Truth About It.net’s Guide to the Best of Wizards & #SoWizards in 2013 | Truth About It.net

Truth About It.net’s Guide to the Best of Wizards & #SoWizards in 2013

By
Updated: January 3, 2014

2013 came and went, but like an oversized gallstone (aren’t they all?), it has not yet passed from the collective memory of the TAI team. Turns out, some Wizards are worth holding on to, even as the new year beckons us forth, to .500 and hopefully beyond.

Washington Wizards Girls_AFP

Best Win/Worst Loss of 2013

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

Best win: March 23, 2013. Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard were healthy and in the starting lineup (for just the sixth time that season). That Lakers lineup, full of future Hall of Famers, stormed to an 18-point lead in the third quarter. But the Wizards, instead of rolling over, clawed their way back and seized a 98-97 lead from the old guys with 1:23 left in the game.

The Wizards ended up winning, 103-100. While Ariza received a lot of attention after the game (he made a career-high seven 3s), TAI had even more praise for John Wall. Here’s the reaction from Kyle Weidie:

“Ten of Wall’s 24 points and six of his career-high 16 assists came in the fourth quarter … in crunch time.

“After the game Wall said he was playing at his highest confidence level since AAU ball. It definitely showed. He controlled that game. Sure, the Lakers are struggling with defense on the season, but that doesn’t take away from Wall maneuvering and manipulating them like he did. My favorite play came when the Wizards took their first lead of the game. Wall duped Kobe into thinking his jet-quick jump pass was going to Nene at the free throw line. Nope, it went to Trevor Ariza in the right corner. Splash. In addition to the 10 points he scored in the fourth, Wall had a hand in 17 points in the final 12 minutes via his passing. Clutch.”

The win gave the Wiz Kids the fifth-best record in the East (20-15) since Wall returned from a knee injury on Jan. 2.

Sure, the team was still 25-43, but HOPE. Contract extensions for everyone!

Grainy Highlights:

The worst loss?

That came this 2013-14 season. Y’know, that time the Wiz took just the classiest of beatdowns in Alamo City. Everyone expected it, not least because the Wizards coming into the game had lost 13 straight against the Spurs in San Antonio by an average of 17.4 points.

The Wizards shot 36 percent, but in the end fell to the camo-clad Spurs by just 13 points. It felt more like 30.

The Spurs shot better than 50 percent, carried by Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, and … Boris Diaw, who scored 15 points on eight attempts. No Spurs player saw more than 26 minutes of action, because a merciful Coach Pop emptied his bench midway through the fourth quarter. (Merciful? Or confident that the Wizards are still the Wizards and had zero chance of coming back?)

Martell Webster commented that San Antonio (8-1) made Washington (2-6) look like a chicken with its head cut off: clueless, doomed. And, of course, Nene was compelled to call out John Wall and Bradley Beal for playing for stats: “Our young guys must take their heads out their butts and play the right way, because I’m getting tired of this.”

If you must relive this painful performance, you can do so here.


 

Best Quote 0f 2013

Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

With the exile of some of the more quotable Wizards of yore (McGee’s “Can’t say I do” stands out among the glut of bloggable quips), 2013 began with the team trading the occasional absurdist belly-laugh (see: Jordan Crawford’s “Who else gon’ shoot” and many, many others) for improved play and a more “professional” atmosphere. But in the months that followed, the banality of professionalism was not fully realized. There were still quotes to be had! Indeed, Nene calling Gortat his “soul mate,” Martell claiming he wouldn’t haze Otto Porter because Zach Randolph and Darius Miles used to dunk him headfirst into ice tubs, Gortat calling the Knicks’ front line “puppies,” and now-visitor Nick Young saying that booing players is just what fans in Washington do … all of these moments were considered during my deliberation for this prestigious honor. But the award goes to Kevin Seraphin, who gave a surprising answer to a seemingly innocuous question on Wizards Media Day regarding his pet milksnake, Snakey.

