It only took about six days of quarantining until I began pulling up Paul Pierce highlights on YouTube.
Of course, I wasn’t watching Pierce’s highlights from Boston. What kind of Bullets Forever writer would I be if I had been spending my free time watching players in their primes?
Instead, I was watching his highlights from D.C. during the 2014-15 NBA season – the one year of pure magic he gave the Wizards, the “I called game!” game, the buzzer beater that didn’t count, and, Jake Whitacre, in case you’re reading this, the first-round Toronto sweep.
In hindsight, Pierce probably should’ve returned to D.C. His career ended with the Clippers, who wanted to save him for the playoffs, but, in reality, never played him.
But I digress…
It got me thinking: Pierce’s one season in Washington was the most memorable, yet simultaneously forgettable, season I remember covering. When people think “The Truth,” no one will remember his lone year in the nation’s capital, though site manager emeritus Jake Whitacre will certainly will because the Wizards swept the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs that year.
It was also the most fun I had covering the Wizards. John Wall and Bradley Beal were rising stars – on the cusp of becoming a championship-caliber backcourt, we thought – and Playoff Randy Wittman was a thing.
But for every Paul Pierce, there were a hundred Mike Bibbys.
That’s the fun of covering the Wizards – because, regardless of who’s running the team, an over-the-hill star will finish his career donning the red-white-blue uniform.
So, without further ado, here’s the list of the most memorable forgettable stints in Washington – which is undoubtedly missing some players, so please add them in the comment section so we can search their highlights together and continue our masochistic Wizards fandom during this quarantine.
This list, I have discovered, will be infinitely long unless we broke it into parts – so let’s start with the most-recent players to leave forgettable marks in D.C…
Once an MVP candidate (he scored 53 points against the Wizards just a few years ago, believe it or not), injuries derailed IT’s career and he found himself looking to reset with the Wizards, which gave him a chance to play and start at point guard.
The quickness was clearly gone, but he could still shoot – and his confidence was as high as ever.
Unfortunately, IT struggled to play at that level. He experienced slumps, making his league-worst defense impossible to stomach. Washington eventually traded IT to the Clippers for Jerome Robinson. IT was waived, and is now a free agent, hoping for another chance to regain a spot in the NBA.
Everyone loves IT until your defense is 20 points worse than it should be.
At least we’ll have the Frosty Incident — and no one can take that from us, ever.
Ah, finally – the athletic, defensive-minded center the Wizards had always lacked.
“Superman” had bounced around the league, so it makes sense that one of his final stops would be in Washington. He arrived, got injured, and appeared in just nine games for the Wizards.
Once Ernie Grunfeld got fired, Tommy Sheppard traded Howard to the Memphis Grizzlies for CJ Miles – who, if this list was long enough, would also qualify for his forgettable season in Washington.
A year or so later, Howard found himself back with the Los Angeles Lakers, playing a consistent role off the bench, because #SoWizards.
The Austin Rivers trade was thought to be a cure for the Wizards’ backup guard woes – and, by getting rid of a disgruntled Marcin Gortat, it could also be addition by subtraction.
Rivers was a part of Howard’s season – the most forgettable year in Wizards recent-history. He never found his rhythm in D.C. and both parties seemed determined to end their relationship.
He was reportedly included in the infamous “Brooks” three-team trade involving the Wizards, Phoenix Suns and Grizzlies, but once that trade awkwardly fell through, the Wizards traded Rivers to Phoenix along with Kelly Oubre for Trevor Ariza.
Trevor Ariza: Part Two
Remember when Grunfeld traded 23-year-old budding star Kelly Oubre for 38-year-old Trevor Ariza, hoping it could save his job? Neither Grunfeld nor Ariza stuck around, but Oubre continues to blossom in Phoenix.
Ariza’s second stint in Washington was much more forgettable than the first. It was so forgettable that we should all just pretend Ariza’s second stint in Washington never happened…
Washington – where players who never lived up to their potential go to end their careers. Wesley Johnson (not to be confused with the Capitals’ PA announcer) joined the bunch after he was traded for Markieff Morris.
For some reason, Scott Brooks was adamant about playing Johnson and Ron Baker (!!!) ahead of Troy Brown Jr. at times...
Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis
These two are inseparable because they were included in a package from Chicago for Otto Porter. What a way to end Porter’s time in Washington.
Both played well in D.C. and benefited from the losing by putting up impressive numbers – but behind the numbers was the truth: that neither should be getting playing time on a rebuilding team, or a team actually trying to win games. Their defense left a lot to be desired and neither had the upside to justify retaining them long-term.
I, for one, thought Parker might have been worth re-signing. He somehow just turned 25 years old and showed flashes of being a solid playmaker for a player his size. I still think he could carve out a role for himself in the NBA — so, in other words, I might be alone on Parker Island (along with Anthony Bennett Island, Thomas Robinson Island...)
Devin Robinson had the ingredients to be an impact player – he could jump higher than anyone in the NBA (which, given how impressive NBA players are with regards to jumping, is pretty damn incredible), had the length to become a lock-down defender, and did I mention that he could touch the top of the backboard?
Except, he couldn’t stay out of trouble – and the Wizards, who worked hard to repair years’ worth of damage to the team’s reputation, did not want to take any chances with Robinson.
I was sold on Jenkins coming out of Vanderbilt but honestly forgot he played in Washington until I started compiling this list. In a 3-point heavy league, Jenkins, for whatever reason, just couldn’t find a permanent home in the NBA.
We’ll continue this list soon… but, for now, discuss who I might have forgotten (knowing that I will get to some of the other notable names in the parts to come).