clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The best Bullets/Wizards games we've ever attended

New, comments

What was the most memorable Wizards (or Bullets) game you ever saw in person? Four writers and several readers tell us their personal memories.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

As part of SB Nation's theme day, we're all listing the best game we ever attended in person as a fan. Here are the answers from several of our writers and all of you.

Learning to love noise

I've written about this before, but my Washington hoops fandom blossomed because of my late father. He was a big basketball fan growing up in Massachusetts, but even in the mid-90s, it was much harder to follow your old favorite teams when living elsewhere. Thus, he joined an office pool for Bullets season tickets in the 100s at USAir Arena and plucked about 10-15 games a season. Usually, he got two tickets. Usually, he took me.

The 1996-97 season was the third year we had this arrangement. By then, I had learned to love this plucky underdog playing in front of a half-empty building in the middle of the suburbs. The previous year brought some excitement with a near-.500 record without Chris Webber, and 1996-97 stepped it up to another level. The Bullets qualified for the playoffs on the last day of the season and faced the mighty Bulls.

In these three years, I had never seen the Bulls play. My dad joined the office pool late, so he didn't have top priority in their season ticket draft. Others claimed all the Chicago tickets, leaving us to settle for other good teams like the Knicks, Magic and Pacers. And sure enough, once the playoffs rolled around, one of his other partners commandeered our tickets for Game 3 of the postseason. I was devastated.

But my dad found an out. A different set of partners had season tickets in the deep corner of the lower bowl and couldn't use them that night. They were at a much worse angle, but they were still in the building and still closer to the court. He told me the news a few days later: he found tickets to Game 3 and he wanted to take me and me alone. It took me about 0.00000001 seconds to say yes.

And what an atmosphere. If you thought Games 3 and 4 against Chicago this season were loud, watch this. Noise was really contained in that old arena.

There was so much excitement for so many reasons. The Bullets hadn't won either of the first two games, but they were far more competitive than many expected. They had a young team that hadn't made the postseason in a decade. They were turning the page on an old era and moving to a downtown arena the next year. Game 3 was ultimately a last hurrah for whatever the franchise represented to that point.

And I'll admit: it was often tough for me to see. People were standing for large portions of the game and I was only 10 years old. I've never been one for loud noises -- my parents used to have to leave baseball games early if they were showing fireworks because I got scared -- but that game was different. I was yelling so loudly that it all became white noise to me.

By now, you know how it ends. As I complained to my dad that Harvey Grant was in the game, Scottie Pippen beat everyone to a loose ball, drove down the lane and dunked on Grant for the go-ahead hoop. Everyone was on their feet then, so the memory of the play is hazy. I couldn't really see what was going on, but knew enough that Grant didn't belong in the game. The Bullets lost and things went downhill from there.

That one game, though, cemented my fandom for life and convinced me that loud noises weren't scary.

-Mike Prada

52770226

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Hail To The Thief

Back in 2005, my entire family was really into the Wizards and excited about how the team had done in the regular season. The Batman and Robin tandem of Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes, each averaging over 20 points per game, had been exciting to watch. Of course Antawn Jamison was also doing his thing as usual.

So when the Wizards were on the verge of tying up their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls at two games apiece, my oldest brother was on the phone with a couple of his college buddies and rushing to buy tickets for the next home game -- Game 6 of the series, with (maybe) a spot into the second round on the line. It was awesome of him to also let me tag along with them.

We were sitting in the 400 section, but before we made our way up to the nosebleeds, we were roaming around the 100-level concourse just after the arena doors opened to the public. I was 15 at the time and was approached by a lady who asked if I wanted to go on the court before the game and line up to give the players high-fives as they ran out for warmups. She said the age limit for this thing was 14 years old, but that I looked young enough. Although it didn't allow me to blossom into an NBA superstar, I guess my small stature was good for something in those days. Thanks mom and dad!

I remember stepping from the floor and up onto the court. The Bulls players were already warming up on the other end of the court. Oh my goodness! I'm on the same court as NBA players!! When the Wizards came out of the tunnel, I remember seeing each player as they passed by -- although I was more focused on making sure our high-fives actually connected. Steve Blake. Brendan Haywood. Larry Hughes. Antawn Jamison. Gilbert Arenas!!

I have to admit that when Arenas passed me, I tried to give the longest possible high-five in high-five history so that I would specifically remember it and brag extra to everyone when I talked about it afterwards. Not sure I succeeded, but it was still a great memory.

