The Washington Wizards 2013 – 2014 NBA season has come to an end with a 93-80 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. That’s how the season ended, but it doesn’t tell the story of what this season was about.
This season was about re-introducing the Washington Wizards on the national stage and reminding people that basketball is played in the nation’s capital. There was John Wall and Bradley Beal, in New Orleans turning heads on All-Star weekend. There were the Wizards, who didn’t play any nationally televised games this regular season, but had 11 playoff games worth of national exposure with Charles Barkley acting as their biggest advocate on Inside the NBA.
This season was about the development of the Wizards’ young backcourt–a backcourt comprised of a 23 and a 20 year old that can potentially develop into the best backcourt in the NBA over the next few years. I’m sure many would argue for the Splash Brothers, but where will John Wall be when he’s 26 years old like Stephen Curry? For all of the criticism Wall takes, the only top point guards who have lasted longer than him this season are Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. Where will Brad Beal be when he’s 24 years old like Klay Thompson? Never mind shooting guards–was there anyone at any position that had the impact he had in these playoffs at 20 years old?
This season was about Washington going through the maddening ups and downs of an 82 game season only to hit their stride in the playoffs. People moaned and groaned all regular season about the reliance on long jumpers, not attacking the basket, personnel, and coaching. After the Wizards clinched a playoff berth, it felt as though there was still more there. That more showed in the playoffs.
This season was about these Washington Wizards still playing in mid-May while teams like the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, and Memphis Grizzlies were already at home watching. That doesn’t even factor in teams like the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics, who started their offseason one month ago.
For me it was about a team that I started watching when I stumbled onto Channel 20 and saw a really tall guy (who ended up being Manute Bol) playing a team wearing all green. Admittedly when the team in green won I assumed they were the Bullets, but eventually I figured out who Larry Bird and the Celtics were;) Over the next 25 years I’ve watched the likes of Pervis Ellison, Ledell Eackles, LaBradford Smith, John “Hot Plate” Williams, Tom Gugliotta, Clabert Chaney, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Rod Strickland, Richard Hamilton, Michael Jordan, Kwame Brown, Juan Dixon, and Gilbert Arenas, all with varying degrees of optimism which unfortunately was followed up by minimal success. It was about for one season being at the center of the NBA universe later in the season than at any point over the past 25 years. It was about watching the local team in the playoffs and not waiting for the NBA Draft Lottery. It was about watching the fandom of the fellow diehards finally pay off and watching new fans jump on board.
This season was about a team that advanced further into the playoffs than they have in any season since the 1978 – 1979, yet oddly it still feels as though it ended too soon and there are bigger things to come. That feeling might be what this season was all about. And there’s still so much more to come.