The Wizards Fired Ernie and Brought Hope Back to the Fanbase

The Wizards Fired Ernie and Brought Hope Back to the Fanbase

I have two kids, both boys, born twelve months apart and both born during Washington Wizards playoffs series.

The birth of my firstborn, Lorenzo, coincided with the start of the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics – his mother went into labor shortly before tipoff of Game 1, and the game was playing in the background during the first hours of a long delivery. When Luca joined our family a year later in April 2018, the Wizards were in the midst of a first-round series with the Toronto Raptors.

In both cases, I hoped the introduction to the world of a new WizKid would bring with it a wave of fortune for the hometown basketball team. I fantasized of pointing to my boys as good luck charms, of sharing pictures of them in Wizards newborn onesies, and, above all, of them being welcomed into this life with a winning team to root for. In both cases, my dreams would not be realized, doomed in large part by the glaring deficiencies in how our long-time General Manager assembled the team roster.

I remember sitting in a Labor and Delivery room, trying to mute my yells of frustration so as to not to wake my resting wife and newborn son, as I watched a 5’8” guard carve our team up for 53 points because we didn’t have a competent rim protector. Then, a few days later in one of our son’s first nights at home, I looked on with equal anguish as the playoff campaign came to an end with our star backcourt succumbing to the exhaustion of a long season without serviceable backups. The next year from a hospital couch, I’d watch the season end in similarly depressing fashion, derailed this time by the GM’s inability to field a team that could seed high enough to avoid a matchup against the conference’s top team.

These were not the basketball memories that I wanted to associate with my first days of fatherhood.

Teaching my boys the peculiar ritual of rooting for the Wizards was supposed to be fun; using them as excuses to attend games, instructing them to admire – but not play with – my bobblehead collection, regaling them with tales of Agent Zero and Pierre McGee. Instead, Wizards basketball was becoming less and less of a fixture of our household, trending quickly downward in alignment with the team’s own continuous regression.

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I thought to myself that perhaps there was no other way to be initiated as a Wizards fan than to be immersed in disappointment from the outset – such a start would certainly set expectations appropriately. I laughed (cried) that nothing could so perfectly capture the #SoWizards curse for me than seeing the heirs to my rabid fandom doomed to ultimately grow up rooting for another basketball team.

Then again, if the next forty years of professional basketball in the nation’s capital turned out anything like the previous forty, did I even want to saddle my offspring with the burden of believing that DC was rising? Maybe it was better to let them live happy, unfettered lives as Capitals or Manchester City fans. This is what the miserable, soul-crushing past two seasons of NBA basketball had brought me to: a dejection and hopelessness for the future that was so strong that I might’ve considered letting my bloodline of Wizards devotion die with me.

Then, on April 2, 2019, a date which will live in reverence, the heavens opened up, the earth stopped spinning, and Ernie Grunfeld was fired as President of Basketball Operation to restore the hope of Wizards fans everywhere.

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It’s hard to explain how out-of-nowhere the Grunfeld firing came. Ernie was so secure in his institutionalized position of engineering incompetence, that fans were almost forced to accept the he’d be trading draft picks to get rid of bad contracts into perpetuity. As much as everybody related to the sentiment behind a good “Fire Ernie” chant, it eventually wasn’t worth wasting your breath.

It’s also hard to explain just how universal the jubilant reaction to Ernie’s dismissal was. As soon as the news broke, I received congratulatory messages and texts with prayer hands emojis from all corners – DC, Maryland, Virginia, California, Brazil, friends, enemies, people I hadn’t talked to in years – all ecstatic that even though no roster changes had occurred, at least the pervading shadow of the General Mismanager was gone!

What’s not hard to explain is why everyone was so happy. Ernie Grunfeld had a proven track record as one of the very worst GMs in the league. For reasons unknown, he also had a record as one of the longest tenured GMs in the league. Much can be and has been written about Grunfeld numerous blunders – there’s far too many to count – but you don’t need more than three examples to demonstrate just how far astray he led this franchise in the course of his 16 years:

  1. Grunfeld traded the #5 pick in the 2009 draft for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Steph Curry was selected at #7 and went on to win two MVPs, six-plus All NBA nods, and at least three championships. The Wizards went on to win 26 games in the 2009-10 season and neither Miller nor Foye would be on the team the next year.
  2. In the 2011 draft, critical for building a solid foundation around new franchise cornerstone John Wall, Grunfeld selected Jan Vesely with the #6 pick, leaving Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Vucevic and others on the board. Vesely flamed out of the NBA within three seasons, averaging a mere 3.6 points and 15 minutes per game. Those other names and more went on to be All Stars with long careers.
  3. Leading up to the free agency summer of 2016, Grunfeld let valuable assets like Trevor Ariza leave in order to engineer enough cap space for a run at Kevin Durant. Durant never agreed to even meet with the Wizards. Grunfeld instead used the cap space to give over $100M to Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, and Jason Smith.

