Has a franchise ever been at a crossroads like the Washington Wizards? As some analysts predicted Washington to compete for a fourth seed this season, no NBA team has fallen further from expectations. That should be enough. Now, the once face of the team has been cast aside, partially due to his irresponsibility in bringing guns into the locker room and partially due to his resulting immature treatment of a serious situation.
Antawn Jamison is the consummate veteran, a Gentleman, as goes his nickname. Caron Butler is the during-game straw chewing guy, former mass consumer of Mountain Dew who arose from 15 arrests before 15 years on this earth to make the NBA, one whom his former coach Eddie Jordan nicknamed, “Tough Juice.” Gilbert Arenas was once the guy who went to Barry Farms, D.C.’s equivalent of Rucker Park, by himself sans entourage just because he liked being around regular people. All three of these massive basketball figures in the Nation’s Capital — each playing a role in the four-year playoff run that resuscitated basketball in the DMV, are on the verge of being set afloat down the Potomac.
Now, one is making vain attempts for a team wrought with futility. Another only provides waning memories of a past All-Star self. A third has created an unfathomable situation, with pranks, guns, shoe turds, and exposing the issue of guns and NBA players via the quiet, polite kid from Atlanta whom no one would expect to lock and load his own gun while singing. All could be gone by February. Question is, will management gut the house, bulldoze the structure and give everything away? Or will Ernie Grunfeld get some ‘Bubs from The Wire’-like ingenuity and receive assets in return for his valuable scrap metal. Either way, if cap room is the direction, the Wizards better hope they get lucky in the draft and overpay the right veteran free-agent, else the future is a long time away.
[This originally appeared in the January 15, 2010 edition of the Daily Dime on ESPN.com]