“I don’t have Snakey anymore, actually. Want me to tell you the truth? Like, I just came home one day, and he wasn’t in his cage, so he must have escaped.”

WHAT?! You can see the full conversation here, but word spread quickly, and Seraphin would later be grilled by Monumental Network’s Casey Phillips regarding the disappearance. It was one of those moments where you realize its not just your rampant homerism and obsession with wriggling through every sordid detail and quote given by members of this team, and that there really is some sort of centrifugal force pulling eccentric NBA players towards the Wizards locker room. The story also broke through on a national level, as almost every basketball-spinning outlet picked up some aspect of the No. 1 revelation of Wizards Media Day 2013.

Honorable mention (and I’d be remiss without sending off J-Craw in style) goes to this bitterness-drenched and more-than-a-little delusional comment from Jordan Crawford, made in a conversation with the Washington Post‘s Michael Lee.

“If they would’ve accepted what I was doing, plain and simple,” Crawford said, when asked what could’ve kept him in a Wizards uniform. “I put in the work. Nobody else doing what I’m doing. I could’ve won them more games and that’s what they wanted from me; I think they wanted me to be Superman a little bit. But if I put up a triple-double trying to get them a win and you come in and blame the whole game on me, you know what time it is. You see what it is.”

I know what time it is, J-Craw. That’s how it always go. Thanks for the memories.


 

Most #SoWizards Moment of 2013

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

The intent of the #SoWizards hashtag is, in essence, a mere exclamation of exasperation. “#SoWizards” does not have to carry a negative connotation, but could (would?) we have it any other way?

In San Antonio, for instance, #SoSpurs might mean excellent ball movement. Instances like Gregg Popovich’s Spurs are, of course, extremely rare, if not one-of-a-kind. Most every other team is So… something (that shall be undesired, usually—think of Portland’s “Jail Blazers” of yore as a related example). At least most NBA teams have achieved the extremely undesirable in history of recent memory (which is why the Spurs are the exception: they’ve been good for as long as most can remember). #SoHeat, in their winning dominance, might mean hubris, excess, early-exiting Miami fans being locked out of a Game 6 comeback victory, and an article about LeBron getting paid to host parties celebrating himself getting whisked away from the Internet. (All seemingly negative concepts.)

#SoWizards isn’t malicious. It’s fatalism. Boys will be boys, Wizards gotta Wizard. It’s a way to excuse, with charm, the inexcusable. Or at least #SoWizards is a search for comic-relief sustenance amidst bad basketball, for an escape from losing and the sometimes unavoidable (but often avoidable) actions that lead to such. We kid because we love. We #SoWizard because we are.

It’s with this roundabout intro that we present the #SoWizards moment of 2013. It could’ve been anything—a play, an injury, an irreverent quote from a ghost of #SoWizards past. For us, it’s when Randy Wittman decided to say one magic word: Fuck.

The Wizards put up quite the stinker in this season’s home opener, their second game of 2013-14 after losing on the road in Detroit to start. The team—coaching staff and players—presumably put in the necessary work via pre-training camp mini-camp, actual training camp, and the preseason. Yet it was inattentiveness to defense, of all things, that sparked the post-game F-bomb from Randy.

“A commitment to playing fucking defense, that’s what it is. That’s what it boils down to.”

Wittman’s press conference after his team lost to Philadelphia lasted two questions and barely two minutes. In most cases, good defense only requires hustle and attention, and when Randy’s Wiz Kids gave no courtesy to such, he wanted to get their attention. He did … while costing himself a $20,000 fine from the league in the process.

Washington’s coach probably doesn’t make many ducats in comparison to some of his contemporaries. And this season, he is coaching for his life—he might not see NBA head coaching money ever again. (And he probably won’t command the big bucks should the Wizards decide to retain him after this season.) Twenty stacks means a lot to Randy, and the fact that he had to pay a literal price just to get his team to play defense is… #SoF-ingWizards.


