Washington Wizards 2007 vs. 2015: DeShawn Stevenson vs. Bradley Beal


We’ve all heard of the conversations comparing the old Gilbert Arenas led Washington Wizards teams to the most recent John Wall led squads.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be writing about the 2006-2007 Wizards team (41-41 record) and how they match up against the 2014-2015 Wizards team (46-36 record).

To begin, we’ll compare the shooting guards.

Bradley Beal, 2015 season averages: 15.3 PTS, 3.1 AST, 3.8 TRB, .41 3P%, .43 FG%, 33.4 minutes

DeShawn Stevenson, 2007 season averages: 11.2 PTS, 2.7 AST, 2.6 TRB, .40 3P%, .46 FG%, 29.5 minutes

Who’s the better shooting guard: DeShawn Stevenson or Bradley Beal? Not even a question, right? Bradley Beal is a budding star with a jumper sweet as honey and a penchant for dropping big points in the playoffs.

DeShawn Stevenson is a journeyman with a 7.2 career points-per-game average and a tattoo of Abraham Lincoln on his trachea.

So it’s Beal, by just about every metric that exists. But the importance of DeShawn Stevenson can’t be defined by conventional metrics or any sort of actual sense. DeShawn Stevenson makes me want to make a case for DeShawn Stevenson.

I’m going to make that case.

Bradley Beal and DeShawn Stevenson are as opposite as opposite can be. On the court, Beal’s talent is impossible to miss. He can score 20 points a game without breaking a sweat. He’s been compared to Ray Allen since he was in high school.

Beal has superstar potential. But he’s a quiet man, polite, mature beyond his years, not given to showings of emotion, always playing within himself. Much like Antawn Jamison, he’s so cordial and professional that we haven’t really ever gotten to know the man.

And absolutely none of the words in that preceding paragraph can be applied to DeShawn Stevenson.

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He had more star power in his left pinky than Bradley Beal has in his whole body.

He also had less than half the basketball talent.

Does it really matter?

No one defined that era of Wizards basketball better than DeShawn Stevenson.

601 F Street was an absolute nuthouse then, and Stevenson was its Randle McMurphy. Brash, eye-catching, trash-talking, always trying to punch above their weight, ultimately not that good but dammit they were gonna make things fun anyway – that was the mid-2000s Washington Wizards, and that was DeShawn Stevenson.

And Stevenson wasn’t just a fun personality.

For a couple of years there, he was a pretty good ballplayer. He was a 3-and-D shooting guard before that type of player really became en vogue, shooting around 40% from long range in his first couple years as a Wizard.

On the other end of the ball, he was the self-proclaimed “LeBron stopper,” one of the only players on Eddie Jordan‘s Princeton offense-centered squad who showed a true commitment to defense. He was a warrior.

The LeBron stopper. That is why DeShawn Stevenson is great – the utter audacity of a role player on a middling playoff squad trash-talking the league’s most dominant superstar. DeShawn didn’t care who LeBron James was.

All he knew was that LeBron was a bamma, he was going to guard this bamma, and he was going to spit at this bamma. And here’s the craziest part of the DeShawn Stevenson-LeBron James rivalry: DeShawn kind of won.

So LeBron responds to Stevenson’s trash talk by comparing him to Soulja Boy.

Stevenson decides he’s going to own the hell out of that and invites Soulja Boy to the Wizards Game 3 matchup with the Cavs – Soulja Boy shows up wearing a Stevenson jersey, and the Wizards win by 36. By far, it was the most fun I’ve ever had at a sporting event, and it was the peak of the Big Three era in Washington.

And the LeBron-DeShawn rivalry, already completely ridiculous, managed to take an even crazier turn. In the 2011 NBA Finals, DeShawn Stevenson, now a Dallas Maverick, faced off directly with LeBron and the Heat.

They went mano a mano with the title on the line, DeShawn Stevenson finally getting the chance to guard LeBron James on the world’s biggest stage. He won.

Stevenson made some of the series’ biggest shots and held LeBron to an uncharacteristically low 18 points per game. The Dallas Mavericks were NBA champions because DeShawn Stevenson worked LeBron James.

Middling two-guard DeShawn Stevenson somehow won a rivalry with one of the greatest players of all time, because he was an underdog who didn’t care that he was an underdog.

Stevenson was so full of ludicrous, unwarranted confidence in himself that he couldn’t even conceive that he was an underdog. He thought himself equal match to LeBron James. To him, it made perfect sense that they would be rivals.

That is why DeShawn Stevenson is great.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Bradley Beal. But he doesn’t have that in him. DeShawn Stevenson is cooler than Bradley Beal. And DeShawn Stevenson gave more of himself on the basketball court than Bradley Beal.

He was heart, soul, blood, guts and swag, playing the game with a sneer on his face, one hand waving in the air, and an ATM in his kitchen.

Strictly in the terms that we commonly use to define good basketball players, Bradley Beal is clearly the better basketball player than DeShawn Stevenson. If he wins, it will be via the conventional route: because of his incredible talent and hard work.

But DeShawn Stevenson didn’t need that. DeShawn Stevenson won because he thought that he should, and he didn’t give a crap whether it made sense or not.

That is why he is great. Sorry, Brad. My heart will always belong to DeShawn.

Next: The Definitive Ranking: Wizards Coaches

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