It’s abundantly clear, then, that the removal of Ernie Grunfeld is addition by subtraction, or even multiplication by subtraction. Bradley Beal knew as much at the beginning of the season, when he looked over at Ernie after a volatile practice and said about the ongoing fiascos that “it starts at the top.” Indeed, it does. And with Ernie at the helm, the Wizards were destined to never be anything more than the underachieving, laughingstock of the league that they’ve been for the majority of Grunfeld’s tenure.

Now that he’s gone, the possibility of another identity is once again viable. Of course, a quick turnaround is by no means the new expectation, and Grunfeld is certainly leaving a dumpster fire of a mess for the next executive to clean up. At the very least, however, we now have a prayer that our franchise will one day be a competitive one. With Ernie, the only thing we had worth aspiring to was free Chick-fil-A.

It’s really a testament to the power of sports that the Wizards have been able to maintain any semblance of a fan base at all. Irrationality is the essence of being a team fanatic, but even supporters of the most decrepit teams find a glimmer of promise to fuel their continued, if frequently frustrated, allegiance. Ernie Grunfeld’s existence pilfered that from this fanbase.

Why get excited for a high draft pick when the GM is going to waste it – that is if he doesn’t trade the pick first. Why bother trying to fool yourself into believing that this time the franchise will successfully develop a talented player to reach his potential? Why keep track of free agency and trade rumors when your team never lands big-time free agents or makes non-luxury tax-related trades?

Why watch at all?

This was the line of thinking that Ernie Grunfeld’s stewardship transmitted. Its ill effects were visible anywhere and everywhere you looked: in the constant reports of turmoil in the locker room, in the underhanded jabs from players and commentators around the league, in the half-empty stands at the Capital One Center, and in the local kids rocking Kyrie Irving jerseys instead of John Wall threads. As long as Ernie remained in charge, you were better off not investing your time and energy into the Wizards.

But now, the wicked witch is dead! Ernie Grunfeld is gone and we’re free at last! Free to hope in our team, free to watch basketball without fatalistic dread, and free to teach our sons to love the Washington Wizards.

 

How The Wizards Discovered Their Identity as the Most Unlikable Team in the NBA

How The Wizards Discovered Their Identity as the Most Unlikable Team in the NBA

Tracking the NBA off-season as a Wizards fan is a horrible way to waste the summer. While fans of rival teams get to debate whether they won the big trade and brag about their marquee signings, the high points of our summer are borderline satirical press conferences introducing players that haven’t moved the needle for three-plus years.

Considering the low benchmark set over summers past, most Wizards fans weren’t too surprised by this off-season’s underwhelming moves – we’ve come to grips with the fact that Ernie will only ever acquire a key piece if a no-brainer draft pick falls in his lap. What was curious, however, was that our personnel moves seemingly failed to add one thing that’s been glaringly missing from this squad: an identity.

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Every team with title aspirations plays with an understanding of what they do well and what their approach to winning will be. The Rockets fire up either a layup or a three in 7 seconds or less, the Celtics are stocked with lengthy wing defenders, and the Warriors start five All-NBA players. The Wizards, on the other hand, slogged through last season unsure of who they were and how they wanted to attack. Are they a bad good team or a good bad team? Great question. Are they three-point shooters? No. A fast-break team? Not really. Hard-nosed defenders? F*** no!

The Road to Self-Discovery

So, while on paper the team should improve by replacing Gortat with the center he used to come off the bench for, and substituting Jodie Meeks with literally anybody, it was disappointing that those additions didn’t readily clarify the team’s strategy going forward. What transformational skill-sets do Austin Rivers and Dwight Howard provide other than making fans feel icky about rooting for the players on their team? What new dimension was added aside from the looming possibility that these fiery personalities will combust an already-volatile locker room? The short and obvious answer is … nothing.

Aside from some new window dressing, the Wizards executives are running it back with more or less the same team that underperformed all last year – at least at first glance. When you take a step back, however, you’ll see that these personnel decisions add up to more than a simple cosmetic cover-up. Instead, they fit a well-established pattern, one that has become so entrenched in how this organization does business that it’s time to admit it’s become a core element of how this franchise operates. The Wizards didn’t find their next great superstar this summer, but they did discover their one true identity: the most unlikable team in the NBA.

