McGee vs. Duncan in the Phone Booth? Not going to happen. [photo: K. Weidie]
Crafty spin moves by Dirk in D.C.? Don’t count on it. [photo: K. Weidie]
The Monday after Thanksgiving, just two days after David Stern and Billy Hunter posed together in the middle of the night indicating that a handshake deal was bringing back in the NBA, I found myself face-to-face with a co-worker. Prior to that deal, this co-worker would pick my brain daily, seeing if I knew when the NBA would resume. I’d refer him to ESPN True Hoop for daily coverage, and I’d do my best to tell him to stay optimistic, but I ultimately I was just as clueless.
Speaking with this co-worker on that Monday morning, the conversation went from the lockout to who the Washington Wizards would play. Being a fan of the Dallas Mavericks, he was excited at the prospect of seeing the NBA champions in Washington on January 10th (per the old schedule). I tried to tell him that the old schedule — even the games from January on — meant nothing with the slate shrinking to 66 games, but he was convinced he would still be able to see his Mavs.
The next time I see him, I’ll have to crush him with the bad news. Dallas will not be traveling to Washington this season, along with several other NBA squads.
It’s one of the residual fan punishments from the lockout. Yes, there will be a whirlwind free agency period, five games on Christmas Day, and even some three-peat games (Per Michael Lee’s editors at the Washington Post, we shouldn’t say back-to-back-to-back, because technically it’s impossible without an exposed front. As a result, I’m stealing the Pat Riley’s phrase). But because of the shortened schedule, there will also be disappointed fans who will be cheated out of seeing their favorite players from other teams play in the District. Unfortunately, I have the honor of pointing out those lost games.
Wizards vs Mavericks
This game was originally scheduled to be played on January 10th at the Verizon Center. Instead, the Wizards will only see Dallas in Dallas as part of a brutal six-game road trip in early March. When the Mavericks visited the Verizon Center last February, I’m sure fans appreciated seeing Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, but the bigger story was the return of former Wizards Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson. This season, Butler and Haywood could very well be on different rosters, but the Mavericks as a whole would be showing up as NBA champions. This would ideally be the type of measuring stick game a young team like the Wizards could have used to boost their confidence. As an added bonus, the Verizon center could have housed the Roddy Beaubois/John Wall match-up that never materialized last February (Beaubois played just 13 minutes). Now, they will have to watch the game on Comcast and rely on quality broadcasting of Phil Chenier and Steve Buckhantz.
And finally, what about that White House visit the Mavericks are owed as a result of winning the NBA title? Since they won’t be playing the Wizards, will they have to make a special trip before the season? Or will they visit D.C. before their February 17th game against the Sixers in Philly? Where’s Dan Steinberg when you need him?
Wizards vs Spurs
Selfishly speaking, I will miss Gregg Popovich and his, as True Hoop’s Henry Abbott says, “deny-the-premise-of-every-reporter’s-question game”. He’s the smartest guy in the room, and given that’s he’s won four NBA titles, I can’t even say I mind being antagonized once or twice in a 15 minute span. But more importantly, the Spurs omission from the Wizards home schedule means that there will be one less opportunity to see future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. Duncan is 35, he’s played 14 years, and he’s coming off a season where he averaged a career-low 17 points. There’s no guarantee he’ll be around (or healthy) for the 2012-2013 season, which makes his absence from the Verizon Center that much larger.
Wizards vs National TV
I have nothing against NBA TV — in fact during the lockout their showing of archived NBA games did an admirable job of fulfilling my insatiable appetite for NBA basketball. But the reality is that when ESPN, TNT and ABC televise a game from your city, you are reaching millions of homes, and stars like John Wall, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche, and the rest of the Wizards get national exposure. Last season the Wizards had eight nationally televised games: five on NBA TV, two on TNT, and one on ESPN. This season, despite having John Wall and NBA Slam Dunk Contest runner-up JaVale McGee, the Wizards have only four homes games on NBA TV, and none on ESPN, TNT or ABC. As fellow Truth About It writer Adam McGinnis observed on Twitter:
Reeboks gotta be pissed with no national tv love for john wall, commercials & highlights can only sell so many shoes, need games too
Wizards vs Suns
Wizards vs Hornets
The bad news? John Wall and his fans won’t get a chance to measure his game at home against an older great point guard (Steve Nash) and an in-his-prime point guard (Chris Paul). The good news? Both players could very well be traded, which means there is still a chance to see them match up against Wall later in the season. Each of the All-Star point guards thoroughly outplayed Wall as a rookie, but given what we’ve seen this summer, the outcome could turn out differently this season.
Wizards vs Grizzlies
Two years ago, if I had attempted to even begin a sentence about how disappointing it was to not see the Memphis Grizzlies, you’d stop reading and move on to Bullets Forever (and maybe you have already). But fresh off a 2011 playoff series, where Z-Bo and Marc Gasol led them over the Spurs in the first round and to a second round loss against Oklahoma City in seven games, the Grizzlies are a legitimate draw. When you throw in the fact that University of Maryland alum Greivis Vasquez, and Baltimore natives Rudy Gay and Josh Selby won’t be showing up in the Verizon Center in front of their fans, it is a disappointment.
For more on the teams that ARE on the Washington Wizards schedule, check out TAI’s latest 3-on-3.
[The author of this post: Rashad Mobley is from the Washington, D.C. area and has been covering the Washington Wizards with credentials for three years. To learn more about him click here. To follow him on Twitter: @Rashad20.]
Last time Steve Nash does this in Washington? Probably. [photo: K. Weidie]