The Washington Wizards and The White Man
When the DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg was in Vegas, he tweeted the question:
Dan later followed up in a Sports Bog post saying:
I was asking some of the other media members who would be the answer to this question: “Mike Miller is the Wizards/Bullets best white player since…..” There was no consensus. I will keep working on this. In a purely jesting, non-offensive way.
Steinberg’s nomination of Tom Gugliotta seems like a choice with which most of Wizards nation could concur. But thinking back, the organization hasn’t exactly had a history of illustrious contributions from the white man on the basketball court.
All of this got me thinking … and research would have to respond to these thoughts.
Using Basketball-Reference.com, Google image searches, and downloading basketball media guides from many, many colleges, research is what I did … you know, in a “non-offensive way” (I suppose).
Would it be better to say ‘Caucasian’ instead of white? (Rhetorical)
My current data set only covers the previous 25 seasons (out of the 48 in franchise history). A quarter-century sounds like a good number to start with. It was also getting a bit tedious to find visual confirmation of some of the older players being white. A full franchise data set will have to wait until I find a way to access more information.
By my calculations, 34 white dudes have donned the Wizards/Bullets uniform in the past 25 seasons. This, of course, includes non-U.S. born white guys, of which there are only four: Andrew Gaze (Australia), Darius Songaila (Lithuania), Gheorghe Muresan (Romania), and Oleksiy Pecherov (Ukraine).
Ladies and Gentlemen, your complete list:
- Mark Acres
- Mark Alarie
- Steve Blake
- Brian Cardinal
- Rex Chapman
- John Coker
- Marty Conlon
- Chris Corchiani
- Dave Feitl
- Matt Fish
- Andrew Gaze
- Tom Gugliotta
- Joe Kopicki
- Christian Laettner
- Tim Legler
- Don MacLean
- Jim McIlvaine
- Kevin McKenna
- Tom McMillen
- Gheorghe Muresan
- Jay Murphy
- Alan Ogg
- Mike O’Koren
- Oleksiy Pecherov
- Cherokee Parks
- Mike Peplowski
- Brent Price
- Mark Price
- Kevin Pritchard
- Doug Roth
- Jeff Ruland
- Scott Skiles
- Darius Songaila
- Bob Thornton
Ok great, but how much did these white guys actually see the floor?
The line chart below reflects the percentage of white player games over the percentage of total player games. The 25-season per year average of total player games (meaning, the sum of all games played by all roster players within a given season) is 817.36.
Great chart, huh? However, simply playing in a game is not as accurate of a measurement as the amount of minutes a player is on the floor.
Take our buddy Alan Ogg for example. His entire career with the franchise spans over three games in ’92-93 in which he played three total minutes. Can’t say the guy didn’t take advantage of his time though … Ogg’s per 36 numbers during his time with the Bullets are off the charts: 60 points and 48 rebounds, with a PER of 67.9.
Hence, adding the percentage of white guy minutes over the total of all minutes played to the chart is a better reflection of the “quality” contribution of white people during a given season (BTW, the 25-year average of total minutes played in a season is 19,499.88).
The percentage of white minutes is greater than the percentage of white games in only six out of 25 seasons. There are only two seasons in which a white guy did not see the court at all (’99-00 and ’05-06), and in ’91-92, Rex Chapman’s 22 minutes for one game are the only white minutes accounted for.
Notice that in ’92-93, the third biggest difference in white games percentage (34.37%) over white minutes percentage (29.69%), seven white players saw the court (Mark Acres, Rex Chapman, Chris Corchiani, Tom Gugliotta, Don MacLean, Alan Ogg, Brent Price), totaling 287 player games. However, only Gugliotta and Chapman played over 1,000 minutes at the rate of more than 20 MPG.
The next season, ’93-94, is the “glory” year for white players with the franchise in the time period … if you will. It tops the 25 year span in both white player games (353), and white minutes (9,263). Gugliotta, Chapman, and MacLean each averaged over 30 minutes per game … the Bullets also won 24 games that season.
On interesting item of note, the clear spike in “whiteness” on the chart essentially coincides with the tenure of John Nash as General Manager (June 1990 – April 1996). This doesn’t really mean anything, I’m just saying.
So who is the ‘best’ Wizards white player in the last 25 years?
Below is a list of the top 10 white player seasons, ranked by PER, with the requirements of having averaged at least 20 minutes per game, and having appeared in at least 60 games. The original requirement was 70 games, but I wanted to fudge that a little to ensure that one of my all-time favorites, Rex Chapman, was included. Boy was that guy frail. In his three full seasons with the Bullets, he played in 60, 60, and 45 games respectively — hell, in his 12 NBA seasons, he only averaged 55.5 regular season games a year. Speaking of hell, he played in 666 total regular season games … MARK OF THE DEVIL!.
I believe I’m digressing …
Hey, look at that Gheorghe Muresan guy … his name appears three times in the top 10, his ’95-96 Most Improved Player season leading the way (Don MacLean’s ’93-94 MIP season ranks 3rd). As for Mike Miller, his career high PER of 17.2, achieved in ’05-06, when he was Sixth Man of the Year, would only land him in sixth place.
So that seals it. Combine Muresan’s stats with the fact that he’s still very prevalent around the D.C. area, often seen at Wizards games and working with the team in the community, and he, not Tom Gugliotta, is the Wizards’ best/greatest white player in the past 25 years.