Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Wizards (Part 1)

Get ready! It’s the Wizards! My hometown team (so I guess it merits an excessively long preamble…sorry…).
The Wizards were my first team to really start to like (then Boston came along…but we’re not there yet…). I can’t really remember much about the earliest years, but I know I loved Washington. I still have vague memories of 06. Haywood, Jamison, Jeffries, Butler, and Arenas. I just loved them. My one memory from then is…………..Jeffries saving the ball from out of bounds…That’s all I remember (and the Finals from then…We were right against the wall...so the exit was right next to us…). Of course, he’s gone the next year. Of course, my first NBA game is Wizards vs. Bulls (I can’t remember who won that one….don’t really remember it at all…).  The next year, we got DeShawn (who I didn’t like really. But I was into trading cards then, and I didn’t know anything about him and my first memory of him was his Orlando trading card. I vividly remember that card…). We kept on losing to the Cavs in the playoffs (one thing I remember is that I was at my brothers friends birthday party, and my brother and I kept begging to go back to watch the game. And we kept on making our mom look up the score on her phone.). In 07, we see them play the Warriors. It was a great ending. They were down by 2 with 2.9 seconds left, so Gilbert drives, and gets fouled with a tenth of a second left. Don Nelson gets a tech, and he makes 3 free throws to win the game. Incredible. I remember those free throws. I couldn’t see because everyone was standing. Gil is on the jumbotron…And sinks the shots. It was incredibly exciting….At that time, I was obsessed with Roger Mason. For whatever odd reason, I was in love with some of the Wizards benchwarmers. Peter John Ramos, James Lang, Mike Hall, and Kevinn Pinkney. No really. I was obsessed with those guys for some reason (I recently looked up them again. As of today, Ramos is in South Korea, Hall is in Turkey, and Pinkney is in Russia. The sad one is James Lang, who suffered a stroke while on the Utah Flash. He’s paralyzed in his left side….He wasn’t a really good player, but I used to love him ((in fact, I used to find pictures of them, print them, and put them in frames. I think my James Lang one is still around…)). Very sad….). But Rog was my favorite. During timeouts, I would yell to put Roger in. I made a sign that said “Put in Roger and Etan [Thomas…the backup center…he was a really nice guy…]”. Then Roger waved at me when he saw the sign. You don’t know how cool that felt. I’m not even joking. It may have been the best moment of my life. It was surreal. I know that I looked shocked when it happened. Then they went out and beat Golden State (I’m pretty sure Rog didn’t play. Rog, if you are reading this, thank you so much for that one moment…..I remember Etan wasn’t playing well, so I held up the sign, and covered Etan…I remember that too….). In 08, we saw LA play….I think we got crushed. Rog was there again, and this time I got to meet him before the game. I remember that also. Haywood, and Arenas, but regardless how much more famous they are, Rog’s meant the most (he even put a special star right on it..). My sign said “Remember me Rog?” or something like that. Roger was gone the next year, (in SA…), so my sign said “Bring back Roger”. I saw them play the Cavs. My only real memories are the pregame and the end of the game. During the pregame, we got things signed by the hall, some kid kept on trying to get Andray Blatche to sign his Cavs hat, but he wouldn’t, then he tricked him into signing his ticket…Before the game, I got selected to hold the camera as some kids thing. I walked right past LeBron, and kept myself from heckling him…Barely. I remember heckling them, after the Wiz got a D stop, “See that Cavs? That’s called defense!”, and some random guy high fives me. Baby Bron Bron missed a tying 3 at the end of the game and we won. They won 19 that year. I guess we got lucky with the game we picked…(Unrelated: I’ve been to two Knicks games, one in 2010 ((I was on TV. They placed a Double-Mint added right under me and my mom. Yes, yes, that WAS me.)), against the Sixers (got crushed), and this year (at the beginning, against the Sixers…Amare looked awful that game.). More stuff I remember about the Wiz: I really loved Phil Chenier and Steve Buckhantz on CSN. They were really great (I met them at one of the games I went to…). I love the trivia questions they do every game. Hell, I even love their old scoreboard (you know, the black CSN line…not the newer one…). The funniest moment was when Ruffin threw up the ball with 3 seconds left………………..it comes down…………………………………………….and they hit a three to force OT…Wow Ruffin was bad. Now here is some stuff not about me: A very good franchise, who had a very good 70s run. (An MVP in 69, and 4 finals appearances…). They also have the most name changes, with 6 (though 3 lasted only one year…). Let’s get it going!

