When last night's game was over, I expected to be happy. This was a terrible, terrible season, arguably the worst in franchise history, and I had to admit the games were getting a bit mundane.
But instead, I was a bit sad. Maybe it's because the team did finish so strongly considering the circumstances. Maybe it's because the growth of our young players provided some hope by the end of the year. Maybe it's because of the truly touching story of Shaun Livingston and his resurgence. But really, it was because this was a special year to interact with the people on and around the team. There are so many people that I want to thank for this season, and I wanted to spell those out here.
THANK YOU to the players for their service, their patience in dealing with the media craze all year and for finishing the season strong. I found all of them to be compelling people in their own right, but I want to give special thanks to the following players for being particularly easy to talk to: Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood, Randy Foye, Shaun Livingston, James Singleton, Al Thornton and Andray Blatche.
THANK YOU to Flip Saunders. Not just for getting through this season, but for being accessible, nuanced and complete in your answers all season. You did not coach perfectly, but nobody in this league does, and following you up close, I got a new appreciation for the types of challenges you and all head coaches have to deal with. Having been around the team for a year now, I can say that the hardest job in the NBA is to be a head coach. You're second-guessed for every decision and you have to manage a locker room setting that's just not conducive to team play. I know this season frustrated you, but you kept pushing and were always very open with me and other media members. You also provided us with some pretty great one-liners, so thanks for that.
THANK YOU to Ernie Grunfeld and other management for listening and being accessible when necessary.
THANK YOU to the Wizards' PR team of Brian Sereno, Darren Jenkins, Steve McMenamin and Scott Hall. Thank you to being so open to letting bloggers like myself in to cover the team, and thank you for being so accepting of us while we did it. Thank you also for always carrying yourself in a upstanding, professional matter in a season where doing that was very, very difficult.
THANK YOU to the other writers and media personalities that cover this team on a regular basis. You guys went out out of your way to be welcoming when many other mainstream guys would not. In particular, I want to thank Michael Lee, Mike Jones, Chris Miller, Brian Jackson, Rashad Mobley, Jacob Bourne, Joe and Asad from Wizards Extreme, Craig Stouffer, Dave Johnson, Andrew Rosen of Wizards.com and former Times writer John Mitchell, freelancing for NBA.com these days.
THANK YOU to all the bloggers across the NBA blogosphere. You know you you are. A special thanks to the SBNation.com team for being as awesome as they are.
THANK YOU to Kyle Weidie of Truth About It for always being a trusted friend and colleague, as we both figured out how to best use our credentials for the first time. If you aren't reading Truth About It every day, you really should.
Finally, and most importantly, THANK YOU to all you guys for making this such a great community. You are the ones that power this place, and you are the ones that make it the kind of place it is. Not me, you. We suffered through a difficult year, but we never turned on each other and always found a way to come back together while maintaining a very high level of discourse. I've now been able to meet a couple of you in person, and I really hope to meet more as soon as possible. We're hoping to plan some sort of meet-ups this summer, and I'll keep you posted on those.
There will be much more content on here in the coming days about this season, and there are also a couple projects I'll let you know about in the future that I'm working on to commemorate this season in a more official way, but for now, this is the space for immediate post-season reactions.