May 5, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (1) points after scoring against the Indiana Pacers in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Washington defeats Indiana 102-96. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A Salute to Trevor Ariza And His Time With the Washington Wizards

On July 12, 2014, Trevor Ariza officially signed with the Houston Rockets to a four year deal worth $32 million. Just weeks after being a main contributor to the Washington Wizards’ 2014 postseason run, Ariza rocketed out of the nation’s capital to greener($) pastures.

Since his departure, the Wizards signed Paul Pierce to take the small forward role for the mid-level exception. This future Hall-of-Famer and the anticipated ascendance of Otto Porter will more than make up for Trevor Ariza’s departure and the Washington Wizards will once again be an actual contender in the East (can’t believe I actually wrote that).

Immediately after Trevor Ariza left D.C., Washington Wizards fans and general NBA aficionados were upset with him for leaving. Many stated that he abandoned his squad and some even concluded that the Rockets made a big mistake signing Ariza after just one great season. This could not be farther from the truth.

Before the 2014-2015 NBA season begins and Trevor Ariza dons that red Houston jersey, we, as Wizards fan, should thank him for all that he has done for the Wizards organization. He was one of the main components for the Washington Wizards in converting from a laughing stock to a legitimate basketball team with a great foundation and future, and for that, he deserves recognition.

Apr 29, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (1) shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first quarter in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Even after making the playoffs, nobody truly believed the Washington Wizards would beat the Bulls and get out of the first round. Only 1 of the 19 ESPN NBA Experts picked Washington to upset Chicago. After a first round victory, it’s obvious that Trevor Ariza was as integral as any of the other players.

When his teammates had off nights, Trevor Ariza always showed up. A consistent backbone for the team, Ariza was the leader on the defensive side of the ball while keeping the floor spread on offense with hot shooting and ball movement.

Perhaps his most important moment with the Wizards, and one that should be remembered fondly, is Game 4 against the Chicago Bulls. After leading 2-0 in the series, the Wizards lost a critical Game 3, but more importantly they lost Nene for the following game due to suspension. Now with only a one game lead in the series and momentum heavily in Chicago’s favor, Game 4 was going to be a pivotal contest for the Wizards.

It was Trevor Ariza who picked up the slack and became the rallying cry for Washington. He finished with 30 points but it was his defense that won the game. After going off for 35 points in Game 3, Mike Dunleavy was held in check by Ariza finishing with only 6. Trevor Ariza’s stellar play ensured a 3-1 lead and ultimately a series win in five games.

The Rockets have a gem on their hands in Ariza and all Wizards’ fans should acknowledge that. The Wizards will overcome this loss, however, before the season begins, we should thank Trevor Ariza one last time for all he has done in kick-starting the Wizards and helping build this now flourishing franchise.

I’m going to miss yelling, “ATHREEZA”.

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