Soul Searching – How Did We Get This Way?

Culture is established at the upper echelons of an organization, from where it filters down through the ranks. Where the head goes, the body follows. Near the top of the Wizards organization is Ernie Grunfeld, the most irredeemable and unapologetically incompetent figure in Washington sports. The only man above him on the executive ladder is Ted Leonsis, whose NBA resume includes entire sections dedicated to trolling bloggers, endlessly raising ticket prices, and refusing to fire Ernie Grunfeld. Together, this tandem has frustrated their fans for years. If you were required to describe the pair in a single word, you’d be hard pressed to find a better adjective than “unlikeable.” Is it any surprise, then, that after a decade-plus under Ted and Ernie’s stewardship, that this franchise has been exactly that?

The evidence suggests that if the players have established a collective reputation as being loathsome, it’s because they’re taking cues from their leaders. The owner and GM trumpet their own mediocrity, the team does the same. The owner and GM rebuff accountability, the players do the same. The owner and GM lose focus over the course of the season, – you get it by now. And now, with the addition of a couple fan least-favorites, the team is doubling down on being the NBA grouches.

If the Roster Fits.. 

Perhaps it’s a bit harsh to our players to label them as the most undesirable collection of talent in the league. It’s pretty incredible though, once you start to think about the team in this context, how well this roster lends itself to such a scheme. Suddenly, everybody’s role makes sense in a way that it never quite has before. Don’t believe it? Take a look for yourself:

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John Wall – John is the preeminent disgruntled All-Star. Who else grumbles as much about what other guys are getting paid, or the fact that he doesn’t get billboards, or that his 2K rating doesn’t meet his expectations? This mean-mugging, gang-sign throwing, spoon-feeding Point God is the anti-Kyrie; the star that hasn’t received his due and isn’t afraid to let everyone know it.

Bradley Beal – With the divisive Wall taking so much flack by himself, you’d think Beal would be universally revered. Instead, he’s taken his fair share of heat for bold comments, poor leadership, and selfish late game play. Then, with John out, he showed he could take the lead on starting drama by starting the “Everybody eats” controversy.

Markieff Morris – Kief, already one of the most T-ed up players in the league, says he needs to add even more “bully ball” to his game. What more needs to be said here?

Otto Porter – Otto is somehow simultaneously the quietest person on team and the most unliked by the team’s stars. With his huge contract, he also creates more disagreement among fans than anyone else on the squad.

Dwight Howard – Dwight is, without doubt, the most hated player in the NBA. Playing on his sixth team in eight years, is there anyone in the league – players, coaches, media, refs – with something good to say about this locker room cancer? Not to mention, Dwight led the league in technical fouls by a wide margin. This addition is the one that pushes the Wizards to the extreme on the unlikability scale.

Austin Rivers – First Rivers incited the entire Houston Rockets to hunt him down in the underbelly of the Staples Center. Then, his own father gave up on him and shipped him out of town. Ouch, this guy must suck to be around.

Kelly Oubre Jr. – Kelly went up against the notoriously dirty Kelly Olynyk in the 2017 playoffs and somehow managed to come out as the less-likable Kelly O.

Tomas Santoransky – It was hard to find much to fault Tomas for last season. He made key contributions and always had a great attitude. In fact, he might’ve been the most likable guy on the team. Maybe that explains why he dropped out of the rotation come playoff time.

Ian Mahinmi – Mahinmi actually seems like a really nice guy – he’s always flashing his big smile, he gives back to the community, he dresses well. Regardless of all this, he’ll always be hated by Wizards fans for suckering Ernie into giving him the worst contract in Wizards history.

Jason Smith – Jason is constantly heralded as one of the best teammates in the NBA. Obviously, he therefore never plays.

Be Who You Are and Be It Well

Having established that Wizards are ready to be the most unlikable team in the NBA, is this transformation something we as fans should actually be rooting for? If the alternative is to continue slogging on as a faceless and toothless underachiever, then yes, absolutely.

The Wizards had a maddeningly uneven year last season – overperforming when they should’ve been overmatched, but then dropping countless games to inferior opponents. A big portion of that inconsistency can be attributed to the team’s identity crisis. The squad’s approach and source of motivation changed from game to game and consequently their intensity level and production fluctuated as well. A commitment to being unlikable may not be the tactic that yields the most feel-good storylines or aesthetically-pleasing basketball, but at least it is a defined tactic.

