Wizards New Year, Nothing Clear: The Return of John Wall
[Friday night thoughts before John Wall's scheduled Saturday debut.]
Let’s be fair to John Wall. I haven’t seen him in practice. Haven’t seen him on Ted Leonsis’ AlterG “anti-gravity” treadmill from outer space. All the Internets talk about, however, is tubby Johnny Wall. Belly full ‘o junk food, y’all. It … would be … so Wizards. Whatever the case, Wall is slated to return to action this evening. You might have heard.
So where does that put us as a team? I use “us” in the most ”It’s in the best interest of all involved if this franchise started winning” way—fans, employees, media, etc. You see, I’m no longer a ‘fan’ fan. No face painting, ra-ra, and all that crap. Never really was. I cover this team, but have been dedicated in my following since 1990. I don’t enjoy watching the Wizards lose, and sometimes I appreciate it when they win (I used to get genuinely excited about the local team coming out on top), but for the most part, I’m now just an interested observer. Yet, there’s this whole blog website that kind of goes beyond mere interest.
It’s ‘New Wizards Eve’ … if you will (again), 11 days into 2013 and 28 losses out of 33 played. At least the Mayans weren’t wizards.
“I’m going to start counting (the team’s record) in January,” a long-time member of the organization told me when the Wizards were on their way to starting the season 0-12. Sure, why not? This is what I thought at the time. And truly, it was — 5-28 records are easy to pixelate, but personal investment in the local team is enduring.
Flip Saunders, he’s emblazoned in memory. (Amongst other Wizards/Bullets-related nuggets.) You think it can’t get any worse? It’s not Flip’s fault. He was a good guy, still is. Damn good coach, too. It was the whole scene. Not just Flip. But the beleaguered coach told us not to think that it can’t get any worse, and thus we don’t.
Where were we again? New Wizards’ Eve… On the 12th, third-year player and face of the franchise, John Wall, will make his season debut. Expectations. Nerves. They are there. For everyone.
But, whoa. Chill…
Consider the entire season so far. Really consider it. No denying, it’s been pretty bad, but not asshole bad. Last season was filled with more assholes than the bottom of the fiscal cliff. Now, the team culture is different, but the losing is the same. Will it change? Stay vigilant. Stay skeptical. Because until it will, it won’t. The franchise still needs to redefine itself. “To create some highlights,” as goes Randy Wittman’s searched-for season slogan.
For now, the definition of the franchise includes John Wall belly pixels and Nene plantar pixels. It includes Honza Vesely manifesting “Dull John“ in the grandest sense, Trevor Booker making recipes from a doctor’s office cook book, Chris Singleton eating food fit for a dog house, Shelvin Mack… (where is Shelvin Mack? Thinking positive, probably), Kevin Seraphin refusing to get too close for comfort, veterans who… do I have to name them all? You get the point. These Wizards. They are… #SoWizards.
Meaningless end-o’-year carryovers never mean anything until they do. And, in Washington, they have never meant a damn thing. Until now? Who knows. But if you’re with them before, might as well be with them after. Say it, loud and proud, and don’t be a quitter. Wittman ain’t quittin’, but the coach is saying:
“[Wall] hasn’t gotten any pressure yet this year. I want him to feel some pressure. John likes pressure.”
Wherever it goes—#SoWizards—something will happen. And that something starts with Wall’s first game of the season. Maybe he eventually flexes on the league, and the pixels. Maybe roles fall into place. Maybe continued player compliance under Wittman manifests itself in talent. Maybe it all comes together.
Maybe not. These are the Wizards, after all.
But magic wands or no magic wands, it’s gotta start somewhere. Why not start right here, right now?