Wiz-Warriors: Let’s All Boo Cupcake Kevin Durant

This past weekend, Kevin Durant, the one-time NBA darling turned bitter front-running villain, returned to his old home court to a much-deserved, nasty homecoming.  His welcome-back presents were a chorus of boos and profanities from his old fans, and a bevy of hard fouls and harsh words from his old teammates.  The antagonistic reception was to be expected, regardless of Durant’s lengthy resume of past exploits for the team, after the biggest superstar in franchise history abandoned ship to join the one squad that had prevented the franchise from returning to the NBA Finals.

Kevin Durant and his supporters will maintain that KD’s only obligations in his free-agency decision were to himself and to his family, and that he had the right to go wherever he pleased.  This is certainly true and it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could argue this point. It’s also true, however, that those betrayed OKC players and supporters are similarly only obliged to support members of their own franchise, and they maintain a right to react to KD’s abandonment however they please. Considering the self-serving decision that Kevin Durant made, one that bucked every tenet of the spirit of competition, as well as the circumstances in which he made that cowardly choice, it would be surprising if KD is ever able to return to Chesapeake Energy Arena without getting heckled and chastised.  If that was my team, and sixty years down the line Kevin Durant came back to town for a Throwback Thursday night, I’d be sitting front row donning a cupcake t-shirt, with a “F*** KD!” sign taped to my walker.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Washington Wizards

Fortunately for me, I’m not an Oklahoma City Thunder fan. Nope, I’m a Washington Wizards fan and I’m rooting for John and Brad and Jason Smith right now as write this while watching the two teams match up tonight. (BTW who would have thought when OKC was 1 game away from returning to the Finals and the Wizards had been out of contention since early April, that just 9 months later it would the WizKids who had the brighter future??)  But even though I wasn’t personally betrayed by Durant teaming up with the basketball equivalent of the Galactic Republic, I was completely repulsed by the choice all the same.

Two weeks from tomorrow, Kevin Durant is scheduled to visit another one of the towns he previously called “Home” for his first time as a Warrior – in what is currently 2nd to only Kobe’s last game in DC for the most ridiculously over-priced basketball ticket in Verizon Center history (It is beyond me how anyone can justify paying $200 for the worst Lower Level seats when the same seats consistently go for under $20 at other games!!) With the exception of the boos he induced last year with his comments deriding the #KD2DC fervor, Kevin has generally enjoyed a warm reception when he’s  returned to his native DMV to play professional basketball games. But just as KD is no longer welcome anywhere in the state of Oklahoma, the image of the Bay Bridge on the front of his jersey should also preclude KD from being treated as anything less than an enemy at the Phone Booth. Durant has been beloved as the basketball pride of the region, and therefore it’s easy to imagine that arguing to heckle the man could be considered a hot take. But here are some quick thoughts on why it should instead be considered an obligation for any true Wizards fan.

Shame the Bandwagoners

As anybody who’s been to a Wizards game knows, the city is full of fans from other NBA teams. No matter what game you go to, from a tilt versus the Memphis Grizzlies to one against the Portland Trailblazers, there will always inevitably be a sizable contingent of fans in the Verizon Center rooting for the road team. Being that DC is a mixing pot of folks from all over the country who move to the city to work in government or politics, the presence of away fans is a fact of life.

When this becomes a problem is when sports fans born and raised in the District jump on the bandwagon of the day rather than root for the hometown team. Over the past decade, the Wizards have seen its fan base dwarfed by the likes of the Lakers, then the Cavs, then the Heat, then the Thunder, then the Cavs again, and now the Warriors. (Why do you think these tickets are so damn expensive?) The band wagon obsession is more than a problem that has afflicted our city; it’s a virus. Bandwagon n***as marry bandwagon b*****s and have bandwagon kids. Now, Kevin Durant, who is supposed to be our hometown hero, and whose presence on the Thunder made it the one team outside of the DMV acceptable for DMV residents to root for, is following the same trend as all the pathetic flakes who buy themselves and their kids jerseys that say Curry and Thompson on the back rather than Wall and Beal. Us Wizards fans don’t accept this behavior from our fellow basketball fans, so why should we accept it from the biggest basketball figure to come out of this area? What’s worse, it’s all too obvious that bandwagon fans from DC will conveniently site their support for KD as the reason they suddenly support the most talented team in NBA history. The same way that we use the jumbotron to tease those DC fans with too little inner fortitude to rock with the home squad, we need to mock the NBA player too scared to fight for a championship with anyone but the most stacked team ever.

Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City?

While DC has always showered Kevin Durant with much love and respect, he’s never exactly returned the favor. And now, his latest decision shows how little concern he truly has for this town and its fans.  As Wizards fans, we can’t begrudge Durant for not coming home to play for the Wizards. Having lived here, he must know all too well how quickly promising dreams turn to dashed hopes within this city’s sports scene. It happens every year and in every sport. That’s precisely the reason why every self-respecting Wizards fan is enjoying every moment of the team’s recent success, but not yet visualizing even a game past the first-round of the playoffs. Still, couldn’t KD give just a little bit of acknowledgement of our support for him? You mean to tell me that he couldn’t even take the time to take a meeting with the Wizards, even if it was just to politely say no thanks? If for nothing else, than to validate that all the time we spent tagging our tweets with #KD2DC was not totally in vain?

Nope. Durant had no time to entertain the dreams of his hometown fans. In fact, the only comments we ever got about his view on playing for the Wizards was a rebuke of the fans around here.  Not only that, as an extra insult to Washington fans, Kevin opted instead to hear the pitch from the Boston Celtics, the recently buried, new DC rivals.   Seriously, KD!? That’s how you feel? You’d wear that ugly green jersey, sell your soul to Tom Brady, and go play for those Massholes before you’d play for the city that raised you? Damn, bro.