From way up top during the gam, the players looked small, but having the birds-eye view of the entire arena and everyone below us packed, screaming and waving their rally towels made for a really awesome environment.

Needless to say, the Wizards won the game and thus the series. Jared Jeffries stole the ball off an inbounds from Kirk Hinrich and took it the the house for a dunk to seal the win. And after flinging the ball into the stands as the buzzer sounded, Arenas proceeded to take off his jersey and throw it into a lucky section for a few elated fans to tussle over. Knowing that our second-round opponent would be the Shaq-led Miami Heat, the crowd then began to chant, "Bring on Shaq! Bring on, Shaq!"

The guy sitting in front of me was responding with, "No! Stop! You don't really want that..." He was right. The Wizards eventually got swept by the Heat.

But the Wizards did get the Gracias as their newest season ticket-holding family ever since.

-Ryan Gracia


The coming out party

When the Wizards drafted John Wall, I and a couple of friends decided to purchase season tickets together. As electrifying as the speedy Kentucky guard could be at times, the first two and a half years brought underwhelming results as Wall struggled through injuries, a lockout-shortened season and a lackluster supporting cast, which led the Wizards to loss after loss.

Flash forward to late February 2013, and the Wizards are struggling through another lost season after Wall missed the first 32 games of the year. Though the team performed better with Wall back in the lineup, his numbers were far from overwhelming through the first two months. Wall was being called out by mega agent David Falk and chewed out by teammate Emeka Okafor. Then, March 2013 happened, where Wall averaged 22 points, eight assists and five rebounds per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc.

It was all capped by Wall's career game on March 25, 2013.

Wall's performance this night was nothing short of superb. He started off by hitting jumpers from his favorite spot above the right side of the free throw line, and showed a variety of other moves in his arsenal as well, such as gaining separation for Mike Conley with a step back to hit a 16-foot jumper, and a crossover and scoop under shot on the last Wizards possession of the first half. Wall continued to press the Memphis defense in the second half, getting to line with relative ease (24 times) and finally pushing Washington to a comfortable lead in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Wall then delivered the coup de grace: letting the shot clock run down as the Verizon crowd came to its feet before calmly knocking down a three pointer over Jerryd Bayless to cap an incredible night and a Wizards victory. His final stat line of the night was a remarkable 47 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Though I have been to games of bigger consequence, the John Wall coming out party on March 25, 2013 demonstrated future possibilities that have only begun to be realized.

-Nick Bilka

52826077

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Beauty in defeat

There were many great games that I attended over the years, but I'll say that my fandom of the Wizards took off after going to Game 3 of the team's second round playoff series against the Miami Heat in 2005. I was coming back home from college and one of my roommates invited a few friends and I to go to the game with him.

The atmosphere around that game was electric. We received Round 2 Beat the Heat rally towels upon entering the MCI Center. We also got the blow-up noise bangers and banged them until those things popped like balloons.

The Wizards played well in that game for the most part. I remember Gilbert Arenas scoring 20 points and dishing a then-playoff record 14 assists. And for much of the first half, the Wizards were playing toe-to-toe with Miami.

Unfortunately, Dwyane Wade played better and Alonzo Mourning had a near-vintage performance, where they won 102-95. My friends and I left exhausted and with worn out voices, but the experience of a second round playoff game was definitely worth it for us.

-Albert Lee

All of yours

From ts35: Game 3 of the 1997 NBA Playoffs vs. Chicago.

So much changed after that game. The Bullets moved downtown the next season. They became the Wizards the next season. Then the Webber debacle and trade. The Howard debacle and contract. The Wallace, etc for Austin trade and all of the history after that that has come to define #SoWizards.

But for that one shining game on April 30, 1997 everything seemed possible. It was a glorious moment for the franchise and the fans. And it is by far my most memorable game as a Bullets / Wizards fan.

From AjCool16: Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Playoffs vs. Chicago.
From Juice Springsteen: Wizards-Heat, Jan. 15, 2014

I know that legendary games are almost always close, that it's buzzer beaters and overtimes and other heroics that people talk about years down the road. But man, there is a certain reptilian pleasure to just utterly eviscerating an opponent, to laughing while the Heat fans around you sputter about rings and your friend holds you back as if you're going to jump down from section 412 and celebrate on the court with Nene. The entire party next to us even left before halftime when the birthday boy announced loudly that he was done here and wanted to go take shots. (He was a true Heat fan to the end.)

From DaPropertyOvSeptember07: Wizards-Pacers, Feb. 8, 2009.

