An Open Letter To The 2016-2017 Washington Wizards

First and foremost, I want to say thank you.

So thank you Washington Wizards.

Thank you so much for a season that I’ll never forget as a fan. A season that had a roller coaster of emotions. A season that started 2-8. A season that began with questions about our backcourt “disliking” each other. A season that had John and Brad sitting out back-to-backs. A season that showed John was a top tier point guard. A season where Brad got snubbed from All-Star, but let his game do the talking. A season where Otto got recognized as a sniper in this league. A season that included the greatest home stand I’ve ever witnessed as a DC sports fan, that could only be ended by the current best basketball player on the planet. A season that included a playoff berth and homecourt.

I know it ended in heartbreak, and I can’t even imagine what you guys as players go through. I won’t say time heals all wounds, because I’m ready to punch a wall when I lose in online video games against average players. I can recall a game I played years ago and still be angry about a decision I made. What I can say is that you’ve done more for this city and basketball than you can imagine. You’re helping make DC into a basketball town, and that’s something so incredibly special.

I remember the shame after the Gilbert Arenas era. I remember being MJ’s retirement tour. I remember getting consistent trash talk for drafting Kwame Brown (there really is no comeback to “your team drafted Kwame Brown”). I remember being called the Washington Generals constantly. I remember people saying there is no homecourt advantage at Verizon Center.

You guys changed all of that. Instead of shame, there was hope. Instead of a retirement tour, you were young guns entering their prime. John, Brad, Otto, and even Kelly(kinda) were all drafted by this team. You guys did moves that made looked like the Globetrotters clowning the Generals.

Courtesy of TheRinger

Most importantly, you brought homecourt back to DC. I’ve been to my fair amount of games in my lifetime. I’ve never felt a crowd so electric as I did in my trips to the Verizon Center this year. Every dunk was met with an explosive cheer. Every hustle play highlighted by thunderous clapping. Every beautiful crossover complimented with a collective “oooooooh”. Every three splashed was met with a deafening DEE CEE THREEEEEEEEE. You guys made basketball more important than free Chic-Fil-A sandwiches (and we all know how good the sandwiches are). I don’t think any DC basketball fan can thank you enough for that.

If you’re still reading, I’d like to talk to some players.

Daniel Ochefu/Chris McCullough/Sheldon Mac/Trey Burke

You guys cheered like hell, and I know you gave the starters great practice and competition. I look forward to seeing more of you guys.

Tomáš Satoranský(Sato)

I hope you had fun in your first season in the NBA Sato. I hope we get to see more of those pogo stick legs as you develop for the Washington Wizards.

Ian Mahinmi

Ian, a lot will be said about the money we spent, and things like that, but just get healthy and play a full season for us and prove otherwise.

Brandon Jennings

A late season addition, but appreciated help at the backup PG spot. Not to mention a dope article on the ThePlayersTribune.

Jason Smith

JSmoove, the midrange GOAT, are just a couple of names we came to know you by. You became a fan favorite quick, and you absolutely deserved it. A true professional, in every sense of the word. Thank you for knocking down some key jumpers and making hustle plays.

Bojan Bogdanović

Bojangles, Bo Buckets, Bogdonaswish, Bogie, the Croation Sensation, Olympic Bojan, you had quite a few nicknames yourself. You came here with red hot shooting, and the fanbase instantly loved you. Thanks for raining those beautiful threes.

Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Kelly OuBAE some might say. As tenacious on defense as you are loved by women (we’ve all heard the screams when you check in the game). Continue to develop and be as good as we believe you can be. That energy you brought off the bench was key all year.

Marcin Gortat

Thanks for setting those picks and doing the dirty work no one will recognize, because they don’t show up in the stats. Thanks for dropping the hammer and energizing the crowd.

Markieff Morris

A lot of people weren’t down with the trade we made to get you. This year you showed them you were worth it, and it wasn’t just all about the stats you put up. Thank you Keef for going to bat any time someone would get in a teammate’s face. Thanks for providing a bucket down low when we needed it most, and never backing down. Thanks for being the enforcer, and I think every Wizards fan is now #TeamFOE.

Otto Porter, Jr.

I remember the night you were drafted and watching your college highlights. I was so excited about your midrange game and defense. I remember reading a story about how you bought a sandwich for a homeless man then sat to eat with him and thinking “Wow, this is a big difference from the days of Andray Blatche and Nick Young”.

Then your rookie season was derailed by injury. Then you got a little lost in the team rotation because that’s the way Coach Wittman did things. Then The Truth came and mentored you a bit. Then you started last year, and showed flashes. Then this year you straight up balled. Thank you for being as good as we all knew you could be, and we know you can get even better. Thank you for playing the right way, shooting with your feet set, helping on defense, hustling for rebounds, and moving without the ball.

