In case you missed it earlier this week, Marcin Gortat retired from the NBA. He played for several teams, but his best years were with the Washington Wizards, where he played from 2013-18.
Many former Wizards players, like now-Chicago Bulls forward Otto Porter and Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky received tribute videos when they came back to Washington for the first time as members of the opposition.
Gortat didn’t back on Nov. 18, 2018 when he returned to Washington as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers.
In a piece that Ben Standig, then of NBC Sports Washington wrote at the time, Gortat took issue with the Wizards not providing a video tribute, a trend that players are often getting these days when they change teams.
Also, Gortat took issue with the perception that he was a “cancer” in the locker room when the Wizards’ performance began to plateau and regress in the 2017-18 season. Remember “Everybody Eats” and the “team” win?
According to Standig, he openly felt vindicated since the Wizards continued to have in-team locker room struggles in a season where they ultimately failed to make the NBA Playoffs.
While I agree that Gortat has his weaknesses, in particular with lashing out when fingers start to go at him, I also never thought he was the “cancer” of this Wizards team. If one person deserves that title, it’s probably then-President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld. As we are certainly aware, Tommy Sheppard is now Grunfeld’s successor.
I’m not sure who decides whether former players get tributes or not. But Gortat never did anything egregious, like ... bringing guns into the locker room or physically beat coaches. Gortat certainly had — and still has — a point that he deserved better.
Since he is now a retired player, my hope is that Gortat returns to Washington in the near future. Maybe we can make Polish Heritage Night an annual thing even if he is no longer playing. And yes, he deserves a “Hammer or Machine night.”
Come on Wizards, let’s make it happen! Invite the Polish Machine back to D.C. and have one game dedicated for him!