 

Anti-#SoWizards Moment of 2013

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

To the chagrin of hypothetical and hyperbolic team-builders, the Wizards won games at the end of the most recent lost season. The #SoWizards Spring, one might say, when they shoot NBA draft lottery odds in the foot. (Even if winning in vain meant that the likes of John Wall and Bradley Beal were acquiring know-how that has equipped them for present day, and future, success.)

Last season the Wizards were swept by the Detroit Pistons, 4-zip. Despite such, both teams finished tied for the seventh-worst record in the NBA at 29-53. Lottery odds in these tie-breaking instances come down to coin flips, not head-to-head match-ups or any other game-related scenario. To add perceived insult to injury, Detroit won the coin flip versus Washington, ranking them seventh in the lottery with ever-so-slightly better odds to jump up in the draft. Instead, the Wizards were the ones who jumped up in the draft. It was the anti-#SoWizards moment of 2013.

The Wizards jumped from eighth to third overall in the 2013 NBA Draft and they had a 3.5 percent chance to do so. It was only the third time ever, in Washington lottery after Washington lottery (20 lotteries, to be exact), that the franchise has jumped up to a better pick. In 2001, the Wizards, with the NBA’s third-worst record, had a 15.7 percent chance of jumping up to get the first overall pick. They did and selected Kwame Brown. In 2010, the Wizards, ranked fifth in lottery odds, had a 10.3 chance to land No. 1. They did and selected John Wall. Now, Otto Porter.

How Young Simba #Slenderman Porter ends up faring in the NBA notwithstanding, lottery odds have traditionally tormented the Washington franchise. The Theodore Unit’s Wiz Kids getting their least probable success in NBA draft pick positioning seems very anti-#SoWizards.

(So, no, the fact that they landed a top 3 pick in a weak draft does not actually qualify for an instance of #SoWizards.)


 

Best Positive Pixels of 2013

Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

Nene, Wall Soaring for Revived Wizards,” ESPN.com, by Kyle Weidie

With all respect due to “Roni,” whose Twitter timeline is a veritable tapestry of positive pixels, the best positive pixels of 2013 came from TAI’s very own (sorry, boss) Kyle Weidie, whose article on Wall, Nene, and the unveiling of these Wizards was the lead story for ESPN’s NBA coverage on the day it was published. The article was published after Washington’s 116-111 win over the Lakers, broadcast “nationally” over NBA TV on Nov. 26. Wall was masterful, scoring 31 points and tallying nine assists while shooting 10-for-18 from the floor and drawing enough contact to justify an 11-for-12 night at the free throw line.

On the rarity of its promoted national platform alone (ESPN recently canceled Washington’s only remaining game on the national docket) this article was in contention, but the balanced perspective and quiet knowledge packed into the between-lines spaces made this article a special moment for me, and for many other fans of the team who look forward to consuming good Wizards writing from an increasing amount of national talent. Long-suffering Washington basketball fans who also click things on the internet and faithfully scour the ESPN mothership for Wizards-based sportswriting were finally rewarded with an article about something other than how one of their players ran the wrong way on the court or how one of their players … guns … in-flight gambling … blah, blah, blah.

Honorable mention goes to a series of Grantland interviews with Washington players, beginning with the March 11, 2013, piece on John Wall, followed by the April 1, 2013, piece on Bradley Beal, and the most recently posted conversation with Nene, all of which contain gems, and all of which are spurred on by Zach Lowe’s continued interest in and knowledge of the team.


 

Most Negative Pixels of 2013

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

Jason Reid’s June 2013 tattoo rant in the Washington Post, by unanimous decision.

The gist: John Wall once said he didn’t want tattoos, but changed his mind and got inked, and that is—for reasons never made quite clear—a BIG problem.

The argument: In Reid’s world, only the best basketball players like LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant can have tattoos AND max contracts: “Even if Durant had tattoos all over his face, the Thunder would have offered him a maximum extension. He’s that good.”

Reid said Wall’s business tats were a clear indication that he “decided let his guard down because it seems he’s about to get paid.”

