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.

Takeaway For Wizards From NBA Blockbuster: Wiz-Celtics is the Rivalry of Now and the Future

Sports rivalries are awesome. Along with fantasy sports, there’s nothing better at squeezing maximum intrigue into every facet of following a sport. Every minor off-season transaction, every player Instagram/ Twitter post, every normally routine regular season game takes on infinitely more meaning when viewed in the context of the bitter and sometimes petty history between two teams and fan bases that don’t like each other. Rivalries make sports more fun.

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That’s why it has been such a shame that the Washington Wizards have not had a proper rival for most of the past three decades. They’ve had no team to benchmark themselves against, no fan base to mercilessly shit-talk on the Internet, no squad to throw chippy screens and unnecessarily hard fouls at, nobody to enjoy playing spoiler to, and nobody to dress up in all black for before a game in February. And that’s why it was so awesome last season when the vitriol between the Wizards and Celtics emerged seemingly out of nowhere and a true rivalry bloomed right before our eyes.

Last night, the two sides of another Eastern Conference rivalry came to terms on a blockbuster trade that swapped All-Star point guards, role players, and a lottery pick. I’ll leave it up to blogs of those teams to determine who won the trade or to give us an in-depth analysis of who would be favored in a potential playoff series between the two teams. I’m only interested in the trade for what it means for the Washington Wizards. And since the reshuffling doesn’t appear to make either team demonstrably better or worse for the upcoming season, my major takeaway is this: this trade confirms that the Boston Celtics are primed to be the Washington Wizards closest rival for this year and into the future

 

New Faces Same Hate

 

On the surface, it might seem hard to continue a rivalry when one teams gets rid of four of its five starters. It’s a fair point: the foundation of a rivalry is a history of animosity between two groups of players. Each team remembers all the previous hard fouls, skirmishes, subliminal post-game interview comments, and wins and losses, and those memories are what give extra meaning to all the subsequent hard fouls, skirmishes, subliminal post-game interview comments, and wins and losses.

It’s pretty obvious at this point that Danny Ainge’s entire off-season strategy has been centered on such a rivalry deconstruction. No doubt, he’s seen John Wall’s off-season workout videos and is terrified about facing a vengeful gang-sign John Wall now that he’ll be conditioned to ball out all the way through a seven game series. Once his secret weapon, Wiz-Killer Kelly “KO” Olynyk, left for Miami, Ainge clearly decided his best bet to avoid the wrath of Deathrow DC was to rid the roster of as many figures of the Wiz-Celtics rivalry as he could. He already moved Avery Bradley and now he’s trading away Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder in an attempt to disguise his team as different from the one that inspires so much ire from the WizKids. Heck, even signed a Markieff Morris lookalike to confuse the Wizards and throw them off his trail.

Unfortunately for Ainge, his thinly-veiled plan has been executed in vain. The reason this rivalry formula won’t hold for Wiz-Celtics is that John Wall is a man who holds grudges. Just like was the case with Atlanta, it won’t matter that most of the rival’s roster has turned over, he’ll still be bitter about getting eliminated from this year’s playoffs and he’ll be out for revenge. As Dennis Schroeder saw, it only takes one roster holdover with a horrible haircut to set John Wall off. Unless Ainge can unload Marcus Smart before the season or cut his hair, all of 2017-2018 is going to be Wolf Season with John Wall hunting for Celtic-green blood all year long.

 

Vying to Fill the Power Vacuum 

 

If there’s another reason that people will claim the Wizards vs. Celtics is done as an ongoing rivalry, its that Boston fans will claim this trade elevates their team to a level where feuding with Washington is beneath them and where their only valid rivals are from Cleveland. Of course, the Lebron-Kyrie, GOAT-little brother dynamic gives Cavs-Celtics an interesting Shakespearean aspect, but Lebron hasn’t had a rival in the Eastern Conference since the first time he ditched Cleveland. So until someone does beat him, which a Kyrie-led team could never do, the King isn’t going to have a rival in his conference any time soon unless he decides to go West. 

