Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas Eve with family or friends. Here are the top stories of the week:
Wizards welcome Kelly Oubre back in triple overtime thriller
The Wizards made a big trade last week where Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers went to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Trevor Ariza. Rivers ultimately got a buyout from Phoenix, but Oubre returned to Washington last Saturday. In a triple overtime thriller, the Wizards won 149-146. Oubre scored 20 points in the loss and also had a knack for making shots when the Wizards didn’t need them. He just had that “Wiz Killer” gene in him.
It’s a bit sad to see that a player the Wizards invested time and money in is now gone. Hopefully Ariza can provide more to the table over the rest of the season.
Emma Meesseman and the Belgian women’s basketball team strike out in the Sportgala/Gala du Sport
Last Saturday, Belgian sportswriters held the Sportgala (Dutch) or the Gala du Sport (French) in Brussels. Meesseman was nominated for the female athlete of the year and the women’s basketball team was nominated for team of the year.
Instead, gymnast Nina Derwael won the female athlete of the year and the Belgian men’s field hockey team won team of the year.
So congratulations to Dewael for winning the award. She is a world class gymnast and deserves recognition. As basketball fans who aren’t from Belgium, we will still call the outcome “Verschrikkelijk” or “Terrible” which means terrible in the Dutch and French language respectively.
The Belgian women’s basketball team and Meesseman had an uphill road to climb. Derwael won a worldwide gold medal in the uneven bars and the Belgian men’s field hockey team beat the Netherlands, their arch rival for the World Cup title in field hockey. Meesseman was the EuroLeague Women Final Four MVP, but her team came up medal-less in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup last September.
The Belgian media seems to be very cold hearted when it comes to deciding team and athlete of the year. But Derwael was one of the favorites for her event and field hockey is arguably Belgium and the Netherlands’ top sport after soccer. Basketball is quite far down the totem pole and I noted that in 2016 in a piece on why Amsterdam, the Dutch capital should have higher priority for an NBA team over other European cities and countries where basketball has a more dedicated following.
But I think the Belgian media should have looked at context as well. Again, Derwael was a favorite in gymnastics. And in men’s field hockey, the Belgians and the Dutch are much more passionate about it than Americans, where field hockey is viewed as a women’s sport.
The women’s basketball team overachieved the last couple years and they come up empty handed. If anything, few people, even in the Benelux gave them a chance to make an impact in EuroBasket Women 2017 or the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
If the Belgian women’s basketball team won the award, then it could encourage more girls especially to take up basketball instead of playing field hockey or soccer assuming they are into team sports. Instead, they are relegated to being a footnote. I find that a shame.
John Wall is still out of form
So let’s head back to the Wizards for a little bit. Wall rested in the win against the Suns. He played the very next day against the Pacers on Sunday when Washington lost 105-89. I’m not surprised that the Wizards lost that game due to tired legs. But Wall scored seven points and shot 1-of-7 from the field.
I get that Wall is dealing with nagging injuries. But really, the team needed him to produce more consistently, especially when he had fresher legs than Bradley Beal, who shot a ghastly 2-of-11 from the field for seven points himself. That said, I give Beal more of a pass for poor performance than Wall.
I’m sure that nearly everyone who is a Wizards fan wants Wall to succeed. And until this season, he has succeeded, often in spite of roster mismanagement involving his supporting cast. But this season, he’s declined in terms of his ability to help the Wizards win. As Ben Mehic noted last week, his departure won’t end well, though his departure is in the Wizards’ best long term interest because he is due a supermax extension that kicks in — next season.
To this point, Ian Mahinmi and his contract have been a punching bag as the reason why the Wizards can’t move forward. But Wall’s contract is as well, even if he is otherwise still producing big numbers.
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas
I get that the current NBA season has been anything but ideal for us Wizards fans. But we still hope everything else with your personal lives is going well. So with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy holiday season!