Photo Courtesy of Yardbarker.com
It’s been a very long time since Wizards fans had something to cheer about.
Yes, there were the “Big Three” years, in which D.C. had tempered optimism for Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison, but let’s be real–an NBA title was never within Washington’s grasp. Nick Young has a better chance of dishing ten assists in a game than the Wizards did at winning a championship. Going back further in D.C. basketball history is even more painful. Kwame “He who must not be named” Brown was the epitome of the poor decision making and turmoil the Wizards faced early in the new millennium. Before that, there was the Mitch Richmond trade, the name change that never should have been, I could go on all day. Basically, Washington has been a tortured basketball city ever since Wes Unseld and company won the franchise’s lone title.
And that’s what makes the arrival of John Wall so special. He changes everything.
Glass half empty fans will point to Kwame Brown and immediately anoint John Wall as the next cursed draft pick. But there’s literally no comparison. Kwame Brown was all hype. He was unproven. He was a member of an extremely weak draft class. Ten years later, John Wall enters the league in completely different circumstances. He proved his ability on one of the best college basketball teams in the country, Kentucky. He possesses the rare combination of a polished skillset along with unlimited potential–a deadly duo. More than that, he’s a leader. He wants the ball in his hands, but isn’t afraid to dish it off. He’s willing to work, willing to strive for greatness, and will do whatever it takes to take D.C. basketball out of the doldrums of the NBA. Kwame Brown wasn’t ready, and he was playing under the largest shadow in the world (Michael Jordan).
Personally, I can’t wait for what’s to come. I anticipate alley-oops from Wall to Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee for the next ten years. Perhaps even Gilbert Arenas will emerge from his cocoon and return as one of the premier scorers in the NBA. The bottom line looking at the Wizards roster? It’s raw, it’s pretty ugly right now, but we have our first true piece. A championship piece, dare I say.
From a management perspective, however, things aren’t so cheery. GM Ernie Grunfeld waited too long blowing up the old roster, and instead of getting great value for the Big Three, he got cap space to use on Kirk Hinrich, along with an extra draft pick that may stay in Europe for a while (Kevin Seraphin).
New owner Ted Leonsis wants to create a new atmosphere in D.C. He’s doing a nice job of connecting with fans so far–he even responds to emails Wizards followers send to him. Still, this is the John Wall Era (JWE for short). That means it’s time to make a clean cut, Mr. Leonsis. Ernie butchered the Big Three, and his drafting this year was questionable to say the least. Start from scratch, with a new GM and a new attitude. And if you really want to keep Grunfeld around, make this his absolute last shot. Accountability needs to be stressed in this new century of Washington D.C. basketball. Mistakes will be made, but they need to be kept to a minimum. Wizards fans are ready for something new, and something special.