Partially, this is our fault for always being a little too eager to reunite with Durant; for being a little too available. Just like juvenile boys like Durant have been doing to naïve girls since the beginning of time, KD teased our interest, soaked up our affection, and then ultimately left for the sexier suitor, leaving us heart-broken with nothing to show for all the time we spent trying to make this relationship happen. If Kevin isn’t going to realize what he had with our support until it’s gone, then let’s show him how far gone it really is: with boo-birds every time he touches the ball.

Not My Precedent

The final reason that fans of the Washington Wizards have a duty to deride the Hell out of Kevin Durant when he visits in two weeks is a self-serving one. The example that KD is setting for NBA players, one of taking pay cuts to leave the teams that drafted them in favor of diminished roles and pressure on super teams, is a dangerous one for second-tier franchises like our own.

The Wizards have a former lottery pick up for a new contract this summer in Otto Porter. A few years down the line, it will be John Wall’s turn to test the waters of free-agency. Looking even farther ahead, we’ll eventually draft another franchise player who will one day have to decide between taking the harder route of pursuing a championship in Washington or opting for the easy route of joining a team full of All-Stars. Granted, our players like John and Otto are too valiant and have too much pride to make the same gutless decision that Durant did. Still, with our sports luck, we can’t rule out any tragedy, and we have to do what we can to get ahead of such an unfortunate situation.

Therefore, it is imperative that we set the tone now for how our fans are going to reproach the players who ditch this team versus how we’ll reward the players who make a commitment to our fans and to our city. Every player in the league, and especially those that wear the letters “dc” on their shorts, needs to see first-hand how the nation’s capital reveres athletes who stay loyal to the city and abhors endlessly those who do the opposite.

That all starts with Kevin Durant in two weeks’ time. When everyone sees how mean we are to a player who turned his back on a team that isn’t even ours, they’ll start getting the picture for how serious we take loyalty in DC.

Conclusion

There you have it. That’s my plea for why we have to make Kevin Durant’s next return to DC one of his most combative encounters yet. This goes further than simple discontent with KD’s free-agency decision. This is more about protecting our turf and demanding to be taken seriously as NBA fans.

Now, I’m not saying KD should be doomed to eternally be derided whenever he comes to DC. But though Durant is the DMV’s native son, like all children, he needs to be disciplined. Maybe one day, KD, like Lebron did for Cleveland, will realize his transgressions against his hometown and work to right them. If and when that day comes, I’ll be the first to say we should forgive him and welcome him back into the DC fraternity. After all, hand in hand with parental discipline, comes the opportunity for mercy and redemption.

That being said, for the time being, every Wizard fan with tickets to the Wizards-Warriors game on February 28th should be rocking a red and blue cupcake t-shirt and a stockpile full of insults and boos for Kevin Durant.

Where Do John Wall & Bradley Beal Rank Among Best Backcourts in the NBA?

Where Do John Wall & Bradley Beal Rank Among Best Backcourts in the NBA?

Last night’s big performance by John Wall and Bradley Beal reminded Wizards fans just how good the young duo can be when healthy.  At the same time, the close win over a poor team and the abysmal record thus far this season show that their brilliance can easily be weighed down by a lack of talent elsewhere on the roster.  So, how good is this backcourt really?  Over the past couple of years, their strong playoff performances and youthful upside have garnered them mentions in the conversation of best guard duo.  But how do they compare against the other top guard combinations in the Association this season?

houseofguards

Here are the rankings and stats of the best backcourts in the NBA based on reputation and performance thus far this season:

  1. Steph Curry &Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 46.4 PPG, 8.2 APG, 6.8 RPG, 2 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Image result for klay thompson steph curry

The Splash Bros. are the obvious title holders for Best Backcourt in the NBA.  Even though their stats aren’t the gaudiest thus far this season, they easily retain the title based on their reputation and record.

  1. DeMar DeRozan & Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 50.8 PPG, 10.9 APG, 10.7 RPG, 3.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Image result for kyle lowry demar derozan

The boys from the North are balling better than any other backcourt pair from the East.  But will that be enough to allow the Raptors to challenge the Cavs this year?

Note*: Let’s not forget the WizKids duo swept these two out of the playoffs just a couple years back.

  1. Russell Westbrook & Victor Oladipo – Oklahoma City Thunder

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 48.5 PPG, 12.9 APG, 13.8 RPG, 2 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Image result for russell westbrook victor oladipo

This backcourt has more of a Batman-Robin dynamic than others on this list.  Anybody plus Russell Westbrook is going to make a good a duo when he’s average near a triple-double.

  1. Damian Lillard & C.J. McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 50.9 PPG, 7.9 APG, 8.9 RPG, 2 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Image result for damian lillard cj mccollum

The highest scoring backcourt in the league and one that wasn’t even in the discussion not that long ago.

  1. James Harden & Eric Gordon – Houston Rockets

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 44 PPG, 14.9 APG, 11.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Image result for james harden

If the dynamic of the Oklahoma City backcourt resembles Batman-Robin, the Houston backcourt evokes memories of perhaps Iron Man & his Jon Favreau-portrayed chauffeur.  Still, even if James Harden is doing the majority of the heavy lifting here, the combined stat line puts this combo definitively in the Top-5.

