Washington Wizards: Lack Of Hometown Fan Support Is Troublesome


Washington Wizards’ Lack Of Hometown Support Is Troublesome

When Kobe Bryant hit a three pointer late in the fourth quarter to put the Los Angeles Lakers up 101 – 99 over the Washington Wizards, the sellout crowd went crazy. After the Wizards’ all-star point guard John Wall found center Marcin Gortat underneath to tie the game at 101….there was no reaction from the crowd.

Bryant then came back and would score the go-ahead bucket that would eventually seal the game for the Lakers. The crowd was happy and the Lakers were celebrating their third victory of the year. Problem is, this game took place in in the Verizon Center….the Wizards home turf.

Scenes like Wednesday night are becoming far too common at Washington Wizards home games. “Fans” of other teams come to the Verizon Center to cheer on their team while shunning the home squad. They are usually the loudest, brashest “fans” and seem to enjoy watching the Wizards struggle and then eventually losing at home to these teams.

The excuses for this range from everything like “I’ve always been a fan of Team XYZ” to “The ownership has made this franchise a mess so I don’t support them” to “I just like player X”. On a purely surface level, basketball provides entertainment for people and most casual NBA fans don’t want to have deal with heartbreak and mediocrity when backing a team while shelling out money, so they latch on to the winners for that luxury.

Past championship teams such as the Lakers, Spurs, and the Bulls have huge followings not just in the DC area, but league wide and is to be somewhat expected.

However, the problem is, you have teams such as the Raptors and the Thunder (teams with no championships) come to town with more fans and fanfare than the Wizards usually have at home.

More from Wizards News

While the DC crowd should appreciate the stars of the league, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the Washington Wizards and the current guys on the team.

In one of the most bizarre cases I have ever seen, two time all-star and current Wizards franchise player John Wall went to the free throw line late to try to put the Wizards up one late in the game.

Once the ref handed him the ball, the boos came pouring in.

Loud boos.

Regardless of who’s in town or what team you pull for, the franchise player, who by the way was having an excellent game keeping his team close, should not be booed. Ever. It’s no secret that the NBA is a star league that pushes its star players as attractions, but shouldn’t John Wall now be included in the “must see live” player list along with players such as Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, etc.?

Wall has been struggling a bit this year, but he has gotten back to what has made him one of the league’s best young point guards and has had back-to-back 30+ point games with 10+ assists. Not many guys in the league can approach that stat line. He has been the Washington Wizards’ best player for the past five years and he has even been honored by the NBA for month of October for his off-court charities and involvement in the community.

After the game, a few Wizards were being interviewed and while most had high praise for Kobe and what he’s meant to the league, they also mentioned that they noticed the crowd and how it felt like an away game. Strangely, most of the DC area teams: the Nationals, Capitals and of course the Redskins, have some of the most loyal, rabid, and patient fans in the country but want nothing to do with the Wizards and what they have going on.

Looking at recent performance, the Washington Wizards have been the most successful team in the area.

More from Wiz of Awes

Getting into the second round of the playoffs in each of the past two playoffs, they have accomplished something that not even the Capitals have done regularly: advance in the playoffs.

After the Wizards advanced to the second round of the playoffs in each of the past two years, DC was buzzing and all of a sudden the Wizards were loved and people were claiming that that have cheered on the Wizards for years!

While the Wizards haven’t been one of the great teams of the NBA in the past few years, they are definitely a team on the rise.

They have young talent such as Wall (25-years-old), Bradley Beal (22-years-old) and Otto Porter (22-years-old) in place and all of them have been playoff tested.

The Wizards will also have enough cap room to sign…ahem….somebody next summer and could potentially be Finals contenders depending on what happens.

With that said, players (and potential free agents) from other teams around the league notice things such as the Wizards being booed at home, the full DC crowd not arriving at the game until late in the second quarter, and the general non-excitement in the arena for the home team.

While that may seem small to fans, support is a huge deal to NBA players. When Kevin Durant brought up that it was disrespectful to the current Wizards team how crazy the DC crowds were rooting for him, his observation should have raised some red flags for DC fans. While I did say that I was one of the people that wanted to continue to welcome the “KD2DC” movement, I wouldn’t boo or ridicule the current team to do so.

I think the Washington Wizards were on the right track curbing “fans” of the other team when they did The Bandwagon Fan Cam and put people who came to game decked out in the other team’s (in this case, it was the Miami Heat) stuff on blast on the jumbo tron a few years.

Most hid their face or looked embarrassed after being called out. The Bandwagon Cam stunt that night even made national sports shows. The team could probably try other things such as giving special gifts to fans who come decked out in Wizards attire or offer people who come in the other teams apparel a discount to turn in their old teams stuff to buy Wizards gear.

It really is discouraging to Washington Wizards fans to be surrounded and outnumbered by “fans” of the other team in the Verizon Center, especially during tight games where emotions are running high. Again, the Wizards are a good team (with some major questions and flaws) that should be in the contention conversation for a while, but a cultural change has to happen for the DC area fans to help give the Wizards that extra push that good teams get from playing at home.

Next: An Improper Goodbye To Gilbert Arenas

Last night’s display of Kobe love and lack of support for the home team was definitely a black mark on the fans in attendance.