(1) 1975 Washington Bullets (60-22) vs. (50) 1962 Chicago Packers (18-62)

This may not be the champs, but they were the favorite to win the Finals (but they lost to Golden State…). Believe it or not, the Bullets were very good in the 70s. They made all four of their Finals appearances this decade…The main reason was Wes Unseld (league boards leader, with 9-15-4, and his deadly accurate full court outlet pass), but he always had a great supporting cast around him. This year had the Big E averaging 23-12, Phil Chenier with 22-4-3, Kevin Porter with 12-2-8, and Mike Riordan with 15-4-3. I’m actually pretty excited to see some of these matchups. Once we cut through all the crap, this team has some great teams (or so I keep telling myself….).

Perfect example of the crap. This is their first year. They’d keep this identity for only one year before changing their name….Basically irrelevant, except for Walt Bellamy (32-19), and Slick Leonard (16-3-5)…Yeah, very bad.

(2) 1969 Baltimore Bullets (57-25) vs. (49) 2001 Washington Wizards (19-63)

Wes debuted this year with 14-18, which was good enough for MVP…a bit of a stretch…You shouldn’t be so surprised that this team is up there. The Hayes/Wes days haven’t happened. But it is now the Wes, Earl the Pearl (26-4-5), and Kevin Loughery (23-3-5) era. One thing that prevented them from winning EVEN more, was Gus Johnson (18-12) playing only 49 games. They also got 16-7 from Jack Marin, and 12-9 from Ray Scott. Very good team.

Rip Hamilton had 18-3-3…………..The next best thing they got was 54 games of 18-7 from Juwan Howard….No one else scored double digits and played more than 37 games.

(3) 1979 Washington Bullets (54-28) vs. (48) 2009 Washington Wizards (19-63)

They made the Finals this year, but lost to Seattle…It’s going to be very interesting to find which 70s team is the best…This one had Hayes averaging 22-12, Bobby Dandridge averaging 20-6-5, Wes averaging 11-11-4, and Kevin Grevey averaging 16-4-2. Not to mention 15-7 from Mitch Kupchak, and 12-2-6 from Tom Henderson.

Painful to see…Arenas played 2 games this year (due to injury…)…Antawn Jamison had 22-9, as Caron Butler had 21-6-4, Nick Young had 11-2-1 (I really don’t like Young. I hate his selfish play. I also hate the way he walks. It’s like a cocky kind of strut with his chest sticking out.), and Blatche had 10-5 (I hate him also. I don’t like his attitude at all, and how he tries when it’s convenient to him.). Another person I hate is McGee. I hate athletic centers like him. Out of control, can’t catch boards, and goes for the flamboyant stuff out of bounds all the time. He had 7-4 this year.

(4) 1973 Baltimore Bullets (52-30) vs. (47) 1967 Baltimore Bullets (20-61)

The last Baltimore year (they’d move to Washington as the “Capital” Bullets…then they changed to Washington for 1975.). I like this team here. Could get pretty far in the Washington tourney. Wes had 13-16-4, as he was joined by the Big E, Elvin Hayes (who was traded here from Houston before the year for……………..Jack Marin), who had 21-15. Phil Chenier had 20-4-4, and Mike Riordan had 18-5-5. Watch out for 1973…

…Not very good…Gus Johnson (who is the best pre-Unseld Bullet…) had 21-12, as Kevin Loughery had 18-5-4, Leroy Ellis had 15-12, and Don Ohl (though in only 58 games) had 20-3-3…Some impressive individual stats…but not much winning.