  1. John Wall & Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 46.4 PPG, 11.5 APG, 6.6 RPG, 2.8 SPG, 1.3 BPG

WallBeal_9xykesse_kst43urh

Wizards fans probably didn’t expect to see their young stars this far down on the list.  However, they do have the fewest total minutes played this season of all the duos on this list. Hopefully, as the two get healthy and accustomed to their new coach’s game plans, they’ll rise up the rankings.

  1. Isaiah Thomas & Avery Bradley – Boston Celtics

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 44 PPG, 9.3 APG, 10.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG, .5 BPG

Image result for isaiah thomas avery bradley

Al Horford chose to go team up with this pair instead of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

  1. Kemba Walker & Nicolas Batum – Charlotte Hornets

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 38.8 PPG, 10.2 APG, 10.6 RPG, 3.1 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Image result for kemba walker nicolas batum

I really thought that Batum was more of a small forward.  But he’s technically a shooting guard, so these two have can’t be overlooked in the conversation.

  1. Chris Paul & J.J. Redick – Los Angeles Clippers

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 33.8 PPG, 9.9 APG, 7.1 RPG, 4 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Image result for chris paul jj redick

Their stats are not the best, but they get the nod here because of the team’s success so far this season and because Chris Paul is still one of the best and somehow most underrated guards in the league.

  1. Eric Bledsoe & Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns

Combined 2016-2017 Stats: 38.06 PPG, 7.57 APG, 8.5 RPG, 1.92 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Image result for eric bledsoe devin booker

These two went toe to toe with House of Guards last night and almost came away with the W, showing that they belong in the conversation for best backcourts.

 

 

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:

490796233

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!

 

Fan Challenge: Who’s Got the Dopest DC Basketball Jersey Collection?

Yesterday I got a new John Wall 2016 All-Star jersey in the mail in time for the last home game of the season.  That brings my collection to nine jerseys, most of which I think are pretty dope.  This got me thinking, what Wizards fan out there has the best DC-exclusive jersey collection?  Check out my growing collection below, and let’s see who can top it.

FullSizeRender

Jersey Descriptions: (Clockwise from top right corner)

John Wall Home White– This is the obviously the cornerstone of any fan collection: the home jersey of the franchise player.  I got this badboy as a Christmas present from my parents back when the team first changed its colors.

Kevin Durant USA– The #KD2DC dream isn’t dead yet! I’ve worn this jersey to two OKC games at the Verizon Center and pretty much every Fourth of July since 2012.

John Wall Rookie Road Throwback– I wasn’t a big fan of these colors, but you can’t go wrong with a jersey from John’s rookie season.  This one is a good choice for a Throwback Thursday.

Wes Unseld Bullets Road Mitchell & Ness– These are my favorite jerseys in the franchise history.  The blue on these is super clean, the Bullets logo is fresh, and it’s a throwback to the team’s one championship trophy.  I was really lucky to find this jersey for cheap o Ebay.

John Wall 2016 East All-Star– This team has one All Star, so it’s cool to give him props by rocking his All-Star jersey.  The jersey itself is not terribly good-looking, but this one is clearly better than John’s 2014 and 2015 All-Star jerseys, which were hideous and bland, respectively.

JR Wizards Rec League(reversible)- I’m not exactly sure where I got this.  I actually think my mom bought this from a thrift store or else it was handed down to me from a cousin.  In either case, I’ve been balling in this for years and like to pretend that I played for the JR Wizards Rec League.

Michael Jordan Wizards Road– Like every other male my age, I was obsessed with MJ as a kid.  And when he came to the Wizards is when I really became a fan of the team.  I got the jersey along with tickets to my first NBA game for my birthday when I was in sixth grade, and I probably wore this once a week for the full year following that.  Today, I have mixed feelings about Jordan’s legacy as a Wizard, but it’s almost required to have for any Wizards jersey collection.

Nene Brazil National Team– To be honest, this is just a generic Brazil jersey and it’s not even Nene’s number when he plays for the National team.  But nobody knows that, and I’m going to get his name screen-pressed onto the back anyway.  This is going to be a great wear if we ever get a game on St. Patty’s Day and when I visit my classmate in Brazil.

Chris Webber Bullets Road– Chris Webber doesn’t have much of a legacy as a Wizards player, but he actually was one of my favorite players when he played for the Kings.  This jersey is pretty good looking too with the bright red.  I had a choice of picking up Webber’s jersey with #2 or #4.  I went with #2 as a homage to the WallStar.

Next Up:

My next jersey purchases (if my fiancé doesn’t read this and stop me), is a Marcin Gortat Road jersey, a Bradley Beal alternate blue jersey, and a Gilbert Arenas Zephyrs Throwback.  After that, I’ll feel like I have a pretty complete collection.

nextJerseys

Mr. Brightside: Reasons To Stay Positive Despite a Gloomy Season

Even though the Wizards aren’t yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the current mood of Wizards fans is somewhere between depressed and suicidal.  Everywhere you look, on #WizardsTwitter, Facebook fan groups, Wizards blogs, or the team subreddit, fans are calling for the heads of management, threatening ending their fandom, and writing off our young stars. This is understandable after a season that started with great expectations but is ending with large regressions.  Even I, who recently put out ideas for coping with the pain, am having trouble not hopping on the bandwagon of dismay.   But I think it’s gone too far.  Being a fan is supposed to be about having fun.  And there’s a risk that this negativity will carry into next season and divide our fan base.  So in the interest of sending out some positive vibes, here are some reasons we Wizards fans should still be looking on the bright side:

John Wall, Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards’ John Wall, left, and Bradley Beal poses for a photographer during NBA basketball media day at the Verizon Center in Washington, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

We have young stars: John Wall will be 26 at the start of next season and Bradley Beal will be 23.  Both players have a lot of room to grow, but they also have time to get there.  Hopefully after this year of disappointment they’ll attack the offseason with a invigorated spirit and come back next season as better players and leaders.

