two bright guys. That’s good, because a top pre-requisite for athletes venturing outside of sports is that they’re educated on the topics they engage on. If you’re going to raise awareness or advocate for your fans to do something, you better know what you’re talking about.

Fortunately, both John and Brad appear to be well informed on current events thus far. They’ve clearly been following the news closely and talking to affected people. Thus they were able to speak intelligently on the topics at hand. Let’s just hope they continue to do so. It will get harder to stay educated as the season kicks into gear, but it’s imperative if they want to establish themselves as social leaders.

A Unified Front

An important thing for John and Brad to remember is that wherever they go, they’re not representing only their own views, but also the Washington Wizards as a team and an organization. So in this regard, they have to make sure that everyone is on board with their activism, lest their comments about non-basketball issues lead to problems in the locker room.

This past weekend in the NFL, we saw that more important than whether a team stood or kneeled for the anthem, was whether they did it together. In London some Ravens players kneeled while others didn’t and the coach said the only time he’d kneel was to say a prayer. They got historically pummeled by the Jaguars. The Steelers opted to stay in the locker room for the anthem, but one player bucked the team and came out alone to hear it. The team lost to a Bears team they were supposed to beat easily. Meanwhile, the Cowboys kneeled in unison as a team before the anthem and locked arms during it. They walked over the Cardinals on the road. Team unity matters.

John and Brad are NBA veterans now and they’ve earned the respect of their locker room. I wouldn’t anticipate much turmoil coming from their fielding questions on politics. Still, they have to be sure that whatever they do or say, that they do it together and that they have the full support of the rest of the squad.

Do Your Job First

John Wall and Bradley Beal’s status as star basketball players may allow them to be advocates for social change, but at the end of the day they’re basketball players first. Therefore, basketball has to remain their primary focus. Regardless of how authentic, educated, and unified the pair are in their activism, Wizards fans are going to be upset with them if their play slips and they start losing games. Conversely, if they’re killing it on the court, they will have far fewer critics of their not sticking to sports, not to mention more media attention and a bigger reach.

That means don’t let your social commentary become a distraction. Make a statement when the time is appropriate, but spend most of your time playing basketball and talking about basketball. Then, when you win D.C. a championship, you’ll have our full attention when you want to urge us to take action on a divisive issue.

As Wizards fans, we should be proud of John Wall and Bradley Beal’s evolution from young pups into bonafide stars eager and willing to make a social impact. We saw Monday that they’re ready to take on the challenge of being social leaders, and that they have big hearts that look out for others. Still, while their comments came from the best of intentions, they showed that John and Brad still have work to do in this new role they’re assuming. They need to be strategic, deliberate, and well-researched with the topics they speak out about. If they do this, then we fans will accept their social commentary and their role in offering it. If they don’t, then yes, they should probably stick to sports.

10 Best Wizards Games For Value

If you happen to fall in the small demographic intersection between folks who follow D.C. basketball religiously and those that have thousands of dollars of discretionary income to spend on sports, then you’re probably already one of the reported record breaking number of Wizards season ticket holders.

If you merely love this basketball team, but have about five hundred other bills that take priority over buying basketball tickets, then you have to be more selective about which games you choose to attend in person. Fortunately, by using the resale markets and choosing games wisely, a saavy Wizards supporter can attend enough good games to satisfy any basketball fan for a fraction of the price of season tickets. In that vein, I’ve compiled a list of the best home games from a cost vs. entertainment value standpoint.

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Assumptions

The list is obviously going to be very subjective, but I did impose some limitations and assumptions when making these selections:

  1. Who the Hell legitimately has the time to attend 41 home games? Ten is a far more practical number of games to attend, so we’re going to pick the best possible slate of ten games.
  2. We’re going to assume that we’ll be buying two tickets in the lower level sections behind the basket, which in my opinion offer the best value in the arena.
  3. Since we’re picking a quarter of the games, we’ll limit our budget to 1/4 of the season ticket holder price. Two tickets in thr LL end sections go for about $4,200, so we’ll pick the 10 best games you could attend for $1,050.
  4. The prices quoted are based off the prices found on NBA Ticket Exchange for two tickets in the LL end sections for the same game or a comparable game from last season (cataloged in this previous post.)
  5. The selection of games will be picked to distribute the game dates across the NBA calendar, include a mix of weekend and weeknight games, and feature a range of NBA teams.
  6. This list is factually correct and beyond question.

 

And without further ado, here’s a look at Top 10 games for value, in order of where they are on the calendar:

vs. Philadelphia 76ers; Wednesday  10/18 $70:

Of course you have to go to the home opener! The first starting lineup introductions of the year are going to be lit, there will be free t-shirts for all in attendance (and a bunch of extras for those who linger around afterwards), the players are going to show out, and above all, basketball is back!

The Sixers are an fun matchup for the first game too. They have a talented, young squad that will be looking to establish themselves as Wizards rivals over the next couple years. We’ll see if John, Brad, and Otto can continue to son them for the time being.

Extra value points for this game if the team decides to start it with the first division champion banner-raising ceremony in who knows how long.

vs Phoenix Suns; Wednesday 11/1 $40

The fact that this is one of the cheapest games on the calendar makes it a hard one to say no to. The attraction of seeing one of the most talented up-and-coming scorers in the league, Devin Booker of last seasons 70 point outburst, makes it even more appealing. Then there’s the duel between John and his former Kentucky backcourt-mate Eric Bledsoe.

