Key Legislature: Wizards 93 at Raptors 95 — A Black Cloud Descends | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 93 at Raptors 95 — A Black Cloud Descends

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Updated: February 12, 2015

Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 54 versus the Raptors in Toronto,
via Sean Fagan (@McCarrick) from Brooklyn.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Sean Fagan.

 

At some point during the long slog of the NBA season a narrative will emerge for the team you have decided to commit your time and passion to. The most common narratives have to do with X’s and O’s—“our team is not physical enough,” or “we play shoddy defense,” or “Player X always kills us.”

Sometimes a simple narrative can be a defining one, such as “Player X is injured, our chances are sunk.” This one opens a cruel black box of emotion that many Wizards fans are familiar with after undergoing the psychic pain of watching key players break at crucial moments.

Other narratives like “Player X may have done a terrible thing not related to the basketball court” are rarer but can have have lasting import both for the team’s success that season and the lasting legacy of a franchise.

The most important aspect with these narratives is how a team adapts to the narrative as it develops. How does a team address its weaknesses? How does it handle prolonged success? Is there flexibility built within to allow a team to pivot for all the twists and turns? Normally the narrative plays out over time, and it is only in hindsight that one can identify the turning point on which success or failure hinged.

However, it is rare that the several narrative threads that weave themselves throughout the season tie together on one evening and make a profound statement about the state of a team. In the chilly environs of Toronto, the dark portents of the Washington Wizards’ past few seasons manifested themselves over the course of 48 minutes. Torments of the past and present revealed themselves to the Wizards throughout the evening—like some twisted versions of The Ghost of Christmas Future to point out the failures and missteps of the franchise. The sigils became apparent even before tip off and became more dire as the evening progressed.

To wit:

  • An unusually somber Phil Chenier in his pre-game notes during shootaround discussed how the Wizards “stressed sharing the ball and unselfish play” and that “not one player was going to win the game.”
    (Ghost One—Hero Ball.)
  • Chris Miller’s first segment noted that many fans are reluctant to “embrace the Wizards” because of the continual failure to topple superior squads, denoting a trust issue.
    (Season Narrative—The Wizards can’t beat good teams.)
  • Nene started the game aggressively, dominating on both ends of the floor, only to disappear in the second half.
    (Season Narrative—Predictability.)
  • Phil Chenier noted with as much ire as he can muster—which isn’t much—that the Wizards are offensively stagnant. Shots fired.
    (Season Narrative—Predictability.)
  • Lou Williams entered the game and proceeded to go pyrotechnic on the Wizards which has happened every year for the 10 years Williams has been in the league
    (Ghost Two—Vulnerability to long-range sniper.)
  • Bradley Beal’s injury was briefly discussed and his timetable for recovery remains “undetermined.”
    (Ghost Three—The Wizards medical staff inspires fear and terror.)
  • The Wizards opened the game 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
    (Season Narrative—Lack of long-range shooting.)
  • After one nice dunk off a lob from John Wall, Otto Porter looked helplessly ineffective starting at shooting guard. He proceeded to finish the night 2-for-6 from the field and missed all three of his 3-point attempts.
    (Franchise Narrative—Lack of player development.)
  • Andre Miller was praised for his hard-nosed defense by Phil Chenier, which led to Miller being torched by Lou Williams off the dribble for another trey.
    (Season Narrative—Wizards are too damn old.)
  • Despite the injury to Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair remained stapled to the bench.
    (Season Narrative—WTF Rotations.)
  • Garrett Temple—GARRETT TEMPLE—was shown having a heated argument with Randy Wittman on the bench after Kevin Seraphin lost his man on defense.
    (Ghost Three—Dysfunction.)
  • The Wizards held a 10-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, only to cough it up immediately to a bevy of long-range bombs from the likes of Greivis Vasquez.
    (Ghost Four—Giving up big leads.)
  • With 8 seconds left on the clock and the Wizards trailing by two points, the Wizards used an entire possession to set John Wall up to take an ill-advised, but entirely necessary, 3-pointer to win the game.
    (Season Narrative—Poor late-game management.)

Quick digression. There is a type of performance called Storytelling in which an individual is given 8-to-10 minutes to tell a story on stage and elicit a reaction from an audience. The key to a successful performance is that by the time the tale has come to a close, the Storyteller should have been changed fundamentally by the experience. Otherwise, it is just an anecdote.

I bring up this type of performance because the Wizards appear to consider the flaws and frustrations of both seasons past and present as anecdotes and not situations from which the team can learn to adapt. One can tell the same story repeatedly about how the team stubbornly refuses to adjust its offensive sets, broadcasts contrary information about the health of its players and continues to fall short against superior teams, but unless something is done within the organization to address these issues, there will be no narrative growth within the team or the organization. It was how the meme #SoWizards was born, because expectations have been ratcheted so far down that it is impossible to find a way out of the emotional foxhole we have all created for ourselves.

So Chris Miller is right: people are not embracing the team, because there is a fundamental failure in growth that leads to distrust and discontent.

That doesn’t make for a great story. At least not one I would want to listen to.

 

 

Sean Fagan on FacebookSean Fagan on Twitter
Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.