We’ve been through much worse: In times like these it’s helpful to have some perspective. This season has surely been letdown, but at least we have expectations at all.  Just a few years ago, our season was over before the All Star break each year and there was no reason to watch a Wizards game in April except for Shaqtin A Fool moments.  Personally, I’d rather experience a disappointment than be numb to losing altogether.

Next season will be the pivotal year: Ernie’s plan (if you can call it that) was always to position the team to make big moves this summer.  This past season was a bridge year.  Obviously, it would’ve been better to win in the interim, but at least there’s hope that we bring in a few big name free agents and arm the team for next year.

We still have great playoff basketball to watch: There’s nothing better than watching your team in an NBA playoff series.  But if you can’t have that, the next best thing is competitive and interesting playoff series.  With the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, and Cavaliers, there are surely going to be some good games to watch and riveting storylines to digest.

This is a short list and I’ll admit that it was hard to even come up with these four things to be positive about.  Still, the point is that we should stay positive and enjoy our team.  We’re not moving on to the playoffs like we expected, but can still have fun pulling for our squad in these last few games.  I have seats in the section behind the Wizards bench for the final game against Atlanta, and I was seriously tempted to come with a sign calling out Randy and prepared to boo.  But that’s not the type of fan I want to be.  Instead, I’m bringing a positive attitude and a sign to congratulate John on a good individual season.  That’s what we’re supposed to do as fans: be supportive of our team through the good AND the bad.

 

How to Cope With the End of Another #soWizards Season

After another heartbreaking and incomprehensible loss last Friday, it is time for us Wizards fans to accept our inevitable fate.  In a few weeks’ time, we’ll be watching our team’s performance in the draft lottery rather than in the first round of the NBA playoffs.  The first step to recovery is acceptance, and while we may have been trying to delude ourselves into believing we could turn things around, it’s better to now move on and begin the healing process.  But after a season of anguishing over every win and loss, how does a fan flip the switch from passionate engagement to indifferent detachment? In my experience this can be extremely difficult, especially when there are still games left to be played.  Here are some tips for dealing with the pain:

johnwallbruh_nve7lf

Don’t dwell: Again, the first step to recovery is accepting the facts and admitting that you’re powerless to control the situation.  So, even though the Wizards aren’t yet mathematically eliminated, and even though Detroit still has a tough schedule to close out the season, we have to come to terms with the fact that we’re not making the playoffs regardless.  Even if we do miraculously go on an 8 game win streak, we all know that’s just a setup for us to lose by 30 in the season finale and miss the playoffs by a game.  It’s better to move on now then to keep tormenting ourselves with revitalized hopes that only turn into dashed dreams.

Along with this, it’s important not to dwell on how close we came or how things could have been different.  Sure, a handful of made free throws here or there could have us in the driver seat for a playoff spot.  But reminiscing on those close calls isn’t going to change the box score, and will only serve to torment you further.  Instead, let it go; clear your mind of what could have, would have, or should have been.

Look For Silver Linings: Another key to staying positive despite the abysmal results of this season is to look for a silver lining.  In the case of the Wizards, the biggest positive of this season will be us firing Randy Wittman.  Wittman has done a good job in resurrecting the team from being the laughingstock of the league, but the time has come for him to go.  The players clearly are no longer responding to him, and the team is underachieving under his guidance.  While Wittman has been a good stopgap, the team will never reach its ultimate goal with him at the head.  Had the Wizards made the playoffs, Ted Leonsis might have convinced himself that three consecutive postseason berths warranted keeping, or worse yet, extending Randy’s contract.  From that perspective, if the cost of getting rid of Randy Wittman was missing the playoffs, then maybe this poor season was worth it.

Retroactively Revise Your Preseason Projections: Comparing where the Wizards are now to where we thought they’d end up back at the beginning of the season puts into perspective how much of a colossal let-down this year has truly been.  To minimize your misery, it’s probably best to wipe these expectations from your memory, or even go a step further and misremember them as being lower.  Looking back through my Twitter feed, I honestly thought this team would win 51 games this year, a heart-breaking fact.  For purposes of consoling myself, I’m changing that number to 41.  Now, looking from the through the eyes of a fan expecting 41 wins, this season wasn’t such an epic failure and only moderately disappointing.  I’m feeling better already.

revisedProjections.jpg

Conveniently Forget  How Much Trash You’ve Talked:  If you’re like me, you talk a lot of trash to other NBA fans during the regular season.  All year long I was bragging about every win, telling everyone how much better the WizKids were than their team, and insisting we’d turn the season around despite our poor record.  Now that our season is effectively over, it’s time to do a complete 180: keep quiet, avoid any basketball conversations with those same fans you shit-talked, and pretend like you never cared in the first place.  There’s no good comeback when your team is losing, so it’s best to keep your mouth shut.

This season, my good friend and Hornets fan has been a primary target of shit-talk. Every day I had a smart comment for her about Jeremy Lin’s stupid hair or an insulting hashtag.  But now that they’re surging and we’re sucking, she’d be lucky to get two words out of me about NBA basketball.  I’m just going to lie low and wait until next season tips off, when I’ll be right back running my mouth off in her ear with several months’ worth of new jokes and insults.

hornetsTrashTalk.png

Look to play spoiler: Now that we’ve fallen dramatically short of our aspirations, the only way to still watch Wizards games without being completely depressed is to root for our team to ruin other teams’ aspirations.  If we can’t have things, then no one can.  Root for upsets, spoilers, and streak busters.  This gives us a reason to stay engaged in rooting for the Wizards to win these last few games.  And the more bitter we can make other fan bases, the better.  Let’s embarrass Kobe in one of the final home games of his career. Let’s end the Warrior’s home win streak and hurt their bid at the regular season record.  Let’s spoil Blake Griffin’s return to the Clippers.  Let’s keep the Hornets from winning home court advantage for the playoffs, and then let’s do the same thing to the Hawks.

