Remember when this team just had to worry about Antawn Jamison’s injured shoulder and finding themselves in Flip Saunders’ offensive system? Seven wins to 10 losses seems like a pipe dream now. Wizards fans would probably even trade these times for the 2007-08 sans Agent Zero playoff season. At least hope still existed then.
Unforgiving circumstances don’t even begin to describe what has transpired around this basketball team. Saunders must employ assistant coaches just to field a 5-on-5 scouting report. Players have to leave the practice court to give testimony that could land their teammates, their friends in jail. And then to go out and perform under these circumstances? Can’t be easy. Yes, they are paid millions to play a game, but that doesn’t make it any easier to perform under such pressure.
Then again, the basketball court is supposed to be an escape, right? Most of the Wizards act like they’re stuck on Alcatraz with neither vessel nor the ability to swim. Well, with the exception of Jamision, who had 31 points (11-19 FGs) and 10 rebounds in a whopping 45 minutes. The Gentleman has been playing his 33-year old ass off and often is the only Wizard doing do. Flip Saunders feels bad for Jamison. I know because he said so. I feel bad for Jamison too, resigning myself that he, more so than Wizards fans, deserves something better.
When Mike Jones wrote, “The right thing for Wizards to do is move Jamison,” I didn’t want to accept the idea, even if in the back of my mind, I knew it was the honorable thing to do. Now I wholeheartedly agree. I would have liked to see Jamison retire in Washington and I’m sure he imagined himself doing the same. But the situation calls for both him and Wizards fans to swallow a large, bitter pill. Antawn has done as much as he could for this franchise and continues to play with unabashed pride. Of course, such mercy idealism doesn’t take away the unsettling nature of Jamison being an absolute “perfect” fit in Cleveland. Him helping the Cavs win a championship is worse than kissing your sister, it’s damn near the entire Aristocrats act.
But back to the 99-90 loss to the Pistons, it was clear from the get-go that the Wizards would have little chance of winning. “We didn’t have energy to start with. I had to call a timeout basically two minutes into the game, we had three or four guys who hadn’t really broken a sweat,” said Saunders. The coach went on to say that against a team on a losing streak is especially when his team needs to come out with energy to let Detroit know, “tonight is not going to be your night.” The Pistons had lost 13 in a row coming into Tuesday, a loss to the Wizards would have tied the franchise’s single-season losing streak record. “They get off to a 9-2 start and they think we’re going to play soft so it gives them confidence,” said Saunders.
Flip didn’t want to blame the surrounding circumstances, saying, “We may have a lot of these days here over the next month,” also mentioning he doesn’t want to use a “built-in” excuse.” Of course not. The Wizards don’t need off court issues to affect their energy because there’s been plenty of times, such as a November 28 home loss against the Charlotte Bobcats, among several others, where lackluster starts were the deciding factor. What makes it worse is that the Pistons were on the second night of a road back-to-back and got blown out 120-87 by the Chicago Bulls on Monday. The Wizards, on the other hand, had Monday off and were playing their third straight at home.
I don’t want to start tossing out the ‘Q’ word haphazardly. I suppose to give something up, you need to start doing it in the first place. Rare has been the occasion when this Wizards team has truly gone out and given it their all. The chance for more playing time isn’t a motivator. Losing isn’t a motivator. Nothing is working. The more I watch, the more accepting I am that this team needs to be shredded. For Flip Saunders’ sake (and perhaps mine), I hope there are half-decent players left to coach after the burning pieces come falling to the ground.