One of the things that many of you wanted was a time where we can meet up with each other on game day.
Some other SB Nation sites, most notably our Bay Area colleagues at Golden State of Mind have done this regularly, going as far back as 2007. They even made a road trip to Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento recently. Check out this piece by GSoM's Nate Parham for more on that trip.
I would LOVE for us to have a road trip at some point. But for now, let's start with a game here at home. Here's a rundown on how things went.
Going to the District Chophouse instead of The Greene Turtle before the game
I've grown quite fond of The Greene Turtle over the years because they have many locations in the D.C. area. In Loudoun County where I live, there are two more locations where I frequent -- and wrote at least some BF stories and did office work along the way.
If you do go to the Verizon Center often, there is a Greene Turtle on-site. Earlier this week, the rest of the BF writers and I thought. "Hey, the Georgetown vs. Villanova game's over, it's still at least a couple hours before the Wizards game. It's an easy place to hang out. Let's do it there!"
I got to D.C. early and noticed that the New England Patriots were playing the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL Playoff game. If you ask my friends how much of an NFL fan I am, you'll hear that I like it when the Redskins are doing well and don't care what
With the Celtics in town, some Boston-area fans who made a long trip down I-95 may have just went there early to kill two birds with one stone: Watch the Patriots in the afternoon, and the Celtics in the evening.
I caught up with Nick Bilka about half an hour before 5 p.m. and we made the decision to hold the pregame hangout at the District Chophouse. Without a computer in hand, I had to hastily put the notice on social media and the site on my "flimsy" iPhone 6 Plus to make it work.
At the hangout in the Chophouse -- which was less crowded than The Greene Turtle -- we had a few of our loyal commenters and tweeters stop by, grab some food, and/or some of the in-house drinks that the restaurant makes.
A few more of our writers also made the trip to the Chophouse, like Akbar Naqvi and Mitchell Northam. Mitch stopped by right after covering the aforementioned Georgetown vs. Villanova game:
He left early because he was covering last night's game to cover interviews and the like for us. For that, Mitch definitely deserved his #NBAVOTE that the site gave him on Saturday morning.
The Game Itself
In addition to all of us, from the BF writing crew, Jon Munshaw and Mike Sykes also made it to Bullets Forever Night with their better halves. The Wizards wore their Baltimore Bullets-inspired throwback-but-not-exactly-throwback jerseys so I expected a bit more Bullets references, but I didn't hear it during starting lineup intros:
In starting lineups, we are still the Wizards, not the Bullets fwiw https://t.co/3UjWXKthgP— Albert L. (@aleeinthedmv) January 17, 2016
I know I listed Kelly Olynyk as a possible "Wizards Killer" yesterday in the preview. There were definitely a couple commenters who gave some jeers every he didn't make a good play and definitely when he avoided getting posterized by John Wall on the fast break.
Nice fast break dunk by wall. Went by Olynyk https://t.co/QFr5E6pFRG— Albert L. (@aleeinthedmv) January 17, 2016
For some reason, this guy kind of is a target for booing by their fans. Olynyk had a decent night, scoring 11 points, but it was a far cry from Isaiah Thomas' 32.
The long wait for postgame free throws
The game was close with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Really, either the Wizards or Celtics could have pulled this off. But we were going to shoot postgame free throws. And on top of all that, I was told by my Wizards guest services representative that there was a group of 600 safety patrols -- you know, the 5th graders who help walk kids across the street and tell kids to "quiet down" on the school bus -- also in line to take a shot at the charity stripe.
Fortunately, we were scheduled to go before the safety patrols, but we were told to leave our seats early. Most of us who had tickets for BF Night left. Many others, however, stayed in their seats to watch the game's close outcome which unfortunately ended up with a Washington loss.
But the close outcome of the game pretty much sealed the deal that there would be a number of fans who did not attempt a free throw. That said, if it was any other game, I would stay in my seat until the end.