The Wizards’ record should be markedly better this year simply by virtue of eliminating the emotional instability and role confusion that sprouted from a lack of self-awareness and led to many of last season’s worst losses. From there, it’s not too hard to envision how this newfound identity will translate to a team mentality and style of play that generates more wins:

  1. The Wizards won’t be the most prolific offensive team nor the stingiest defensive one, but they will surely be one of the most physical teams. We’ll see a lot of hard fouls, a good deal of technical fouls, and a fair number of scuffles as this team looks to get in peoples’ faces and under their skin. While that strategy may make for some ugly basketball, it will also keep our team engaged and focused – a consistent problem in years past – for four quarters a game and 82 games a season.
  2. The Wizards are going to talk a lot of trash (per usual) and will hopefully finally back it up for the first time (this would be new).
  3. Like last year, they’re going to be gunning for all the teams anointed as better (i.e. Celtics, Sixers, Warriors) than them and will show up to those high-profile games ready to play.
  4. Unlike last year, they’ll have extra motivation to fuel them to play angry against typical trap opponents (Hawks, Hornets, Suns). Almost a quarter of the schedule will be revenge games for Dwight against his former teams.

In all likelihood, there was nothing strategic or deliberate about the front office assembling the repugnant cast of characters into a team. Still, they appear to recognize what they’ve stumbled upon and are excited about how it will play out for the upcoming season.

On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether the fan base will get behind this new-attitude team. There’s a very real chance that this experiment goes south quickly. That being said, if the Wizards fully embody this identity of being the most unlikable team in the league, they’ll surely give the fans something to like.

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.

 

How Can We Build Up the Wizards Fan Base?

As a huge Wizards fan, I was quite discouraged to hear that one of the reasons Kevin Durant never considered DC as a viable free agency destination was that he felt the team lacked fan support.  Of course, there is a very obvious person to blame for the team’s failures in the free agency market.  Still, KD’s reported sentiments strike an insecurity that all true Wizards fans have: that our fanbase is pretty weak.  The Verizon Center is routinely half-empty, our franchise player is chronically underappreciated, and the fans themselves are often regrettably apathetic.  It seems you can’t go to a game and cheer for the Wizards without having to yell over a contingency of fans from the road team.  Nights like Kobe’s final game in DC highlight this unfortunate reality, and the home record speaks to the lack of any realized home-court advantage.

As tempting as it may be, nothing will get solved by wallowing in self-pity or hunting for a culprit to blame.  Instead, we should be productive and proactive in rebuilding the culture around being a Wizards fan.  We have to take it upon ourselves to foster the growth of this fanbase into one that free agents want to play for and opponents are scared to play against.  In that spirit, here are some strategies that Ted Leonsis and the core group of passionate Wizards fans can employ to build a stronger fanbase:

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Appropriate Season Ticket Prices: Okay, so this one is squarely on Ted.  Perhaps the most important variable in determining how many Wizards fans fill the arena is the price of season tickets.  And recently, season tickets prices have risen to levels that are clearly above market value.  After my first season as a ticket holder, I saw that the price increases following the 2015 season resulted in many of my fellow Section-117 plan holders opting not to renew.  After the most recent price hikes, even I couldn’t justify buying a season’s worth of tickets from Monumental when I could get individual game tickets on secondary markets for a fraction of cost.  Based on how many times Monumental extended my renewal deadline, I have a hunch that there will be a more dramatic drop in season ticket holders this upcoming season. Obviously, this attrition means that many of the most tenured and ardent fans are going to be replaced with more empty seats, or worse, bandwagoners in Cavs or Warriors jerseys.

Of course, Ted is running a business and he has to make money.  The marginal success the team has experienced over the past few years and the growing popularity of the league overall certainly justify some increase in ticket prices.   But prices above market value are hard to justify, especially when they come at the cost of lower attendance by the team’s most enthusiastic fans.  Ted, who has a vested interest in maintaining a base of loyal, repeat customers, should meet season ticket holders halfway.  Fair prices will allow more devoted Wizards fans to come more games, creating a better atmosphere in the stadium.  This will help develop a home-court advantage that results in a better team, which will drive fan interest, which will ultimately yield more demand for Wizards tickets.  In the end everyone benefits: Leonsis, the players, and the fans.  But it all starts with Ted setting the season ticket prices back at an appropriate level.

