The Washington Wizards announced their promotional schedule for the 2019-20 NBA season on Thursday. Instead of just regurgitating the schedule the Wizards released, I wanted to focus on the team’s heritage and theme nights.
Here’s the schedule of all the theme and heritage nights this year. nights:
- Nov. 8 - Military Night vs. Cavaliers — Veterans Day is on Monday, Nov. 11 and this game is a way to honor veterans at home before the actual holiday.
- Jan. 4* - Filipino Heritage Night vs. Raptors — Wizards alum Andray Blatche naturalized in the Philippines before the 2014 World Cup where he actually played very well and kept them competitive. But the Philippines is a nation that is basketball hungry, and basketball-first, not unlike China. I love the fact that the Wizards are nodding to that with this game.
- Jan. 12 - Kids Game and French Heritage Night vs. Jazz — Nous aimons les enfants! With Ian Mahinmi representing Washington and Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert representing Utah, we should see plenty of our friends from France here to root pour leur équipe!
- Jan. 20 - Martin Luther King. Jr. Day Game vs. Pistons — The Wizards have held a home game on this day for quite some time. It’s also a great time to honor one of America’s national heroes on a Monday afternoon.
- Jan. 30 - Chinese New Year Game vs. Hornets - Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year 2020 is on Jan. 25. China is the largest country in the world and also has the NBA’s biggest fan base. Other ethnic groups celebrate the same day like Koreans, Mongolians and Vietnamese.
- Feb. 7 - Latvian and Slovenian Heritage Game vs. Mavericks — The Wizards have Latvian forward Davis Bertans. The Mavericks have Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis and Slovenian guard Luca Doncic. I get why the Wizards would have a Latvian night, but why can’t the Latvians have their own night and the Slovenes their own? That’s just me though.
- Feb. 11 - Hispanic Heritage Game vs. Bulls — Hispanics make up the largest minority group in the United States and the D.C. area. No Wizards or Bulls players are from Spanish speaking countries or have heritage from them, but this will be a great night nevertheless.
- Feb. 21 - HBCU Night vs. Cleveland Cavaliers — Howard University in Shaw, D.C. and the University of the District of Columbia are HBCU’s in the nation’s capital. In addition, Bowie State University in Maryland is about half an hour away. Coppin State University and Morgan State University are both in Baltimore, a little less than an hour from D.C. without rush hour traffic. Expect a good-sized crowd of college students coming to cheer the Wizards onto victory!
- Mar. 6 - Pride Night vs. Hawks — The WNBA has done Pride Nights for the LGBTQ community on a league-wide scale but the NBA has been more gradual about it. The Wizards have done this for multiple seasons and it should be noted that Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player was on the Wizards when he made his announcement in 2013.
- International Women’s Night on Mar. 8 vs. Heat — Women are reaching new heights in the NBA each year. There are more coaches and front office professionals on teams than ever before. And for the Wizards, Kristi Toliver is an assistant on the player development coaching staff. This game isn’t just about celebrating women’s accomplishments so far (and in the future), but it’s also about gender equality. There’s nothing a woman can’t do.
- G-Wiz’s Birthday on Mar. 15 vs. Thunder — Happy birthday, G-Wiz!
- Mar. 21 - Greek Heritage Game vs. Bucks — Greece is one of the most basketball passionate countries in Europe and NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo plays for the Bucks. It’s gonna be a long night with the crowd likely turned against Washington here.
- Mar. 25 - National Cherry Blossom Festival Night vs. Suns — The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the D.C. area’s biggest events after cherry trees were donated by the Japanese in 1912. This is effectively the Japanese heritage game with rookie forward Rui Hachimura leading the charge.
*The Wizards press release had this game on Jan. 14, but they are not playing on that day according to the schedule. Therefore, it appears that Jan. 4 is the intended date of Filipino Heritage Night.