Gilbert Arenas’ 2005 Shot Was Cool, But These Wizards Created Some New Highlights
In September 2012, set to undertake his first full season as Wizards head coach, Randy Wittman reluctantly searched for a training camp slogan.
His predecessor, Flip Saunders, settled for hokey marketing hooks, handing out hats and T-shirts with “Our Time” (mostly known as a manta from the 1985 movie “Goonies,” or as a dating site for individuals age 50 and up) on them prior to 2009-10’s failed campaign. Flip then used “Back to Basics” as his choice slogan prior to 2010-11’s lack of success. Saunders finally refrained from such a slogan with little time to prepare before 2011-12’s disastrous, lockout-shortened season in which he was fired after a 2-15 start.
Parsing through Wittman’s obscure attempts prior to 2012-13, the best we could muster was: “Washington Wizards: Let’s Create Some Highlights.”
“Maybe next year at this time, I can have a highlight film for them to show and kickoff training camp. This team hasn’t made any highlights together. And that’s what we’re going to try to do,” Wittman concluded his press conference prior to camp. That didn’t exactly work out. With a significant season-opening injury to John Wall, the Wizards were thrown a year off track in their plans to get to the postseason (and instead ended up chasing the ninth seed in the East—it was what it was).
Gilbert Arenas’ shot to win Game 5 of Washington’s 2005 series with the Bulls, on Chicago’s home court, will always remain a fond memory in the hearts of Wizards nation—even if it wasn’t a series-winner like Damian Lillard’s recent shot against Houston, it certainly did deflate the Bulls. Chicago lost the series, 4-2, in Game 6 back in Washington. A Jared Jeffries basket broke a 91-all tie with 32 seconds left, Jannero Pargo missed a desperate 3-point heave, and then Juan Dixon made one of two free throws with 16 seconds left to put Washington up three points which a last-second 3-point attempt by Andres Nocioni could not answer.
But now, with another series win against Chicago, this time in fewer games, Washington has created some new highlights … has made some new memories to push those of yore further into the depths of the hopper. Sorry, Gilbert, your shot was cool and all, but this right here is a new, more refreshing day for the Wizards.
A couple of TAIers were polled on the most iconic moments from Washington’s 2014 Round 1 series against Chicago. Here’s what they had to say and the Vines of those plays:
Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):
With 5:30 left in the fourth quarter of Game 5, Carlos Boozer tried to score on Nene. The previously doleful, always soulful Brazilian stripped the ball, followed it as it bounced towards the boundary of the court, avoided a leap-frogging Trevor Booker, and was eventually able to save the ball to Trevor Ariza. Ariza’s outlet pass to John Wall was perfect, and then Wall reminded the Bulls why they never had a chance: he maneuvered through a recovering Joakim Noah and two very outmatched point guards (D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich) from one end of the court to the other for what was actually the game-winning layup with 5:23 remaining, putting the Wizards up 70-62.
Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis):
The most iconic play is likely the Nene and Butler dust up from Game 3, but that does that count for these purposes?
Nene made big jumpers late in Game 1 (with 2:40 left to put Washington up four), and in overtime of Game 2 (two jumpers and a dunk to personally start the extra session on a 6-0 run). Beal’s biggest shots were at end of Game 3 (seven points in about 70 seconds with just under four minutes left to give the Wiz a two-point lead, but they lost). Nene one-handed grab of the loose ball in the back court and passing to Beal for a 3 was a memorable play from Game 5. Or John Wall’s jumper to keep the Wizards up five points with 2:37 left. What about Nene shaking his head after another jumper over Noah?
But if I had to choose one, it would be Ariza’s 3 to end a stellar first half in Game 4, especially because it produced this picture:
Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace):
N/A. The beauty and strength of this team is that it is not dependent on one player or one clutch play. A different player steps up every night and from possession to possession. You cannot define one iconic play because they were all iconic plays. We Are One…
…Fine, under protest, Nene’s jumper over Noah followed by Noah’s headshake. It showed Noah—and by extension the Bulls—total and utter defeat.
Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):
Rubin’s was right. This is a team in every sense of the word, so no one moment jumps out, but…
Nene shaking down the DPOY in Game 5 (and the entire series really), and then smiling/smirking, while Noah shook his head), was pretty badass.
TAI’s Sean Fagan also concurred with Rubin and Mobley, Nene’s head-shaker is the iconic moment of these playoffs so far that buries Gilbert Arenas’ heroics just a little bit lower. I’m inclined to agree with McGinnis in that a play from Trevor Ariza in the first round deserves some credit. I guess the good thing is that whatever the choice, you can’t go wrong. But what say you?
Martell Webster on What the Wizards
Learned from the Bulls Series
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