“Maybe he believes he has arrived,” Reid wrote. “He hasn’t. He’s coming off a season in which he didn’t play until January because of an injured left knee. And while he showed flashes of being an improved scorer, he’s hardly a proven commodity.”

Buyer beware, he warned. Wall is not worth max money, he chided. Reid then praised “old-school floor general” Mike Conley Jr. (who has tattoos) and “one-man fast break” Ty Lawson (also tatted) for being better players, and safer bets, which was as ridiculous then as it is now, in hindsight.

The best of the worst: “The Wall situation almost makes you feel sorry for Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld.”

Months later, Wall is playing the best basketball of his life with his tattoos. He’s probably the best point guard in the Eastern Conference with his tattoos. He’s arguably a top 5 point guard in the NBA with his tattoos. “If John Wall isn’t an All Star, they need to cancel the damn game,” Dave Zirin, senior editor of The Nation, recently chirped on Twitter.

Imagine how good Wall would be WITHOUT his foul ink. Or better yet, don’t, and forget this ever happened.


 

Best Dunk of 2013

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

The Wizards don’t have any great dunkers… Sure, Trevor Booker can jam. Yes, Martell Webster can throw it down. Euro-stash Tomas Satoransky has won dunk contests on the other side of the Atlantic. And, provided there are no defenders in his airspace, Jan “Airwolf” Vesely might look a little bit like Blake Griffin in transition. HOWEVUH, there is no one on Washington’s roster that gets people buzzing. There will be no fan campaign to “get our guy in the dunk contest!” But Wiz watchers still saw some solid stuffs in 2013.

My favorite? Nene’s rim-rattler over Birdman-Birdman last season, which won the International NBA League Pass Play of the Day:

 

Runner-up? John Wall’s 360° on Nov. 26, a SportsCenter Top 10 highlight:

 


 

Best Assist of 2013

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

Easy. That time the Game Changer found Kevin Seraphin (!) for a two-handed flush, after breaking Ish Smith’s ankles with a behind-the-back crossover. From Jan. 2013:


 

Best Grunfeld of 2013

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)

Emeka Okafor’s injured neck caused a major hole in the Wizards front court. The preseason proved that backups were not capable to fill ‘Meka’s void. If Washington was going to go on a playoff run, they needed to make a move. Washington traded a top 12 protected 2014 first-round pick and Emeka Okafor for Marcin Gortat, Kendall Marshall, Malcolm Lee, and Shannon Brown. (Marshall, Lee and Brown were subsequently waived.) I was less sanguine about this deal because I hate giving up draft picks for a one-year rental, and this upcoming draft is potentially loaded. My initial assessment was incorrect.

Where would this team be without Gortat? The Polish Hammer has appeared in every game, has allowed Nene to play his more natural 4 spot, and his outspoken candor is refreshing in a league full of hollow clichés. He has provided enough defensive toughness and rebounding. He can knock down the open shot, and his ability to pick-and-roll with Wall makes him a solid offensive weapon. Gortat has formed a needed bromance with Nene and has displayed a willingness to call the Brazilian out for his diva ways (i.e., playing when he’s not 100 percent).

There is still a possibility that this move could backfire on the Wizards if the season goes downhill again, but Gortat solidified the starting five and helped make it one of the most competitive units in the NBA.


 

Top 10 #WittmanFaces of 2013

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

Where would Wizards Twitter be without #WittmanFace? After all, the hashtag has made a Washington Post article. It’s what we call officially official. So in honor of the hashtag, but more importantly in honor of the man, the figure, the face, the expression, we present our Top 10 #WittmanFaces of 2013, along with paraphrased inner-thought Wittman emotional commentary and the date when said face took place.

#10)

The Curiosity of Hunger.
//
You catch more bees with honey, flies with an open mouth.

Last seen:
Feb. 27 in Detroit, MI, in a 95-96 loss to the Pistons.