Enjoy Clearance Sales on Merchandise: The end of the season is always a good time to buy team apparel and merchandise for cheap, and with the Wizards missing the playoffs we can expect especially good sales.  Retail stores in DC don’t routinely stock up on Wizards gear, and they’ve only recently increased inventory now that football is over and the NBA playoffs are almost set to begin.  But with our season coming to an abrupt halt, retailers are going to have to offer massive discounts to sell off their Wizards stuff to clear their shelves in time for Nationals season.  As fans that support the team even when they’re not trending, this is an opportunity to pick up Wizards swag for pennies on the dollar.  Just try not to buy gear branded for players who might not be here next year.

Attend the Last Home Game and Bring a Good Sign: The regular season home finale is always a fun game to go to.  But when your team is certain to miss the playoffs, attendance at this game is essentially mandatory.  There won’t be Wizards basketball for six plus months, so take advantage of this final opportunity to watch the team.  Being at the final game also lets you get some closure on the season.  This is where you demonstrate your love (or hate) for different stakeholders in the organization.  I’ll be there to boo Randy Wittman one last time during his introduction, and to give John a standing ovation when he comes out of the game for the final time this season.  What will make this experience even better is bringing a well-constructed and carefully thought-out sign that sums up your feelings to the whole stadium.  Personally I’m working on several ideas (stay tuned for more.)

VeseleySign

This Wizards season sucked.  That’s plain and simple and there’s no other way to look at it.  The only thing we can do is make the best of what we’ve been given and squeeze whatever fun we can out of these last few games.  These steps won’t make the season any less depressing, but they’ll help us Wizards fans come to grips with our sad reality and move forward.  Until next year, when we’ll probably do the same thing all over again.

Remaining Schedules of 4 Teams Fighting for Last East Playoff Spots

The WizKids took a really tough loss tonight and now sit 2.5 games outside of the 8th spot.  But there’s still a glimmer of hope.  Here are the remaining schedules of the 4 teams vying for the last two playoffs spot in the East.

Remaining Schedule

And here are the current standings:

Standings3-24

Of all four teams, we have perhaps the easiest schedule, as well as the tiebreaker over the Pistons and Bulls.  Plus, we can win a game back from the Pistons on 4/8.  So, it’s certainly going to be tough, but its not yet time to give up hope on the season.  #dcRising

Wizards Economics 101: Season Tickets Are an Unconsciously Bad Investment

Click here to read the new analysis for the 2019-2020 NBA season.

I’ve been a member of the DC 12 Club, more commonly known as Washington Wizards season ticket holders, for the past two seasons.  With the playoffs approaching, it’s now time to decide whether I’ll opt into a third year of buying tickets to 41 NBA basketball games at the Verizon Center.  Every week my inbox is filling up with deadline reminders from my guest services specialist and renewal sweepstakes promotions from the Monumental sales staff.  I’m easily the biggest Wizards fan I know personally, but after two years of loyal patronage, it has become glaringly obvious that purchasing Wizards season tickets is a horrible investment.

I first purchased season tickets two years ago in the middle of the Wizards playoff series win against the Chicago Bulls.  What most appealed to me about signing up for the commitment was that season ticket holders were guaranteed cheap prices for the duration of the playoffs.  I was predicting a second-round win against Indiana and a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, so this was too good of a deal to pass up.  Instead, the season ended with me witnessing three home playoff losses to the Pacers and drunkenly heckling Ted Leonsis at the conclusion of Game 6.  Still, I was excited for the upcoming season and I had a strategy to recoup most of the season ticket costs.  After a year where I attended 13 games and almost broke even on the resale market, I re-upped for another year of season tickets.  The price had jumped almost 33%, but the WizKids were surging again and I was sure another deep run into the playoffs would help me offset some of those higher costs and increase the resale value for the upcoming season.  Again our season ended with me drunk at a Game 6 at the Verizon Center, but this time it wouldn’t be filled with a season where I made a good return on my season tickets.

dc12

I’m told I have about a week to decide on whether or not to renew my season tickets.  The first year it was an easy choice to sign up for tickets.  Last year, I mulled over the decision and went back and forth before ultimately opting to renew.  This year, it was an easy “No, thank you.”  Let’s walk through the decision making process:

Rising Prices: When I first purchased Wizards season ticket for the 2014-2015 NBA season, my two tickets in section 117 (lower level behind the basket) were priced at $35/game for a season total of $2,975.  The next year, for the 2015-2016 season, the prices jumped 33% to $46/ticket for a season total of $3,950.  At that time, I could reasonably justify the price hike with the team’s progression, consecutive years with a good playoff run, and the promise that resale prices on regular season games would continue to rise.  This year, prices for the same seats have risen another 8% to $4,250, even though the team has struggled all year to remain competitive.  Of course, Ted Leonsis is running a business, and having a monopoly on NBA tickets in Washington, DC, he can set the prices however he sees fit.  But, as I’ve seen over two years, this owner is getting greedy and clearly setting the season ticket price above market value.