That means that the highest-stake competition that can exist in the East for the time being is that for the title of Number 1 contender, a crown the Celtics and Wizards are favorites to vie for. To become the top-dog you have to win the right to play for it, and with a bunch of young stars vying to establish their own legacies, you can bet it’s going to be a testy battle. The kind of legacy-building that’s up from grabs is sure to produce the animosity, 

 

WallStar vs. Uncle Drew

 

In less educated basketball circles, Kyrie vs. John Wall is an actual debate that people have. Well now that Kyrie no longer has Lebron to rely on to carry him to the Finals (or the playoffs for that matter), we’ll actually get a chance to watch John put an end to that debate on court. Honestly, there are so many aspects of this individual rivalry that make it great: two number 1 draft picks, the fight for top PG in the East and the accompanying All-NBA/All-Star spots, Kentucky vs. Duke, John’s Team USA and sneaker endorsement snubs, Kyrie saying he wanted his own team like John, John saying he couldn’t imagine wanting out of a team that went to the Finals 3 straight years. You couldn’t ask for a juicier 1-on-1 matchup.

Depending on who you ask, it’s probably a toss up for which of these stars is currently more highly regarded among basketball fans. John plays defense, Kyrie can shoot better. Kyrie has a ring, John has led a team on his own. With Kyrie out of Lebron’s shadow and finally expected to produce wins on his own, the next five seasons will settle this debate once and for all. In all likelihood, the final verdict will come down to head-to-head matchups in the playoffs between the Wizards and the Celtics.

 

So there you have it. In terms of its impact on the Eastern Conference over the next half decade, this trade wasn’t so much about Cavs-Celtics as it was about Wiz-Celtics. These two teams were already primed to jockey over the status of conference leader over the next few seasons, and this trade only intensifies that battle. 

If you think the real ECF rivalry is Cavs-Celtics, you’re wrong. If you think John Wall vs. Kyrie for best guard in the conference isn’t going to be epic, you’re wrong. If you’re here to read why the Cavs got the better end of this deal, you made you’re way to the wrong blog. The Wizards-Celtics rivalry is here to stay, and I for one can’t wait to kick some Boston Lucky Charms ass!

John Wall Press Conference/Get John Wall His Goddamn Billboard

Earlier today, the Washington Wizards held a press conference to formally announce the signing of All-NBA guard and franchise cornerstone John Wall to a supermax extension that locks him in as the foundational piece of DC professional basketball through at least the 2021-2022 season. With no disrespect to running mate Otto Porter, the Wall news was the marquee free-agency headline and the one that re-energized Wizards fans’ title aspirations in an otherwise uneventful and borderline disappointing summer.

 

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It can’t be understated how monumental (no pun intended) signing the WallStar to that extension was for this team.  We’ve seen a franchise cupcake use free agency to join the biggest bandwagon in sports (KD), another perennial star traded for nickels on the dollar before the get the chance to leave (PG13), and on the very same day that the Wall news broke, a more-hyped but less-talented point demand an exit from the situation that gift-wrapped him a ring and three straight trips to the Finals (the flat-earther from Duke).

 

A similar exit by John Wall would’ve had far more devastating effects on the franchise that drafted him. When you have a shallow roster and a GM who’s best move was lucking into the #1 pick after a season of unintentional tanking, it’s a safe bet your team is going to be pretty miserable for years to come if you lose that #1 guy. That’s why Wizards twitter was getting anxious when John didn’t sign the extension right away and we were forced to endure a litany of hypothetical trade proposals and Wall2LA conspiracy theories from obnoxious Celtics fans. Personally, the thought of this team without it’s WallStar was enough to send me into a miniature existential identity-crisis that forced me to fathom a future where I no longer pledged allegiance to the #DCFamily.  Fortunately for me and all the Wizards faithful, John quelled all the doubts and proved his commitment to the city by signing on to lead this team for the foreseeable future.

