I was doing some cleaning around the apartment yesterday, working on a project for Father’s Day (Happy Father’s Day to my dad all the real dads out there) and came across a clipping from the Washington Times that my pops gave me just over three years ago.
“What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been,” was Tom Knott’s proclamation of purged bad karma for DC’s pro-basketball franchise just before game one against the Chicago Bulls in the ’05 NBA playoffs. It made me think, so much of that trip was spent bonding with my dad. We probably made the trek out to Landover, MD, and then downtown to Chinatown years later, at least 175 times together, witnessing years of futility and a lone playoff game pre-2005. To pass time with my father, to follow a hometown team together, it was all worth it.
I couldn’t help but get a chuckle out of Knott’s column. The long, strange trip continues and some would argue that Wizards fans still have not been exonerated of bad karma. Is this article to remind us how appreciative we should be for a four year playoff run, or have our expectations justifiably risen to the point where wanting more supersedes being spoiled by morsels of success?
The circus acts of yore are all featured: “Nervous” Pervis Ellison, Manute Bol, Boo-nard King (is that the best picture they had?), Mel Turpin, Rex Chapman (one of my all time favorites), Rod Strickland, Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, Jerry Stackhouse, and finally Old Man Jordan.
Knott, in his typical pessimistic fashion (I’d be a hippocrite to blame him) recounts dysfunctional tales; head scratching gaffes from yesteryear which have become sources of present day comedy. The lead story of Pervis Ellison getting into an auto accident because of a DWIWGCF (driving while incapacitated with greasy chicken fingers) seems like the perfect jump-off point.
The account only gets better (or worse) from there, including:
- The reason for Ellison’s sore back: raking leaves.
- Chris Webber and his 1st quarter mean-mugging ways telling Wes Unseld that Unseld didn’t know what it was like to be young and talented.
- Jay Vincent refusing to ride a stationary bike to stay in shape because it might affect a ruptured tendon in his finger.
- Dinner Bell Mel Turpin going on the lam because he couldn’t make weight.
- The agent for John ‘Hot Plate’ Williams insisting a ‘weighed only in private’ clause be in Williams’ contract.
- A plethora of Rod Strickland stories including: hot dogs and throwing up, backwards shorts, habitual tardiness, the ‘Do you know who I am line?’ (from his alter ego, Roadside Rod), and female induced tussles with Tracy Murray.
- An overinflated Bernard King telling Wes Unseld, “I’m going to shoot you” at a 1993 practice.
- Rex Chapman missing a game while hiding in the locker room because his sister’s ex-boyfriend (an ex-NFL player – side bar below) threatened to take out Chapman’s knees so he could never play ball again.
Do you think Gheorghe Muresan and Ledell Eackles fell slighted that they weren’t included among Knott’s citations? The sample of fun under the big top has continued with tales of off-court hijinks from Gilbert Arenas and his troupe of performers. The quirkiness factor of a lighter-hearted circus has however filled the glass slightly past half full.
Where do the Wizards go from this juncture? Is the upcoming 2008-2009 season the most important in the history of this franchise? Tread water and the sense of purgatory continues. Take a step backwards and the winds of public opinion could reach the magnitude of a category five.
Wizards fans will always be on a journey with this team. From the big picture to isolated spurts such as when Gilbert Arenas chucked 9 points on 3-19 shooting in that ’05 game 1 loss to the Bulls, and then when Arenas decided game 5 with one shot. In the end, only time will tell the path’s direction. Here’s to the future bumps in the road being a necessity for achieving success, instead of a detriment to potential.
[Side Bar: The ex-NFL player was Lewis Billups, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals (good to know the Bungles have a deeper history of criminal activity than recent memory). In 1987, Billups beat up an ex-girlfriend so bad that she needed six plastic surgeries. In 1992, Billups was one of 20 Bengals accused of raping, video taping, and attempting to extort a woman out of $20K (they threatened to send the video to the woman's husband). For this Lewis Billups pleaded guilty and was given three years probation....what justice.
About a year later in 1994, the Feds recorded Billups' threats to Chapman's sister and were waiting for him at what Billups thought was a rendezvous with Jenny Chapman. Billups had a pair of brass knuckles on him when arrested. He was subsequently sentenced to a year in the joint. Not six days after Lewis Billups was released in April of 1994, he was killed in a car crash while driving over 100 mph in his corvette. No word if Billups was eating greasy chicken, but I'd say that he provided himself with a little justice. Aside from the acts described above, Lewis Billups had a despicably checkered past of violence and abuse of women, so this self imposed justice seemingly came years too late.]