Resale Prices:  Most season ticket holders buy tickets not expecting to attend all 41 home games.  My strategy when I first signed up was to sell tickets to most big ticket games in order to recoup a majority of the costs.  As a real Wizards fan, I attend games to watch the home team, and I can have fun at every game, regardless of the opponent.  For the 2014-2015 season, I sold tickets on Stubhub, and even after attending 13 games, I made back $2,850 of the $3,000 season ticket cost on the resale market. 13 games for an average $6 per ticket was a steal.  But for this past season, I’ve only made back $2,500 on the resale market while attending or giving away tickets to 11 games.  This happened even after the switch to NBA Ticket Exchange, which yields higher payouts for the seller as compared to StubHub.  Unlike the previous season, I went to none of the top-ten marquee games, and found myself unable to attend, sell, or give away tickets on five different occasions.  The $50/ticket for game attended I’ve paid this year was higher than the season ticket price, and an even worse deal considering how much I would have saved by buying the same tickets on the resale market.  The rising season ticket price only makes the deal worse.  Below is the summary of what I’ve done with  season tickets thus far this year.

Screenshot (137)

It is clear that no matter how many Wizards games you envision yourself attending, it is always better to buy your tickets on an individual game basis.  Even though you’ll save money on the big-ticket games, those savings will be offset by all the games that the market determines are worth only a fraction of the season ticket prices.  For the amount of money I spent on Wizards tickets this year, by buying on resale tickets I could have seen the Wizards take on the Cavs, Warriors, Clippers, Spurs, Bulls, Cavs again, Clippers, Thunder, Kobe Bryant, and the Raptors.  That’s an incredible lineup of games considering the games that I actually went to.

Playoff Tickets: The biggest perk of being a DC 12 Club member is that you are guaranteed tickets to all playoff games at a very reasonable price (My lower level tickets were about $50/game for each seat.)  Obviously, playoff tickets go for much more on the resale market, and this can yield a lot of value whether you resell your tickets or decide to attend the games.  The farther the team goes, the more value you accrue as a ticket holder.  Admittedly, this was the major selling point for me when I first purchased season tickets.  As an optimistic fan, I foresaw deep playoff runs and huge resale values for my tickets.  However, the Wizards are currently outside looking in on the playoff picture, and there is a very real chance that purchasing season tickets will return zero playoff tickets.  Even if we (hopefully) squeeze into the last spot, we’ll have a matchup with the Cavaliers that will surely end our season.  The Cavs yield the highest return on tickets of any Eastern Conference foe, and lower level tickets will likely fetch $300 for a pair on the resale market.  Still, this means that the best possible return on playoff tickets is $600, hardly enough to validate buying a season’s worth of tickets.

Free Swag: Another supposed perk of being a DC 12 Club member is that you get awesome and exclusive Wizards swag.  I’ll admit that I love both the Wizards warm-up jacket and gym bag that I received in my two years as a season ticket holder.  But besides those once-a-season gifts, being a ticket holder doesn’t get you much.  You can redeem Monumental Rewards points for gifts and you get 20% off at the Wizards Store at the Verizon Center.  Personally, I can only use so many Wizards bobbleheads or water bottles and I’ve found many options for buying cheaper team apparel and jerseys.  Monumental also offers different opportunities for fan experiences, such as writing your name on the court or allowing you to shoot free throws on post-game.  These opportunities are limited to specific games and are limited in their availability.  In my two seasons as a season ticket holder, I’ve never been able to take advantage of one of these perks because either I was not attending that game, the opportunity was booked, or I was simply was not interested.

IMG_1118

KD2DC?: Buying season tickets could be a good idea if you believe that Kevin Durant will sign with the Wizards this summer, igniting interest in the team and causing resale values to surge.  Obviously, this is a far-fetched proposal at the present time.  Kevin is extremely unlikely to leave a title contender to come to a team that is struggling to make the playoffs.  His last appearance at the Verizon Center surely didn’t help our cause.  Even if KD does shock the world and come home, more than likely you’ll still have a chance to get in on Wizards season tickets.  From last season to this one, many season ticket holders have opted not to renew, and more are likely to do so this year with the higher ticket prices and underachieving team.  This means that when the time comes for Durant to make his decision, there will still be a fair amount of season tickets available and you’ll have a chance to delay your purchase decision until that time.

Bottom Line: In case the above points were not clear enough, let me sum up the morale of this blog post in one sentence: under no circumstances should you purchase Washington Wizards ticket for the 2016-2017 NBA season.  No matter how many games you plan on attending or what your budget is for NBA games, buying individual game tickets on the resale market is always a better financial decision.  Personally, I’ll plan on paying $750-$1,000 for tickets over the course of the season, and try to attend a nice mix of marquee and cheap games.  Weekday games against unpopular teams can be had at great prices, and I’ll likely look to attend 8-10 of these.  That will leave money for a few games against the likes of the Cavs, Warriors, and Spurs, as well as room in the budget to attend some playoff games.

I hope the Wizards are indeed in line for a deep playoff push this season, as well as the addition of the kid from PG.  Even if they are, and especially if they’re not, the simple finances of a being a Wizards season ticket holder dictate that being such for the upcoming season is a very poor financial decision.

 

(Not So) Bold Prediction: Wizards Are Going to the Eastern Conference Finals

Originally Posted 3/3/2016

Part of the fun of being a sports fan is making bold predictions.  You envision the best-case scenario for your team, the one that could happen if absolutely everything breaks right for your squad, and then you rationalize why it will happen.  Convincing yourself is easy- for a passionate sports fan this takes mere minutes- but it requires considerable time and thought to make sound arguments that you can defend to your buddies.  Most of the time, your fantasies will never be realized.  But making these types of guesses are great for giving yourself something to dream about, which is worth any hit you might take to your credibility as a sports guru.  And in those rare occasions when your sports dreams turn into reality… well, the only thing better than your team surpassing expectations is being able to say you called it from the beginning.

