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It is quite an honor for Washington to be one of the dozen U.S. cities to host a team from all four major professional sports leagues. (Yes, it’s five if you count fútbol.) One might think that it would make the District a non-stop flow of great games, huge personalities and quality contests. However, as I have mentioned before in previous posts, this is not the case — and actually, in some instances, the professional team situation is downright ugly.
Last week I saw the face of this backward trend and its name is the Washington Wizards. But even though the team has yet to win a game, there are reasons to head down to the Verizon Center — bear with me, I’ll lead you there.
The Wizards of Chinatown
The Wizards of Chinatown (they play in the Verizon Center, along with the Capitals) are currently winless in this lockout-shortened season — and their prospects of winning aren’t great. It’s really a shame, too, because back in the day, the Washington Bullets were a respectable team that competed hard and didn’t fly with the trends.
Then a massive crime wave hit DC in the ’80s and ’90s — coupled with some losing seasons — and the Bullets hit the restart button by having a fan contest to rename the team. Due to the increasing wizard population in Chinatown, it was an obvious choice. The last decade saw some decent teams and some quality scandals — but not much overall progress in winning games.
Because I am just a coach’s son and not the general manager of an NBA team, I will keep my player/personal thoughts to myself. (But, frankly, any team that did this deserves a kick in the pants).
Last Friday my girlfriend and I went to see for ourselves (Thanks Levines!). The Wizards played the high-scoring New York Knicks and, frankly, just gave the W away. Here is what I saw.
Basketball is about players, not cheerleaders. It is common for pro, and even college teams, to have elaborate lineup introductions that are sometimes accompanied by a video of the team’s and franchise’s highlights. It is meant to pump up the home crowd and get everyone in a frenzy.
The Wizards are young and don’t exactly have many highlights or big name superstars (except last year’s No. 1 draft pick, John Wall) so they look for motivation elsewhere. By elsewhere I mean that their intro video consists of mostly clips of practice footage, offseason free agent signings and their cheerleaders. I was chuckling more than I was excited for Wizards hoops.
Stand until we score. The Wizards encourage this of their fans when the game starts. I love fan interaction, especially in college hoops when stadiums are buzzing before tipoff — but this was just annoying. I sat and fans in front of me blocked my view. I just don’t see the point here.
Halftime, finally. Hands down, the most entertaining halftime show I have ever seen. Why? Well, her name is Krystal Liu and she is part of the Red Panda Arcrobats and until I see another woman on a unicycle flip bowls onto her head from her foot, this act will have the title. I only wish they performed at every Wizards game.
So, Why Go?
Besides Red Panda, why should you spend money to see a Wizards game? First, it’s easy to get there: the arena is right on the Metro Red, Green and Yellow Lines. Second, teams with better players come often. Third, the fans who show up are are obviously well aware of the team’s mediocrity, so the atmosphere is laid back.
Unless the Wizards are playing the Heat, Mavs, Lakers, Thunder or Celtics, it may not be worth the hefty price for an upper deck seat. But basketball is basketball. Who knows? Maybe this short season will bring me back to the NBA fold. Until then, we are just three short months from college hoops’ March Madness.
Thought of the Day
Where does the money go that DC saved for snow removal this year if we don’t use it?