The Washington Wizards have a long way until they establish a clear, universal brand that fans and media can identify
[Quick Ain't Fair and this court was slick.]
. After all, the ill-conceived color-change wizard logo is still prevalent when the team is mentioned nationally, most recently evidenced by the Jason Collins coming out story and the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery. The franchise has seemingly pushed the “D.C.” logo
as ranking of the three options since the redesign launch
in the summer of 2011, but the old wizard still isn’t completely buried.
On top of the lacking national brand recognition, fans in Washington just don’t seem that dedicated, either. The Verizon Center, in what is said to be the seventh-largest U.S. television market, finished 22nd in total attendance amongst NBA franchises this past season, only slightly ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers but also better than three playoff teams: the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. Downtrodden franchises like the Orlando Magic (18th), Toronto Raptors (16th), and Portland Trail Blazers (10th) out-paced the Wizards in total attendance.
When Michael Jordan donned Wizards blue from 2001 to 2003 (sometimes inaccurately, or perhaps facetiously, called Wizards “teal”), Washington finished second and third in total attendance over each of his two seasons1. In the decade since, the franchise hasn’t finished better than 12th in the NBA in total attendance. And since last making the playoffs in 2007-08, Washington hasn’t finished better than 17th (in John Wall’s rookie season, 2010-11). Over the last five seasons, the Wizards have averaged a ranking of 20th in total attendance, which isn’t terribly bad considering that during the same time span they have fielded the NBA’s third-worst winning percentage.
[1Over 1.6 million walked through the turnstiles in Chinatown over the two seasons Jordan was making money for Abe Pollin as a player. In the past three seasons (one of them being a lockout-shortened 66 games), the arena has received 1.9 million total entries. —Attendance numbers via Basketball-Reference.com]
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