WASHINGTON -- Us Washington Wizards fans have come to expect the Verizon Center to be overrun by visiting fans for marquee games against teams like the Miami Heat. When the crowd roared as LeBron James' name was introduced prior to Washington's 105-101 win, we weren't really surprised.
But Martell Webster? He's new. And so, in the aftermath of his first Wizards "road" home game of the season, he had a message he wanted to convey.
"Did you guys not hear the announcements?" he asked rhetorically. "It's like, [when they called] Chris Singelton, it's like (he says yay softly). They call LeBron's name, and it's like, jeez."
A reporter finished his sentence to say, "the house came down." Then, Webster continued with the punchline.
"Tonight was an away game, and we won. We won on the road at home. Crazy."
Later, he was asked how those loud cheers for James made him feel.
"I mean, it's horrible. It's a horrible feeling. You want your fans to be loyal. You want to see more red, white and blue jerseys out there in the stands than you do the away team," he said.
Webster is hardly the first player to express his frustration at the bipartisan Washington Wizards crowd, and he certainly won't be the last. Such is the nature of being a bad basketball team in a transplant city made up of fans of all NBA franchises. But of all the players that have spoken out, Webster seemed most determined to change the narrative.
"It's not going to happen [overnight]. Rome wasn't built in a day. We have to continue to win," he said. "Next time Boston comes in here, there will be green jerseys up in here. When Chicago comes in, there will be red jerseys up in here. We have to take advantage of these games. That builds loyalty with the fans. When we do that, more times than not, they'll be roaring when our names are called instead of theirs."
The crowd's support at the end of the game proves Webster's point. In this city, you better win. But once you win happens, the crowd will come and all the build-in disadvantages of being in a melting pot of a city will fade away.
"Like I said, it starts in here," Webster said. "The core, which is us. Not letting any distractions come in here. Once you let distractions come in here, it separates us. It divides and conquers this team. We're not going to allow that to happen, ever."