 

In his press conference today, John said a bunch of things that he’s said before, but that we were still more than happy to hear him affirm: “This is the team I want to be with for the rest of my career and I won’t stop until we get to hang a banner in the rafters.” With John in the fold for the long-term, and Eastern Conference rivals on the decline, us Wizards fans are for the first time feeling confident enough to consider that a championship in the nation’s capital could be a realistic possibility. Considering where this team was before the franchise savior arrived, the $170M Ted Leonsis will be paying over the life of the extension to retain his point god might be a steal.

 

This week, another Wizards blog wrote a piece chronicling the Wizards journey over the last ten years. It was a good piece, but it could have been summed up quicker. The Wizards sucked, they lucked into John Wall, John got better every year while making his teammates better each year, Wall helped establish the Wizards as a contender, John Wall kept Wizards championship hopes alive into the future by signing his supermax extension.

 

I know I’m coming off as a John Wall fanboy, but at this point it’s impossible to be a Wizards fan and not be. That isn’t a bad thing; there are much worse people to rep than a guy that shows loyalty, gives back to his community, and puts the city on his back. Today’s press conference was a celebration of that: a four year extension of the privilege to don jerseys with the number 2 stitched on the back, to hashtag tweets with #WallStar and #WallWay, to chant “MVP” at the Verizon/Capitol One Center, to enjoy and be proud of D.C. basketball.

 

Today, John Wall solidified his commitment to bring another Larry O’brien trophy to D.C. The only question that still remains as pertains to John Wall’s legacy in the district is where is his goddamn billboard? 

 

Back in early 2016, John was feeling under appreciated and marveled at the lack of exposure he was getting. “I was everywhere (in Kentucky),” Wall said. “I ain’t got no billboards in D.C.” Well, Ted Leonsis, can you please give this man the billboard he wants? 

 

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The temporary mural he shared with during the playoffs with backcourt mate Bradley Beal was nice, but I think we can all agree he needs something a bit more permanent. How much can a billboard possibly cost? Doesn’t the Verizon Center have space on an external wall that can be spared to honor the player that dominates inside the building? Shouldn’t the Verizon center just be named the John Wall center and turned into one giant billboard? Shit, John Wall needs five billboards, one for each All-Star appearance. Plaster his face on the Washington Monument, and then update the alternative logo to match. Come on Ted, get the man his billboard.

 

John Wall gives the team the cache to get media attention and nationally televised games.  He produced the most memorably triumphant playoff moment in the last 40 years of the franchise. He already has the franchise record for assists and steals, and by the time his extension expires he’ll probably also be the leader in points, and regular season games played. The man could retire today and go down as the best player in team history. 

 

Now, somebody get this man his goddamn billboard already.

 

Are Wizards Season Tickets a Good Deal? Here’s a Detailed Analysis

If you go to a few Washington Wizards games at the Verizon Center, you might discover that there is a peculiar breed of fan. These fans seemingly attend every single game, even the mid-week contests against Eastern Conference bottom feeder. These fans appear to have some obsessive compulsion that mandates that they always sit in the exact same seats at every game. It seems that each and every one of these fans owns the same red Wizards sport jacket, and you might hear them refer to a mysterious society called the “DC 12 Club”. Though all the evidence points to these fans being members of some satanic basketball cult, the truth is that these fans are in fact Washington Wizards season ticket holders.

For most sports fans from the DC area, the idea of a season-ticket holder is probably at best a very abstract concept. It’s hard enough to get folks to attend one Wizards game, so the prospect of willingly signing on to pay for admission to 41 regular season NBA games plus an additional 3 pre-season exhibition games is beyond inconceivable. Even for big Wizards fans, this is a tough sell. Having been a season-ticket holder for two years before opting out after the catastrophe that was last season, I can attest to the fact being a season ticket holder yields no value in and of itself. Individual game tickets, purchased from Ted’s Monumental Sports or elsewhere, get you into the arena just as well as season tickets, and they even grant you access to the very same game. The only rational reason for not buying Wizards tickets on a strictly game-by-game basis is that you expect to receive a quantity discount.

