The Wizards are having a pretty miserable season this year. We have a total of two wins away from Verizon. We have 18 wins on the year and are yet again watching the standings for the wrong reasons. Cheering for teams like Sacramento and Minnesota to keep winning, and maybe even for our own guys to play well, but not well enough to win games and finish with a better record than the other garbage teams of the league. All for the sake of ping-pong balls, and the hope of landing another talented running mate for John Wall.
It is easy for me to enjoy a game where our young guys play hard and hang with a playoff bound team. Even if we don't emerge with the W, games where the team is competitive are the reasons we watch, this season. But the Miami game last night gave me a particularly unique reason to be proud. And the idea of this post is pretty much to highlight something that should give us Wiz fans some pride, amongst all of the losing.
Winning is important. No... it is imperative to being a fan. But there are some little things worth being proud of in a rebuilding season. There is dignity to be had in playing the game a certain way. Flopping, whining, and doing your best to trick the referee is not basketball. See below:
This is how a member of the Miami Heat takes an "elbow to the face". They fall on the ground, rolling around, hoping the refs blow a whistle (If you have not seen this video, Bosh does not even get touched, he is flopping, expertly....click here for a clearer view). What kind of basketball player's first thought is to pretend like he got hit, in the absence of any contact at all, in order to get a foul called? That is not a basketball player at all.
Surely by now, most of you have already seen John Wall's deadly right hook on Zydrunas Ilgauskas. But lets take another look, in contrast, at how a Washington Wizard takes not one, but two, direct, if not intentional, elbows directly in the piehole:
It is not a thing to be particularly proud of that John Wall lost his temper and bounced a punch off of Ilgauskas's ribcage. But I would take that, any and every day of the week, over a flopping, whining, crying p*ssy, who would rather deceive the ref into blowing his whistle, rather than actually play basketball and try to defend his man.
John Wall's reaction was not to grab his lip and check that it was not gushing blood. His reaction was not to stop mid play to glare at the ref in hopes that he would change what the ref saw. His reaction was definitely not to fall on the ground and roll around in fake agony, insuring an offensive foul be called. He did not even think to stop and cry to the referee. His reaction was, "I am going to take that god d*mn ball from you." and then after a second deliberate elbow in his mouth, it was, "Ok you big sonofabitch, I ain't scared of you. YOU ARE MINE."
As a fan, you inevitably will not be happy if your team loses and loses and loses. But this team will be successful again. In the mean time, we can be proud that we have players willing to play basketball like grown men. Players that won't back down from a guy nearly a foot taller than themselves. We have men like Trevor Booker, and Othyus Jeffers, and John Wall damnit. If our guys never do anything again, I will take more pride in being a fan of these guys, than anyone ever could in being a fan of a guy that skips his intro, to hide from booing fans in the locker room, or of a guy that runs to play with his two BFF's, because it is the only way he feels he has a chance to win a championship.