Because I left, I don't know how the 400's were during that time, but the BF'ers who made the trek down to the 100 level were still pumped as ever (sorry for the foul language some were putting out toward the end of this Vine):
Crazy BF fans https://t.co/dYcBQMkLlZ— Albert L. (@aleeinthedmv) January 17, 2016
The free throws and afterward
As basketball fans, we're quick to point the finger when one of our favorite players misses a shot at the stripe. Or we go crazy when a player on the opposing team misses a shot in the fourth quarter and gives fans Chick-fil-A sandwiches like Giannis Antetopeng -- I mean Antetokounmpo did.
Yes, it's "easy" to make a free throw when you're a professional basketball player. After all, you'd be spending hours a day on this one part of your craft. No wonder why we'd laugh or jeer when an NBA, WNBA, D-League, or FIBA European/Asian player misses this shot.
We're amateurs. Many of us probably haven't attempted a free throw since we were in gym class. Depending on how old you are, maybe that's a couple years. For others, like me, I haven't been in P.E. since the year 2000. (God, I'm feeling old)
When we went down to take our free throws, it went the way I thought it would: the ushers were going to move us along as quickly as possible.
We wouldn't have time to do some of the famous free-throw dribbling routines like Richard Hamilton or Gilbert Arenas did, both of whom played for D.C. once upon a time. Maybe that's why half of us air balled them like we didn't know where the hoop was, at least according to their own self-reports.
To save the embarrassment, I won't tell who told me that his or her free throw looked something like this:
So how did my shot go? It almost didn't happen. Really, it's true.
Apparently, one of the ushers thought I was some random schmo, but fortunately, a couple of the Monumental staff members got that cleared up. I was the last person to take a free throw because I waited to see if there were any latecomers from BF Night seats who wanted to redeem their chance for glory.
So after months of anticipation, I was given a basketball. My moment finally arrived.
For whatever reason, I felt confident and looked like a kid in the candy store as I bounced the ball once in anticipation of the shot that went through my head a million times...
(photo by BF user jensrules)
...but like countless other BF readers and 5th graders in neon orange or yellow belts that night, I missed. My shot hit the back of the rim though it looked good from my angle when it went up.
Sorry, I have no video of it either so this photo will have to suffice. The other attendees will just have to vouch for me that I couldn't throw a ball halfway across the key.
After our free throws were done, the ushers quickly led us out of the arena bowl so the arena could be cleaned up for the Capitals game against the Rangers later Sunday afternoon. Some of us stuck around to take a group photo so you know I'm not making this up.
(Photo by Albert's iPhone)
Many of us went to the Greene Turtle afterward to watch the conclusion of the Packers vs. Cardinals NFL Playoff Game.
The ending was as improbable and amazing as any I've ever seen. Aaron Rodgers throwing a hail mary touchdown pass to send the game into overtime, followed by Carson Palmer making a pass to Larry Fitzgerald when he went into beast mode soon after? Amazing!
I'm not the biggest NFL fan out there, but I'll admit that those were two sensational plays in one of the most exciting playoff games in recent memory.
Saturday was our first BF Night ever. All things considered, it was a success.
I glad that I had a chance to meet some of our regular readers in person. It's something we want to do a bit more of in future years or perhaps even this season with a watch party or the like.
First, I want to thank everyone who bought a ticket for the game and for hanging out with us before and after the game. Without you, there is no BF Night.
Second, I want to thank Monumental Sports, specifically Kelly Rakusin from Wizards Guest Services for being flexible and going the extra mile for us. Whether she was adjusting our ticket purchase deadline, transferring (and re-transferring) tickets to people, or letting us shoot free throws when we learned that pregame warmups weren't an option, Kelly was there to ensure that things went smoothly.
Finally, thanks to all of you, the readers. You make Bullets Forever the best Wizards fan community on the web and we're always open to your suggestions. I put out a poll on the bottom in regard to when you want another such night.
Let's do this again and make every BF Night an event we look forward to!