This is my most memorable sports moment because what fan wouldn't want to see your team hit a game winning shot at home with the best player on the team on an insane run like Caron was on that night IN PERSON. My friends and I still talk about how crazy that night was. Games like that being able to see for myself how much those guys developed and the effort they played with during that sad season is what keeps my hopes high for the future of this franchise.There have been better all around performances and better buzzer beaters but none of them to compare to this one because I was actually there.

From juniorwizkid: Game 4 of the 2005 second-round series vs. Miami.

I was sad the next couple of weeks because were losing 3-0 to the Heat. Back then as a 7 year old you think crazy stuff, and every Wizards game I had attended that season we had won. So I thought I willed the Wizards to a lot of wins that year. Many people said they loved my energy and I took pride in that and I thought I had super powers. So as I was thinking about my powers my dad came up to me and said his friends couldn't go to the game so he gave the tickets to us!!

Emails

From Ryan

I was living in Eugene OR for a few years when the Wizards finally came to Portland on February. Our record was 7-22 (3-10) away, Randy Wittman had just replaced Flip, and everyone at the Rose Garden had funny looks for me and my buddy in the old white and teal Antawn Jamison and John Wall jerseys. Swaggy P had 35, John had 29 and 9, and Javale acknowledged my existence after screaming his name after several monster athletic dunks. Being one of maybe 25 Wizards fans in the building, winning away at the rabid Rose Garden, and the glance/grin from Javale made this the best Wizards game of my life!

From Jason:

It was May 2005. Wizards were in the playoffs for the first time in forever. I was 15 years old and I attended the game with my dad...both of us are huge Wizards fans at our first playoff game.

It was game 6 at the MCI Center in DC and we were hosting the Chicago Bulls and looking to eliminate them in the first round.

I remember in the first quarter Tyson Chandler committed a hard foul on Larry Hughes and I was heated. I hated the Bulls. I hated Chandler, Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni...all of the above.

It was such a sloppy game and so nerve-racking, I just wanted it to be over so we could advance. There were like a billion technical fouls on both teams and the tension was growing.

Late in the fourth quarter the Wizards were looking to wrap the game up but they struggled with one huge priority: FREE THROWS. They couldn't hit any of them and my heart was racing, I couldn't believe how awful they were at the line. I remember I knew it would be a bad finish since Juan Dixon wasn't even hitting free throws.

In the end, Wizards were up 3 points with Chicago in possession with a few seconds left in the game. After failing to score, the buzzer went off and the Wizards got over the hump. MCI Center was rocking and Gilbert Arenas threw the ball into the air. This was the first time the organization advanced in the playoffs since naming the team "Wizards" and it was a tremendous feeling to be apart of it.

As we left the building, fans in the streets were chanting "We want Shaq! We want Shaq!" As we were set to face Miami in the second round :)

From Myth Crab:

My family grew up in Richmond, VA.  My parents weren't big basketball fans, but it was my sport of choice as a kid so my dad and I adopted the local team.  We had seen a game or two from the nose bleeds by the time I was 8 or 9, but they had always been kind of a let down.  My first game I was supposed to see Allen Iverson (my favorite player), but for whatever reason Mr. Durable sat out the game for a minor injury.

Anyway - a couple years later my uncle called us up and told my dad he had 2 extra tickets to that nights gamea couple days before my birthday.  Box seats.  We were stoked.  We drove up 95 to The Phone Booth and made it just in time for that nights game.  The seats were awesome.  Catered food, free drinks, a couple retired NBA players I had never heard of wandering around, even a free Wizards mini basketball.

On to the game...  My dad and I knew we had to see a MJ game before he retired.  Amazingly, it ended up that it was his final 40 point game.  40 year old Jordan scored 43 points against the Nets 2 days before my birthday.

Wizards basketball will always be something my dad and I bond over.  We weathered the bad years together, and for whatever reason seeing Mike play that day made it easy.  That was when we became real Wizards fans.

From Stephan:

I have been following the frustrating Wizard franchise loyally since I was about ten, and love this team with all my heart. This year onJanuary 15, I turned 21 and went to see the wiz play the heat. In the year 2014 of our Lord Obama on January 15, on my 21st birthday, I was Gifted a 17 point win over the heat, and despite the many 12$ beers, I remember this night and will never forget it. This was the greatest birthday gift I could ever ask for. Thank you wiznation, I love you.

From everyone else

Check this comments section and let us know what game was your favorite to attend.