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And yet, Ted Leonsis will soon announce the prices for next year’s Wizards season tickets. For incumbent STH’s, the news compels them to decide whether or not to re-up for another year. For the less-invested fans like myself, this is an invitation to join the likes of the DC 12 Club members.

Is there any sensible reason that somebody would purchase Wizards season tickets? How much money can you actually save? Are there circumstances where it makes sense to make this investment? Is it possible to actually make money of this deal? Let’s take a look:

 

How Much Can I Save With Season Ticket versus buying Individual Game Tickets?

For two years, I had season tickets in Section 117 Row S. These tickets were in the sections behind the basket, which from my experience gave you the best value for your dollar. I was a single grad school student, so I had plenty of time to attend games and no one to answer to about my how I spent my money. Still, like even the most ardent fan, I didn’t have the time nor the finances to attend every home game. So I attended about a third of the games and sold the rest of the tickets on the secondary market, trying to strike a balance between attending good games and recuperating a decent amount of my costs. Being a business student, I of course tracked what I paid versus what I made back, to gauge if the season ticket deal made sense for me going forward.

This current season, after a second consecutive year of price increases for my seats, is my first one back to buying tickets one game at a time. Still, I’ve been tracking what the prices are in my old section for each game on the secondary markets (I buy on NBA Ticket Exchange), versus what I would have paid for a year’s worth of tickets. Those numbers are in the spreadsheet below.

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What you might be surprised to see by looking at the above table, is that in reality, there is a quantity surcharge instead of a quantity discount that came with buying Wizards season tickets this past season. Simply put, Ted Leonsis priced his tickets above market value. You could have bought two tickets for every game individually and saved $175 as compared to signing a deal for season tickets. That’s without even taking into consideration the fact that in all likelihood you’d have zero interest in going to many of these games, chiefly three worthless preseason games.

Regardless of what combination of games you wanted to attend, it was always cheaper to buy those tickets individually. STH overpaid for the majority of this year’s games. To put this into perspective, here is a lineup of Wizards games you could have gone to for $1,250, less than a third of the STH price: Raptors, Hawks, Rockets, Cavaliers, Suns, Spurs, Magic, Nuggets, Bucks, Hornets, Timberwolves, 76ers, Trailblazers, Grizzlies, Celtics, Pelicans, and Thunder. Even if you threw in the outrageously overpriced Warriors game, you’d still have paid only 40% of the STH price.

Luckily for fans locked into this deal, the game against the Golden State Warriors and two versus the Cleveland Cavaliers helped make the returns more favorable. Tickets for just those three games on the secondary market went for $1,100, a full $800 more than STH paid for them. On the flipside, it’s hard to be okay paying one-hundred dollars for a Monday night tilt against the Sacramento Kings in November when the guy sitting next to you paid only twenty-eight bucks.

 

How Will Likely Price Increases Figure Into the Equation?

Seeing how Ted Leonsis raised Wizards season ticket prices even in the midst of last year’s miserable season, it’s a near certainty that he’ll continue to up the prices now that the team is experiencing success once again. For season ticket holders that’s obviously bad news.  Now, it might make logical sense that a better team should translate to higher ticket prices, at both the individual game and full-season level. However, the truth is that the relationship between on court success and fan support for basketball in DC is not so perfectly linear.

The Verizon Center has lousy attendance, and we’ve seen in the past that not even a deep playoff run is going to do much to change that. If the median market for individual game tickets does see a bump, it will probably be offset by lower prices at the highest end of the spectrum. Resale prices this year for the Warriors game are astronomical, due to the intrigue of seeing Kevin Durant in his first return to DC since joining the Bandwagon team of the moment (who btw we should boo mercilessly). But those tickets priced should come back closer to Earth next year when that novelty wears off a little bit.

