[UPDATE: Hold on to 'Booing Blake' on this particular night; Griffin is out against the Wizards with a left hamstring strain.]
The Washington Wizards’ futility over the past four and a half seasons has had several consequences. Their games are no longer broadcast on TNT, ESPN or ABC; NBATV, sometimes. National pundits rarely discuss the team, unless they’re mocking them. NBA bloggers, many of whom became relevant around the time Gilbert Arenas was penning weekly posts for NBA.com, now associate Wizards history with the antics of JaVale McGee, Nick Young, and Andray Blatche. (The days of Gilbertology—and the playoffs—seem all but forgotten.) The Phone Booth now only sells out when fans of opposing teams buy tickets.
Another important fallout has been the loss of a true rival. Wizards fans of this generation always point to the postseason battles against the Cavs as a treasured memory. They were heated and controversial affairs—who can forget the origin of the Crab Dribble? Followers of each team genuinely disliked the other. DeShawn Stevenson and LeBron James definitely didn’t fake their disdain for one another. Even Soulja Boy, reliably relevant during the aughts, was somehow involved.
The Wizards eventually came out on the short end in their series against Cleveland, but they still had an everlasting emotional impact on the fan base. D.C. was united in its hatred of LeBron James and the Cavaliers. (For me, the name Damon Jones will forever trigger an immediate gag reflex; I imagine Boston Red Sox fans feel the same way about Aaron F’ng Boone.) But after Gil’s painful locker room flame out, the contemptuous relationship abruptly ended. With the Wizards now wallowing in NBA’s cellar, nothing has since replaced it.