2013-wittmanface-10-wizards

#9)

Stoic in Losing.
//
I am as unsure about what I am watching as what I want to have for dinner three months from now.
//
Will Ferrell playing George W. Bush.

Last seen:
Oct. 30 in Detroit, MI, in a 102-113 loss to the Pistons.

2013-wittmanface-09-wizards

#8)

A “Pain is Love” tattoo on your inner bottom lip

Last seen:
Jan. 18 in Denver, CO, in a 112-108 win over the Nuggets.

2013-wittmanface-08-wizards

#7)

The Sweet Joy of the Release.

Last seen:
Jan. 7 in Washington, D.C., in a 101-99 win over the Thunder.

2013-wittmanface-07-wizards

#6)

Cock back the handle and pull the trigger… I dare you.

Last seen:
Feb. 13 in Detroit, MI, in a 85-96 loss to the Pistons.

2013-wittmanface-06-wizards

#5)

Ain’t that a Bitch.

Last Seen:
Nov. 1 in Washington, D.C., in a 102-109 loss to the 76ers.

2013-wittmanface-05-wizards

#4)

Yearning, Passion, Destiny… Will you justify my love?

Last seen:
Jan. 4 in Washington, D.C., in a 113-115 double-OT loss to the Nets.

2013-wittmanface-04-wizards

#3)

Happiness is incomplete without sadness.

Last Seen:
Nov. 22 in Toronto, Canada, in a 88-96 loss to the Raptors.

2013-wittmanface-03-wizards

#2)

Angelic Wanderer, the sound-sleeper.

Last seen:
March 22 in Los Angeles, CA, in a 103-100 win over the Lakers.

2013-wittmanface-02-wizards

#1)

So Very Fucking Wizards.

Last seen:
March 18 in Charlotte, NC, in a 114-119 loss to the Bobcats.

2013-wittmanface-01-wizards


 

Best Hashtag of 2013

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)

No other Wizard embraces social media like Kevin Seraphin, so the native of French Guiana’s Twitter tagline has to be the answer for this category. (John Wall flashing #5Deep doesn’t do it for me.) First, it started out as #KevinSeraphinLife, then morphed to #SeraphinLife before finally settling on #KSlife. What does #KSlife entail? Skeletons, little people, segways, puppies, selfies, reptiles, rapping, wearing Wiz hats, and flying toy helicopters. It also includes having two sidekicks named Lucky Righty and Coach Sebmorin, along with a little brother, Steve. It includes never turning down an opportunity to update #WizardsTwitter about his daily activities. For 2014, #KSLife better become more consistent on the basketball court or its life in D.C. might be coming to an end.


 

Best Tweet of 2013

Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

It was a good year for Wizards tweets and tweeters. In the last two months alone, we’ve been blessed with Sean Fagan’s “Otto Porter, Superstar” fan fiction series, Marcin Gortat’s irony-laden “frustraded” (because he was “frustraded” for, amirite?) tweet, Gortat’s blowjob retweet (clearly he gives right around zero fucks), and TAI Twitter recaps of every Wizards game played this season, which I’m under moral, ethical, and contractual obligation to mention.

But this award goes to a Twitter moment wracked with catharsis and fueled by #SoWizards brain conditioning, after expectations of playoff-level play were drug through the turbid wake of the early season like a kid holding on to his waterski handle long after he’s fallen flat on his face. It probably comes as no surprise to you, reader, that I should hand this award to our sad community’s most consistently “er-u-dite” tweeter, but the brilliance of the series and staying power of the concept was enough to bring a head-shaking smirk to my slowly wrinkling, perpetually scowling (and soon to be wreathed in grey, I’m sure) face even as the Wizards made me look like a fool, again, by starting 2-7.

The Wizznutzz (@wzzntzz) transposed Walt Whitman’s (somewhere, a college freshman asks “do you get the double entendre?”) “I Hear America Singing” into a melody far more appropriate for D.C. basketball background music, and generated a transportable new meme in the process. The title of the series was “I Hear a Moan.”



