Last Friday, Ted Leonsis wrote a blog post thanking the fans for a great season and took note of the "Let's go Wizards" chants in the closing seconds of Thursday's Game 6 when it was obvious the run was going to end.
It was really nice to see that many fans did stick through until the end. But there still were a steady stream of fans heading out before that point, even though this team has had more postseason success than any other team in franchise history since 1979:
Yo, fans: don’t leave, please. Give this group a round of applause when this ends. They deserve it.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) May 16, 2014
While we could admonish the fickle Wizards fanbase, let's put this in perspective. This area is just starting to get acclimated to a Wizards team that is relevant in the postseason. Even us at BF are still getting used to it.
Still, it was great to see the Verizon Center packed for Wizards games during the postseason. How will this playoff run translate into attendance and the game atmosphere for the 2014-2015 season?
The 2013-2014 Washington Wizards team had a season not unlike the 2007-2008 Washington Capitals team, which made the first of six consecutive playoff appearances. In the 2007-2008 NHL season, the Caps averaged 15,472 fans per game and filled 82.9 percent of the seats in Verizon Center. The next season in 2008-2009, the Caps averaged 18,097 fans per game and filled 96.9 percent of the seats, which is a substantial improvement. Their record in those two seasons improved from 43-31-8 (94 points) to 50-24-8 (108 points).
This year's Wizards averaged 17,026 fans per game and filled 84 percent of the seats in Verizon Center for the 2013-2014 NBA season while en route to a 44-38 record. If the Wizards can continue to make improvements in their regular-season play, then we'll see more sellouts and the fan atmosphere will carry over.
Question is, will it be as rapid as the Capitals? More importantly, what caused the Capitals' surge? Was it the playoff run? Was it the team's success the next year? That's the more difficult question.
Fanbases don't become rabid overnight. Hopefully, the Wizards will continue to improve on the court and we'll continue to see more fans rooting for this team, both inside the arena and all over the D.C. area.