Hi. I wanted to start off by introducing myself. I'm a 30 year old man born and raised in this region, who has spent almost his entire life watching basketball.
I remember being in elementary school growing up where there were reading programs sponsored by Juwan Howard that encouraged kids my age to read. Because I was such a big Bullets/Wizards fan, I read all the books that were required of me and I ended up with a free trip to the US Air Arena to watch the then-Bullets play.
I was excited to watch the team play in person. Some of my first memories as a sports fan were watching the likes of Michael Adams, Mugsy Bogues, Scott Skiles, Don MacLean, Robert Pack, Pervis Ellison, etc. etc. etc.
I saw some bad basketball during those times, but I didn't care because I still watched the team despite being a huge David Robinson fan, simply because I loved the team and I was able to watch them regularly.
I bring up these memories to help you get some context as to how long I have been watching this team and for you to consider the fact that, people like myself and who are a little bit older haven't had much to celebrate. And to think the most successful team that I have witnessed in my lifetime came last year when the team stumbled its way to 46 wins.
While some may have been excited to see the team make the playoffs and advance to the second round, I think I can speak for many fans when I say, at no point in the time I have watched this team have I felt like the organization has been invested in putting the best team in the league out on the court.
I will admit a lot of my issues do start with the way the team was when your predecessor Abe Pollin was the owner. He had a bad reputation for being just a bit frugal, perhaps a bit too loyal to people like Wes Unseld who I understand, he was very close with.
Even with that said, when I sit back and look at this currrent team and current product, what about this team should excite me? What are you doing that is different? Why should I spend my time trying to find ticket plans with your ticket office staff and march myself downtown to continue to watch this team do what it has done since I have been alive, which is be mediocre?
We have been told how excited and how proud we should be of this team for the way they have performed in the playoffs the past two seasons and that has results in rising ticket prices and raised expectations.
But honestly, Ted, ask yourself a question, what are we doing here?
No, really think about that. Are we really getting excited off this team getting out of the first round? So much so that you have remained content and seemingly complacent to not making any drastic changes. I certainly understand your desire to maintain continuity but everyone has a shelf life. No successful organization continues to accept mediocrity over and over and over and then magically becomes great without changing anything.
So you expect us to consider getting out of the first round of playoff series as some measure of success?
Consider this, since Ernie Grunfeld has been in the Wizards organization, with the exception of three teams (Toronto, Charlotte, Milwaukee), every team in the entire NBA has made it out of the first round, including every team in the Western Conference at least once. Also, it should be noted that the Washington Wizards are just one of 20 teams that have gone to the second round at least twice.
So again I ask you, is this your measure of success? By league standards, that level of success is the definition of mediocrity.
Yet you continue to trot out the same President of Basketball Operations/General Manager with the same staff and your trot out the same coach. Listen, I understand that Grunfeld and Wittman have done some great things for this organization. They are great basketball minds and they appear to be great men.
But if your measure of success is to become a perennial contender, to maximize the talents of one of the franchise best player's ever in John Wall while he is on his way to entering his prime, then anything short of making the NBA Finals this year should warrant you to clean house.
Does that sound too extreme? Well, consider other teams and how they have dealt with failing to meet expectations. As was posted on this very website weeks ago, Ernie Grunfeld is the only General Manager of the four longest running GMs that has yet to win a championship. He hasn't even gotten this team to a conference finals .
The other GMs on that list have been to multiple conference finals and Championship Finals with their current teams too. GMs don't stick around and neither do coaches unless they have reached an unparalleled level of success that has never been met with this organization.
So far this season five coaches have been fired, two were just in the Conference Finals last year. Does that mean you should operate the same as other teams? Of course not. But you should have as high if not higher expectations as other teams and that's where the issue lies. Continuity only works when there is a lot of success. Without success, you are just accepting results without a measure of expectation.
Until there is a complete and utter change to the structure of this organization --until mediocrity is not accepted as a success -- this team will continue to struggle with local television ratings and with other team's fans packing our home stadium.
Having the Wizards make the playoffs this year won't change the long-term perception that D.C. sports fans have on this team. Striking out on the opportunity to get Kevin Durant could actually further damage the reputation of this team, so realistically as an owner, you have to show people that what has been done is simply not good enough.
If you continue with the same staff beyond this year, with Grunfeld and/or Wittman returning, you will be viewed as the modern day Abe Pollin. You have done nothing to change this perception. You have basically inherited and kept the same unsuccessful structure that has existed for decades.
Here's your chance. Do something bold. Show us that mediocrity is no longer acceptable.
Until then fans like me will sit at home or maybe even root for another team. That speaks volumes about how confident fans are in your ability to run this team.