Earlier this week, I was going through my annual playoff-preparation process of making bold predictions for my Washington Wizards.  While rationalizing my arguments, what began as a hope-generating exercise quickly morphed into an epiphany.  The revelation: the Washington Wizards are going to the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals!  Before you dismiss this as the delusions of a DC enthusiast, bear with me and listen to the rationale.  Because while the odds of the WizKids winning the East is 40/1, the more you think about it, the more obvious it is that this team reaching the third round of the playoffs is the most plausible outcome.

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets
<> at Barclays Center on December 18, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

End of Regular Season: Just a couple weeks ago, before the All-Star break, it felt like a reach to argue that the Wizards were going to make the playoffs at all.  But after last night’s win against the Wolves, the team only sits ½ games behind the 8th spot in the East and only 2 ½ games out of 5th place.  The team is finally finding some reliable depth, as Alan Anderson and Markeef Morris are proving to be leaps and bounds above the replaced Dejuan Blair and Kris Humphries in terms of basketball skills.  Factor in Bradley Beal getting his legs back underneath him and Nene making timely contributions, and the Wizards are sure to make strong improvements over the first half of the season.  No longer are we relying on John Wall to put the team on his back game in and game out.  These developments, plus a manageable schedule and fading competition for the final playoff spots, will allow the team to move back into and upwards in the playoff picture.  At their best, the Wizards could contend for the 5th playoff or even 4th playoff seed.  However, once you consider the inevitable disappointing losses and #soWizards moments, it’s more likely they end up 6th, behind the Hawks and Heat, and ahead of the Pistons, Hornets, Pacers, and Bulls.  This will put the Wizards in line for a first round matchup with the 3 seeded Boston Celtics.

First-Round Series: At first glance, a series against the Celtics is a horrible matchup for the Wizards, who have gone a dismal 0-4 against Boston in the regular season.  However, a look at recent DC playoff history reveals that this is exactly the matchup our fans should be rooting for.  First, in the NBA playoffs, talent routinely trumps intangibles such as hustle and determination, as the game slows down, players increase their focus, and wins come down to big players making big plays.  Player for player, the Wizards’ roster is better than the Celtics’, and the playoff atmosphere will prove that.  John Wall has numerous physical advantages over his counterpart Isiah Thomas, and we’ve already seen that win-or-go home situations transform Bradley Beal into a clutch, superstar caliber player.  Add to that increased contributions during the playoffs from Nene and the aforementioned additions to the DC squad, and the Wizards will clearly have an upper hand to the home-court advantaged Celtics.  Sure, during the regular season, Brad Stevens has outclassed and out maneuvered Wizards coach Randy Wittman.  But as we’ve seen the past two seasons, playoff basketball turns Randy into a different animal, a master strategist who can make effective in-game adjustments and outwit opposing coaches who’ve previously bewildered him.  Moreover, Randy and his squad have a history of being road warriors, swiping away home-court advantage in their last four playoff series.  This matchup will prove no different, and the Wizards will wipe the floor with the Celtics, easily taking the first two games on the road and winning the series in five games.

Conference Semi-Finals:  After earning a few days of rest as a result of a quick playoff win against the Celtics, the Washington Wizards will head up to Toronto for a rematch from last year’s first round series against the Raptors.  Most likely, the Raptors will be coming off a longer, tougher series against the Bulls or Pacers, where they will have faced both scrutiny and self-doubt.  Though the team from the North will be a harder matchup for the kids from the nation’s capital than Boston, the WizKids will still have several critical advantages.  One that shouldn’t be underestimated is the anxiety that the Raptors will encounter from playing the team that swept them just a year ago.  Paul Pierce is no longer around to “call game,” but Toronto will surely still have demons to exercise from getting blown out at the hands of John Wall and Co. twelve months ago.  They’ll be pressing, making uncharacteristic mistakes, and the Wizards will be able to capitalize and take advantage.  It’s also important to note teams generally don’t win at important stages until they’ve been there before and learned the needed lessons that come from disappointment.  Everywhere in sports, from Jordan’s Chicago Bulls to Lebron’s Miami Heat to the Peyton’s Denver Broncos, we’ve seen that champions are forged through fire.  In recent history, only the Golden State Warriors have come out of nowhere to advance far in their championship pursuit without previously facing adversity and failure.  The Wizards have been two games away from the Conference Finals the past two seasons, while the Raptors haven’t made it out of the first round.  Consequently, the Wizards, and not the Raptors, will have the mental fortitude and required tenacity to advance to the next round.  Expect this series to end in Game 6 at the Verizon Center, where Wizards fans will actually turn out and give their team a much needed home-court advantage.

Eastern Conference Finals: After dispatching of the Raptors, the Wizards will finally move on to the next phase in winning an NBA championship: the Eastern Conference Finals.  Of course, this will be a matchup against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  I’ll wait until this occurs to make a case for how and why the WizKids will prevail, though this will be much harder to convince myself of.  But just getting here will be a rewarding experience and certainly the pinnacle to-date of every Wizards supporter’s fandom.