 

Best Instagram(s) of 2013

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)

The Wizards traveled to Brazil for an October exhibition game against the Chicago Bulls. It was billed as a potential homecoming for Nene, which turned out poorly after he was booed before and during the contest. Nene was respected for being a NBA pioneer, but Brazilian basketball fans have built up resentment towards Nene for ducking several editions of their national team competition over the years (including 2013′s FIBA Americas tournament, although he did play for Brazil at the 2012 London Olympics).

Washington’s preseason trip was a team-bonding experience. They visited several famous sites around Rio, like the shanty town favelas and the Christ the Redeemer statue. Wiz players were snapping and sharing pictures all over the interwebs. The most significant picture took place when the team gathered on a beach and decided to pose while wearing the hoods of their sweatsuits. Martell Webster added this caption to his Instagram posting: “All Love for Trayvon.” It was nice to see the team display solidarity regarding a sad ordeal that gripped the country in 2013.

2013-wizards-in-brazil-al-harrington-bucketz7

[via instagram.com/bucketz7]

2013-wizards-in-brazil-john-wall

[via instagram.com/john_wall]

2013-wizards-in-brazil

[via instagram.com/martellwebster]

Honorable Mention:

Trevor Ariza posted three video clips on Instagram of him lip synching to R. Kelly. I put the videos together and have now nicknamed him T.Kelly.

 


 

Best Jan Vesely of 2013

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)

Jan Vesely made a rather hilarious, and perhaps odd, video in the summer. The Washington Post‘s Dan Steinberg described the production quite well:

What follows is a madcap adventure, occasionally starring Vesely’s actual body and often starring representations of Vesely’s two-dimensional face, set to the strains of the Beastie Boys, in which someone is distributing Vesely masks, and apparent criminals are wearing them, and apparent detectives are apprehending them, and apparent brains are melting, gently melting into a fondue of sensations, in which trumpet blasts are lovingly spread over soft bread, a brassy aioli that tickles, oh so humorously, as it resonates and trembles on top of its yeasty bed.


 

Best Vine of 2013

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)

Seraphin has a new friend who goes by the nickname “Dwarf Mamba.”

Evan Eckenrode is Dwarf Mamba, a 16-year-old from Smithsburg, MD, and he is called a Vine celebrity, a title naturally worthy of Seraphin’s respect and admiration as he works towards the same.


 

Most Avuncular Blog Post 0f 2013

Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

Hammer Time,” Ted’s Take, by Ted Leonsis

Ted’s Take … oh, Ted’s Take. You don’t go there for stunning insights into the majesty and genius of the AOL CD-ROM mailing campaign, or to keep your finger on the pulse of the latest movies added to SnagFilms. If you are visiting Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis’ blog, you’re probably there for his thoughts on his professional sports teams, disseminated via a Twitter account that is dedicated to: 1) linking, without comment, articles from his own blog; and 2) following, like the lidless eye of Sauron, many of the bloggers you know, love, and hope aren’t assassinated in their sleep after “crossing the line” on #MaynorTime photoshops.

This particular post, ostensibly inspired by a close reading of a Mike Wise column on Marcin Gortat, wins the “most avuncular” award via its adept glossing over of years of ineptitude in an effort to rebrand the last four years of painful basketball as a mechanism to trade for Gortat, Nene and Ariza. Just like your favorite cool uncle’s failure to mention all of the slumming and the nights of tears and existential terror in between times he met this “hot little thing with legs for days,” this blog post has a way of flattening the bad times into a perfectly-paved autobahn which you can feel free to drive over at high speed. Take it away, Ted:

“Basically – Arenas (no longer in NBA) for Lewis. Lewis (now in Miami) for Ariza and Okafor. Okafor (on IR and traded to Phoenix ) with a conditional pick, for Gortat.

Nene from Denver for McGee (out with a stress fracture).

Nene, Gortat and Ariza all in starting line up for Wizards.”

Yeah, “basically.”