All in all, any raise in the price of season tickets are probably going to mean a worse deal for season ticket holders. Every extra dollar you pay for season tickets is probably just one more dollar that you’re overpaying.

 

What About Buying Season Tickets and Selling Them?

Based on regular season games, you should not try to do this. You’ll be able to accomplish this, you just won’t make any money.

The figures in the chart above are what buyers pay for tickets on the secondary market. The amount that sellers make is typically, at best, twenty percent lower once the selling platform takes out their fees or commissions. So that $4,075 figure that I could have paid for individual tickets would translate closer to $3,200 for the people who sold those ticket. You don’t a business degree to know that that is not a good return on investment.

 

How Do Playoff Tickets Play Into the Picture?

Considering the numbers in the chart above, it probably seems like a no-brainer that Wizards season tickets are an all-around terrible idea for fans, right? Well no, not exactly. There is one season ticket holder perk, really the only one that has any value at all, that can potentially alter the balance of this equation: guaranteed tickets to this year’s home playoff games. Those fans that commit to the full slate of next season’s tickets (sorry all you current STH’s, you get nothing) receive the privilege of buying tickets to all of this year’s postseason games at a low, fixed price. For the lower level sections behind the basket, that fixed price has historically been somewhere between $45 and $65 per ticket depending on the round, which is considerably less than what these playoff ticket will go for on Stubhub, NBA Ticket Exchange, etc. when the Wizards hype starts really rolling.

Since we’ve been defining the value of season tickets by the difference between what season ticket holders pay and what one pays on the secondary market, these cheap playoff tickets make a season ticket package more attractive. Depending on who the Wizards match up with in the playoffs, how many home games they get in each round, and how deep they ultimately go, it is possible that this playoff ticket perk will yield enough value to actually make season tickets worthwhile. If nothing else, this perk offers enough to make you take a second look. Here are some estimates for how much playoff tickets in my old Section 117 could be worth versus what they’ll cost DC 12 Club members:

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What is the Final Verdict?

So what’s the final verdict on whether or not Wizards season tickets for next season will ultimately be worth the investment? Well, like most things in life it depends. In this case it depends on how far you think the team is going to make it in the playoffs. If you think the team is doomed for a first-round disappointment, then you can easily rule against season-tickets (then again, if you think this is how our season ends then you’re obviously not a real fan, so why would you even want season tickets?). If you think the Wizards will repeat recent postseason history by winning the first-round and then fizzling out in the second, then you probably still want to stay away from season tickets. That result will bring you some value as compared to buying individual tickets, but certainly not enough to warrant having to start making payments now for tickets to games months down the line.

However, if you are bullish on the team and foresee them charging into the Eastern Conference Finals to challenge the reigning champ, then this season ticket package is almost too good of a deal to pass up. A series against Lebron and Kyrie, one of the greatest to ever do it and one of the most overrated to ever do it, will be the biggest sporting event of the moment, not to mention possibly the biggest ever in DC. Watching those games would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and getting those tickets for cheap will save you a pretty penny if you go to the game, or make you one if you opt to sell. The numbers show that Wizards season tickets derive their value from the chance to buy playoff tickets for cheap. Therefore, this purchase decision is one that needs to be made on a year-by-year basis, depending on the team’s postseason prospects. If you paid for membership for the DC 12 Club last season when there were no playoff games to attend, you got hustled big time. But if you’re thinking about buying them for the upcoming season, it could actually be a good deal.

In the end, the question isn’t necessarily are Wizards season tickets are good deal, but instead how far do I think this team will go this season and am I willing to bet on that? For my part, being a diehard Wizkids fan and eternal optimist, I’m already trying to figure out how I can explain to my wife why we need to spend thousands of dollars on basketball tickets.