Fans will cite the game where you splashed threes as your biggest games this year. My favorite game of yours was against Brooklyn after all-star break. Brooklyn wasn’t even supposed to make us break a sweat but they pushed us to the brink, and they could have derailed our season losing a trap game like that. But you wouldn’t let that happen, and you chased down offensive rebound after offensive rebound, and wouldn’t let us lose. That was the epitome of an Otto Porter game.

A lot will be said about your upcoming contract, but I truly hope you will be a Washington Wizard for a long, long time. There’s something to be said about a franchise that takes care of the talent they draft.

Bradley Beal

A lot of people questioned your contract. I think it’s safe to say they’re now all bealievers(I had to). I was convinced from your first season that you were our guy. When you hit that buzzer beater in 2014 against the Orlando Magic, I knew you were the real deal. If John is the heart of this team, you’re the soul. They say that your soul is fulfilled by art, and my goodness is your game a work of art.

You didn’t want to be just a shooter, so you worked on your off-the-dribble game. You didn’t want to be just a scorer, so you worked on your facilitating. You didn’t want to just be an offensive player, so you worked on your defense. You didn’t want to just be a good player, you wanted to be a star. And you accomplished all of that, and more.

I know you can be even better, and you will be. Thank you for staying healthy and being the cold blooded assassin this team needed. Just thank you for being everything this fanbase hoped you would be, and more. I won’t say this league is yours for the taking, because nothing is given, but I know you’ll work as hard as you possibly can to be the best 2 Guard in this league. And we can’t ask any more than that.

John Wall

I don’t know what to say John. What can I say that really expresses the thanks for what you’ve done? Myself and other fans have been saying for a few years that you belonged in the top tier discussion of point guards. The WallStar. Soon to be Wall-NBA (if you’re not, the award is a sham). You’re DC’s Point God, and the heart of this team.  You’re involved in the community. A better human being than a basketball player, and you’re one of the best damn basketball players on the planet. This is your city.

We’re the same age John, and watching you grow up into the leader and player you have, has been a special thing for me. It was like watching a good friend work, grow, and achieve their goals. A lot of that has to do with your demeanor. Someone who isn’t afraid to celebrate his big shots, someone who isn’t afraid to talk trash(an elite trash talker at that) when he destroys them, and someone who isn’t afraid of the moment.

As I type this I’m smiling, because I know so many others our age feel the same. Watching you develop from a lightning quick rookie with talent to a nuanced floor general has truly been an incredible experience. From having a shaky jump shot to hitting one of the biggest shots in Washington Wizards history. From a talented PG with some turnover issues to arguably the best vision in the league. It’s been an absolute pleasure not just as a Wizards fan, but a basketball fan.

I probably don’t have to remind you where this franchise was when you were drafted. What I can tell you is how I and many others felt when we heard “With the first overall pick, the Washington Wizards select John Wall”. Excitement. Hope. A chance. It was a miracle to get a first pick in the draft in the first place, but to get the first pick in a draft where there was a generational talent available? It felt like a dream. So I know this time is tough, and a lot will be said about you in the coming weeks. But remember where this franchise used to be, and where it’s headed. And you brought us here. So thank you John. Thank you for everything.

Coach Brooks

When the Wizards hired you, I wasn’t sold right away, but I did remember your reputation about developing players. Then I read stories about you as a player, and stories about your upbringing, and it made me grow a deep respect for you as a person. And I became excited, I’ll admit that excitement was questioned a bit during our 2-8 start, but you righted the ship. You brought this team back from the brink and put them on track for one of the best seasons in this franchise’s history. Please continue to bring out the best in our players. Thank you.

Final Thoughts

A lot of people will say you’re just like all the other DC Sports teams. That you’re cursed to exit the playoffs in the second round forever. I don’t believe that for the other DC teams, but I especially don’t believe it for you. This team is young, skilled, talented, and hardworking. I know you guys will do everything you can to come back better and stronger. There will be more heartbreak, but I know there will be new things to celebrate, and that will make it worth it. I know I’ve said it a million times already, but just one more should top it off.

Thank you for this season, Washington Wizards.

P.S. Sneaking in one more thanks for being undefeated at the games me and my girlfriend attended.

P.P.S I’ll also miss Phil Chenier’s commentating dearly, and hope that there is a way he’ll stay.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A DC sports fan born in 1991, that sometimes hates the city and the traffic, but will always cheer DC sports when he can, especially the Wizards.

Hanging in the rafters one day, but hopefully a fans arms are good enough for now.

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