(5) 1970 Baltimore Bullets (50-32) vs. (46) 1995 Washington Bullets (21-61)

The major thing about all these Bullets teams is……that they are loaded. I mean, look at this team. They have Wes Unseld (16-17-4), Earl Monroe (23-3-5), Gus Johnson (17-14), Kevin Loughery (22-3-5), and Jack Marin (20-7). Incredibly good team. Every team except the 4 finals teams seem to lose in the semis….Kinda weird. This team lost in the semis also….

This got….Rasheed Wallace. Juwan Howard had 17-8, and Chris Webber had 20-10-5, as Calbert Cheaney had 17-4-2, and Scott Skiles had 13-3-7….

(6) 1977 Washington Bullets (48-34) vs. (45) 1993 Washington Bullets (22-60)

Not bad…Wes had 8-11-4, as Elvin Hayes had 24-13, Phil Chenier had 20-4-4, and Dave Bing finished his two year stop in DC with 11-2-4. Truck Robinson (16-9) was traded during the year and played 41 games…

Harvey Grant had 19-6, Michael Adams had 15-3-8, and Rex Chapman had 13-10. Pervis Ellison (17-9) played only 49 games….

(7) 1976 Washington Bullets (48-34) vs. (44) 2011 Washington Wizards (23-59)

 Another good team….Unseld had 10-13-5, Elvin Hayes had 20-11, Phil Chenier had 20-4-3, as they got 11-7 from Truck Robinson, and 16-3-6 from Dave Bing.

Most recent team…John Wall had 16-5-8 as Nick Young had the highest points per game, with 17-3. Gil was traded, and they got Rashard Lewis back. My favorite part of the year? The end. And not in the “it was over” way. The Wiz signed some D-Leaguers, and I absolutely loved them. They tried so hard compared to everyone else. All of a sudden, I wasn’t missing any of the game. The starters were meh. But the bench was fabulous. Just put in rookie Kevin Seraphin, Othyus Jeffers (my favorite. He grabbed 13-11 in one game. He’s a guard.), Larry Owens (more of a scorer than Jeffers), and point Mustafa Shakur, plus Jordan Crawford, it’s incredibly refreshing compared to the usual Wiz game.

(8) 1974 Capital Bullets (47-35) vs. (43) 1994 Washington Bullets (24-58)

With Unseld (6-9-3) playing only 56 games, Hayes took over with 21-18. This is their first DC year, and their only “Capital” year…Phil Chenier had 22-5-3, Mike Riordan had 16-5, and Kevin Porter had 14-2-6.

I wonder if they were called the Bullets because some of these teams made fans want to shoot themselves. Rex Chapman had 18-2-3, Don MacLean had 18-6, Tom Gugliotta had 17-9-4, and Michael Adams had 12-3-7.

(9) 2005 Washington Wizards (45-37) vs. (42) 1992 Washington Bullets (25-57)

The year before Caron came. In the meantime, Gil had 26-5-5, as Jamison had 20-8 (he came over before the year from Dallas…basically for Jerry Stackhouse and Devin Harris…), and Larry Hughes (he’d sign in Cleveland for 2006….) had 22-6-5. Jared Jeffries had 7-5, as Brendan Haywood had 9-7…..Not very bad….for the Wizards, at least. If you are going to base it on Washington from 1990 on, this is a golden year.

Nothing special…Pervis Ellison has his only really good, healthy year, averaging 20-11, as Michael Adams had 18-4-8 and Harvey Grant had 18-7.

(10) 1997 Washington Bullets (44-38) vs. (41) 2004 Washington Wizards (25-57)

Chris Webber had 20-10-5, as another Fab 5er, Juwan Howard, had 19-8-4. Rod Strickland (17-4-9) manned the point, and 7-7 Gheorghe Muresan had 11-7….Ben Wallace debuted out of a small VA college with 1-2……..

Gilbert played 55 games (of 20-5-5) to debut in Washington, after his stint in Golden State. Larry Hughes had 19-5, and Kwame Brown was half decent with 11-7 (here’s my take on Kwame: He’s awful for a 1st overall pick. But at some points, he wasn’t a bad center…A decent starter at some points….But I bet the reason he’s really bad now, is that his confidence has been crushed…). Jerry Stackhouse managed only 26 games, and found himself in Dallas for 2005.

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