But what really earns this game a spot in this list is that it serves as this year’s Halloween game. Grab your favorite Gandalf, or Harry Potter, or generic wizard costume and head out to the arena. There’s nothing better than the innocent fun of cheering for the Wizards dressed as an actual wizard.

vs Cleveland Cavaliers; Sunday 12/17 $250

Since this is a list of the most price-effective games, it might seem odd to have one game that eats up a quarter of our allotted budget. Well, if you’re going to drop big bucks on a game, this is the one to do it on.

Last year’s contest between these two teams was perhaps the regular season game of the year, and it should be great again this season. This game will still be much cheaper than the Warriors game, and it will in all likelihood be the last time we have a regular season game against Lebron in a Cleveland jersey. $250 seems expensive in the context of this list, but it’ll be a bargain compared to price of seeing Lebron next year when he’s on the Lakers.

vs New Orleans Pelicans; Tuesday 12/19 $70

Is #DC2DC the next Twitter movement in Washington? If so (hint: it is), this reunion of John Wall and his BFF from Kentucky, Demarcus Cousins, should prove to be quite a compelling game.

And don’t forget Anthony Davis. Anytime you can see a top-10 talent for bottom-barrel prices, you take it.

vs. Milwaukee Bucks; Monday 1/15 $65

It seems that every year, the NBA schedulers give the Wizards a game on MLK Day. I’m certainly not complaining because I go to this game every year. There’s something about using your day off from work to watch professional athletes from different races, nations, and creeds play a game of basketball that feels like an oddly appropriate way to honor King’s legacy. If it’s not too cold, you can go down to the MLK and/or Lincoln Memorial after the game.

Also, the same thing I said for AD goes for the Greek Freak, Giannis: you don’t pass up opportunities to  watch top-10 talent for bargain prices.

vs Oklahoma City Thunder; Tuesday 1/30 $150

There isn’t any price undervaluing, tie-in holiday, promotional giveaway, or extracurricular storylines associated with this game; it’s just going to be one of the most entertaining contests of the year. Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook is a highlight reel all on his own, and there’s no doubt that he and John Wall will really go at each other. With the addition of PG13 to the mix, you can expect even more fireworks in this increasingly star-studded clash.

vs Charlotte Hornets; Friday 2/23 or Saturday 3/31 $60

If you look closely at this list, you’ll notice that most of the games here are on weeknights. That’s simply because you get much better prices during the week when it’s harder for STHs to get over to the arena after work. Weekday games are still great fun, but sometimes you want to catch the Wiz on a night where you have that extra beer or go out after the game without having to worry about getting up for work the next morning.

The two tilts against the Hornets are weekend games that offer a good compromise between price and basketball quality. It’s always fun to beat Michael Jordan’s team, Kemba is an All-Star in his own right, and now you can watch Dwight Howard ruin the locker chemistry of yet another squad. Go to the February game if you anticipate you’ll be dying for competitive sports in the weeks after football officially ends. If you want to attend a Saturday game so you can pre-game and get wild, pick the March date.

vs Toronto Raptors; Friday 3/2 $120

The Raptors get overlooked and taken for granted because they seemingly get swept out of a playoff round every year. However, they’re still a fun team to watch and  they routinely engage in entertaining regular season battles with the Wizards. Plus, this game could very easily turn out to be a preview of a first or second playoff series. Remind any Raptors fans sitting around you how we swept them out of the 2014 postseason, and make sure that all night you yell, “I was running through the Six with my Wiz!”

The Friday night slot gives this game a boost in the rankings (sadly, the weekend-night schedule is pretty weak this year – this is the best weekend-night game on the schedule after the New Year).

vs Minnesota Timberwolves; Tuesday 3/13 $90

Every year the general basketball-watching public is a little slower than more educated fans in grasping which way different teams  are trending. This sometimes results in lower demand and cheaper tickets to games that should be highly anticipated. The year the Warriors won their first title, tickets to Wiz-Warriors were near the mean price for all games that season. A year later they were more expensive than any other game. This year that rule applies to the Timberwolves.

The T-Wolves are far from one of the first teams that come to mind when brainstorming marquee Wizards opponents, but the squad has All-Pro level talent. Karl Anthony-Towns is quickly developing into one of the best big men in the game and the explosive Andrew Wiggins is as likely to put a defender on a poster as anyone else in the league. Add Jimmy Butler and some key role players to that combination, and you have a team capable of making some noise in the Western Conference playoffs.

vs Boston Celtics; Tuesday 4/10 $190

This game is huge for many reasons: the continuation of the Wiz-Celtics rivalry, the fight for playoff positioning, John and Kyrie making final statements for their All-Pro cases, a potential playoff preview, etc. The atmosphere for this one is going to be equivalent to a playoff game, so practice your postseason cheers and heckles and start figuring out how many playoff games you can afford to go to with the money you saved on season tickets.

Final Tally:  The final price tag is $1,070 for these ten great games. That’s more or less the season ticket holder rate, but with more flexibility and far less commitment. Looking at those numbers it’s hard to be too worried about not being able to afford membership to the DC12 Club.