Special Cheering Group/Sections:  One of my biggest gripes against Wizards fans is that as a group we’re very subdued.  John Wall infamously commented that the fans seem to get more excited about free chicken sandwiches than they do about a win.  And if you are somebody who likes to cheer loudly and heckle the opposing team (me), quite often you’ll find yourself the recipient of reproaching glances from your neighbors.  We need to redefine the code of etiquette for attending a Wizards basketball game.  To do that, I propose starting a Designated Cheering Section.

This idea is not all unique; it comes from supporters of the University of Maryland Men’s Soccer team who started a fan club called The Crew.  The club started in 2003 with a small group of students who would sit behind the goal, loudly heckling the opposing goalie and raucously cheering on the home team.  The group quickly grew in size and sophistication, coordinating outfits and organizing chants.  The result has been a spike in interest in the team and a long standing reputation for one of the best home field advantages in college soccer.

We should bring this idea to the Verizon Center in the form of a few sections, preferably behind the basket, where fans are encouraged to cheer, yell, and heckle opposing players.  Obviously, fans are encouraged to do this all throughout the arena, but these sections would be reserved for the loudest, rowdiest, and most energetic fans.  Putting all these fans in the same section will allow them to feed off of each other’s energy, and also to coordinate chants and jeers.  These sections of boisterous fans will lead the rest of the arena in rooting for the team while teaching casual fans the proper way to cheer.

The Cheering Section would start small, but it will grow quickly as other fans see how much fun it is.  Passion is a contagious thing.  And once fans have yelled and screamed their support for the WizKids, they’ll probably find themselves more invested in the success of the team.  As the group of cheerleaders grows, signature chants, norms, and traditions are sure to develop and embed themselves in the culture of the team. Hopefully the end result is a more lively and intimidating home crowd and a few more Wizards wins at the Verizon Center.

Own the Wizard: I, like many of my fellow fans, think that “Wizards” is pretty silly moniker for a collection of world class athletes.  But I figure that if we’re not going to change the name back to the Bullets, then we might as well take ownership of the name that we do have.  That’s why my friend and I went to last season’s home opener on Halloween dressed as Wizards.  As in actual wizards; with hats and beards and a staff that got confiscated by security.  It was incredibly silly, but it was one of the best times I’ve had at a game.  I think the team should encourage more things like that.  We have a weird mascot, so let’s have fun with it.

For starts, every year the game that falls on or closest to Halloween has to be costume night, where everyone comes dressed up as their favorite Wizards.  This past year I was Gandalf, but let’s fill the stands with some Harry Potters and Hermione Grangers and Merlins, etc.  Bonus points for wearing a jersey over your costume.  Next, we should build out G-Wiz’s backstory.  He must be some sort of wizard, but what kind of powers does he have, what kind of quests has he been on, what the hell species is he?  Someone needs to answer these questions.  And one more suggestion: Since the NBA is making new alternate jerseys each year, can we get something wizard inspired?  Like maybe the team can warm up in hooded cloaks for a couple games.

Bandwagon Shaming: Among the worse symptoms of the Wizard’s underachievement this past decade is that we have a lot of bandwagon fans in DC.   It’s easy enough to understand where they’re coming from: they haven’t had a home team to root for in the NBA playoffs so they pick another team to support.  Still, it’s pretty lame when they just pick the best team to root for, and even more shameful when they’re rooting for those teams against the home squad.  We need to call these fugazi’s out.  We need to remind everyone that the only fans that get respect are loyal fans.  We need to shame the bandwagon fans clogging up the Verizon Center.

The Wizards were one of the first teams to get into bandwagon shaming, with the Bandwagon Cam on the jumbotron a few years ago.  I say let’s take this a step farther.  Let’s rig the nightly seat upgrade promotion so that a Warriors groupie wins, but then let’s upgrade them to the last row in the 400 section.   Let’s raise the stake on the Bandwagon Cam and show losers in Cavs jerseys on the jumbotron with the nerdy Snapchat filter.  Let’s send G-Wiz out into the stands to prank clowns wearing LA Clippers gear.  Or we can give a kid in a KD jersey a chance to play someone 1-on-1 for a prize, but then have him faceoff against one of our D-League players.  This may sound like a harsh way to treat these confused fans, but the truth is that we’ll be doing it for their own good.

Bonus Thoughts:

-A Wizards branded sports bar near the Verizon Center that fans have a place to come for road games or before and after home games to kick it with other fans.  Maybe they can set it up so that every now and then players will roll through after the game to interact with fans.

-Let people send SnapChats to the team and pick a few of the best ones to display on the jumbotron or the CSN broadcast.

Bring back G-Man.

-Fire Ernie Grunfeld!