As Wizards keep winning, Ernie Grunfeld's silent majority grows

USA TODAY Sports

With the Wizards continuing their winning ways, do the critics of the team's GM really need to eat crow?

Did you hear the news? The Wizards are winning games! You know what else that means? The I-told-ya-so crowd is out in full force.

For those fans that have bled blue, gold, white, and black for a decade and then quickly underwent a transfusion to red, white, and blue, the Wizards' success this season has been welcome, satisfying and at times surprising.

I say surprising not only because it's a change of pace from most of the rest of the decade, but also because it's happened so quickly.That's not to say the success isn't welcome or explainable. It's just that they started 5-28 just last year when John Wall was injured and now they're in the second round of the playoffs. One doesn't generally lead to the other right away.

Regardless, here the Wizards sit with a 1-0 lead over the team with the best record in the East. General Manager Ernie Grunfeld has long been maligned as the reason this team has faltered. During his 11-season tenure, the Wizards have reached the postseason only five times (this season being the fifth).

However, in three pieces this week, Grunfeld's been praised for the team's current success: once by Kevin Craft in the Atlantic (which frustratingly begins with "The District of Columbia is not a professional basketball town.") and twice by Mike Wise in the Washington Post (one of these alluded to his secret extension). The general premise: The Wizards are doing great, and Grunfeld's the reason why. He put together a stellar roster and any bump in the road along the way was just a bump.

But the past decade of Washington basketball can't be taken piecemeal. You have to acknowledge the good and the bad. You have to incorporate the winning seasons, the playoff runs, the injuries, the contracts, the draft picks, the development (or lack thereof) of those picks, the locker room incidents, the ownership change, the even trades, the lopsided trades (both in and not in Washington's favor), the amnesty provision, risks versus safe bets and the way this team somehow made pariahs out of certain players before their tenures in D.C. were over. All of it, whether favorable or unfavorable to Ernie.

No one wants to diminish anyone else's success by bringing up failures, but it's important to realize that everything -- good and bad -- in Washington since 2003 has happened under Ernie Grunfeld's tenure. And now that we know Grunfeld's staying on for another year, we have to think about what this means going forward.

I encourage you all to read Wise's, Craft's and Prada's takes on Grunfeld. Let us know what you think in the comments.

***

Oh, right! Playoffs!

  • Don't forget tonight's viewing party at the Verizon Center! From the press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Washington Wizards fans are invited to come to an open house and viewing party presented by Budweiser at Verizon Center on Wednesday, May 7 when the team takes on the Indiana Pacers for Game 2.

Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the game will be shown on the jumbotron and on the concourse at 7:00 p.m. There will be face painting, poster making stations and interactive games for fans to enjoy on the concourse. Members from the Wizards and Bullets alumni association and the Wizard Girls will be on hand to sign autographs. G-man and the Power Pack will also be in attendance to entertain the crowd.

***

More goodies:

  • Thom Loverro at the Washington Times gives a more sobering look at the Wizards' sudden success under Grunfeld. He argues that Grunfeld hasn't done enough yet and this roster needs another piece to really be successful.
  • As the Wizards settle in with their franchise point guard, ink a new backup point guard, trade that backup for a veteran point guard, and push their shooting guard to handle the ball, they still have a point guard they drafted in 2012 waiting in the Czech Republic.
  • Michael Lee on Drew Gooden's valuable contributions
  • Jason Reid on Randy Wittman making believers out of his roster and the rest of us
  • Looks like Randy Wittman owes the players a dunk!
  • The Wizards not only beat the Pacers on Monday, but they beat Lady Gaga on Tuesday. Understandably, the Little Monsters are not pleased.
  • Kevin Durant won the MVP award yesterday. He gave a fantastic acceptance speech in which he named every team member by name and thanked them for making him who he was. He shouted out his hometown (PG County: stand UP!), and the real waterworks started when he talked about his mom. You can watch the whole video here.
  • The Warriors fired Mark Jackson. Well, they didn't fire him so much as not re-hire him. But I'm pretty sure the sentiment is the same.

***

Oh, and speaking of Wise, here's a fun gif I made of his back-to-back Wizards season previews:Output_onaupt

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