I acknowledge I haven’t ruled out the possibility that I’m blinded by my rabid loyalty to my home team and hopes for basketball glory in DC.  Still, at worst I’ll be out the $20 I’m wagering on the team to make the Conference Finals and at risk of being branded a Wizards fanatic.  But according to intuition and (reasonably) sound logic, the more likely result is that I’ll have some extra cash and be rooting for John Wall to end Lebron’s streak of consecutive NBA Finals appearances.  In either case, believing that the our team can achieve such a lofty goal gives our fans something to hope for and makes watching Wizards basketball all the more engaging and fascinating.  And when the Wizards do beat the Raptors to advance to a series against the Cavaliers, just remember that you heard it here first!

#WizKids #WizardsTalk #DCrising

Follow me at @WizzzKidd21 for more Wizards fan content

John Wall Frustration: Why Doesn’t the Wallstar Get More Love in DC?

Originally Posted 2/27/2016

Anyone who watches Washington Wizards basketball knows that John Wall is the franchise.  The guy does everything for this team: score, set up his teammates, rebound, swat shots, win dunk contests, etc.  He has superstar talent and there is arguably no other player that is depended upon as much as John Wall.  And yet, the Wallstar gets very little recognition nationally or even in the District.  Through his interviews and his body language during home losses, you can tell this is becoming a little frustrating for him.

johnFrustration
“The type of player I am, and person I am, character I have, I should be seen on commercials, in the nation’s eyes and the people’s eyes.  And I haven’t,” Wall told Michael Lee of The Vertical. “I was everywhere (in Kentucky),” Wall said.  “I ain’t got no billboard in DC.”  But why isn’t John Wall getting more love?  Especially in DC, where he made basketball relevant again for the first time since Agent Zero lost his mind and brought guns to the locker room.  Let’s explore some of the reasons:

Washington is Primarily a Football Town: The biggest reason is that though the DC area has been known for producing some standout basketball talent, in terms of fandom, the city is completely enamored by football.  The Redskins dominate the local sports radio, newspaper coverage, and barbershop conversations.  No matter how bad the team is, and its had a remarkable record of futility the past two decades, Skins fans always want to talk about how they’re only a player or two away from a Super Bowl run or what should be done with the third string quarterback.  The truth is that the Redskins are probably 20 years and a new owner away from ever being consequential in the NFL- but the fans will never realize that.  And as long as that’s the case, John and the Wizards will always being playing second fiddle.

John is Playing During a Golden Age for DC Sports Stars: Not only does John Wall have to compete with the Redskins mania, but he’s also playing during a time when sports superstars are plentiful in the District.  John is sharing the Verizon Center with perhaps the best hockey player in the world in Alex Ovechkin, and a few stops down on the Green Line, baseball phenom and NL MVP Bryce Harper is a must-see ticket.  When it comes to billboards and local TV spots, there’s only so many to go around.  And in the past few years, John Wall has faced stiff competition.

ESPN and TNT Won’t Broadcast Wizards Games: The Wizards aren’t the only team to experience this problem, but the national TV networks only schedule a handful of teams for the TV lineups, and Washington isn’t one them.  It’s hard to get national visibility when ESPN would rather play Kobe getting blown out by the Grizzlies for the last time than let some young stars get some shine.

DC is a Melting Pot of Other Team’s Fans:  With most federal agencies headquartered in and around DC, the area has become a collage of cultures from around the country and world.  But while this makes the area a great place to visit or live in, it makes it a horrible place to build a basketball fanbase.  Pacers, Blazers, Nuggets- No matter what team the Wizards play at the Verizon Center, there is always a strong contingent of opposing fans.  And because this is probably those fans’ one chance to see their team, they always go all out with gear, cheers, and support.  I was at a game last year, and found myself yelling to drown out Kings fans trying to turn “Let’s Go Wizards” into “Let’s Go Kings.”  And when we play a team with a large bandwagon, like we will in a few hours against the Cavs, the Verizon Center is essentially a neutral location.  Its no wonder John thinks fans are more excited about free Chickfila than a Wizards win- that’s the only thing that gets all fans on the same side!

“Wizards” Is a Horrible Name: A big part of this problem comes down to the organization’s horrible decision to name the team Wizards.  A name and accompanying logo is essentially a marketing campaign, and branding your basketball team as Wizards has to be one of the worst marketing choices in sports history.  Aside from the alliteration, what reason is there to associate your squad of supreme athletes with a fantastical being that uses sorcery?  Sure, Gandalf and Harry Potter were awesome when I was in sixth grade, but back then I was a nerdy, prepubescent boy that read more books per year than I said words to girls my age.  Swag and gear go along way toward making a particular team cool, and the image of a soothsayer twirling the ball on his finger didn’t do this team any favors in that department.  The organization has finally eliminated that horrible logo, but they need to just change the name back to Bullets if they want to connect with city residents- ones from DC- and get them backing the team’s all star.

Other Reasons: Of course, these are just a few of the reasons that John Wall isn’t better regarded in the city where he’s making basketball fun for fans again after half a decade of being the league laughingstock.  There’s the fact that he’s a distributor and play maker, rather than a flashy scorer who only tries to get buckets.  There’s also the fact that DC sports fans are conditioned to expect disappointment, and are growing reluctant to get behind a player or team until they’ve won something, so as to not be let down again.  And then there’s the fact the Ted Leonsis keeps raising ticket prices, and in doing so is pricing out the fans who would really get behind John and this team.

John is only 25 and entering into the prime of his career.  While he surely gets frustrated that he’s not getting more accolades and recognition from the basketball world, he has a fighter’s mentality and knows that he just has to keep working and improving until he does.  The front office can do a lot to cultivate the base of real WizKids fans- we do exist!- and let’s hope they do.  Making the playoffs this year will be critical to keeping momentum, and the fact is that a win or two in a series against Lebron James will put John on the map like nothing else can.  John Wall loves DC, so let’s love him back.