Being a Wizards fan can be hard, really hard. Washington’s NBA franchise has been mostly irrelevant from a national standpoint aside from a few concise windows here and there. But maybe it’s the pain and the process of rooting for, historically a bottom-feeder, which makes the good moments that much sweeter.
Yes, there have been some painful moments over the years but this franchise has also treated us with some exciting and euphoric moments as well. Let’s relive those moments that made us cry tears of joy and tears of pain (or at least took our emotions for a ride).
2006: LeBron James whispers in Gilbert Arenas’ ear
In what was a back and forth affair, the Wizards looked dead in the water. Down by three with five seconds remaining in regulation, Washington needed a desperation three-pointer to tie this game and hopefully win it in overtime. Gilbert delivered. Eddie Jordan drew up a play to get the ball in Arenas’ hands and standing about 10-feet behind the three-point line, he drilled the shot sending the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, Washington led 113-112 with just 15 seconds remaining and an opportunity to put the Cavs at an arms distance. Arenas stepped to the line for two free throws. The first one - clank. In-between shots, LeBron James came over to Arenas and whispered something in his ear to the tune of: “you better not miss this, because we’re about to come down and hit the game winning shot.”
Arenas clanked it and Cleveland hit a corner three to ice the game and close out the series.
This game was a sign of years to come as LeBron James was an obstacle that this Wizards team would have to overcome. In three straight years, they never could overcome LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
2017: The Cavs-Wizards playoff series that never was
This game was one for the ages.
After stumbling out of the gate to start the 2016-2017 season, Washington was on a tear as they’d won 14 of their first 18 games after the calendar flipped to January. There was a buzz building prior to this game as this could have shaped up to be a hell of a series if these two teams would have clashed in the playoffs.
This one was a vintage House of Guards game. John Wall scored 22 points and dished out 12 assists while Bradley Beal dropped in a game-high 41 points. The lead seesawed back and forth the entire time in a game that sounded, felt, and had the intensity of a playoff game.
With the Wizards trailing by one late in regulation, John Wall forced his way through the lane for a layup attempt at the hole. He missed the attempt but Markieff Morris was there to clean up the mess and put the Wizards up 118-117 with 12 seconds to play. Next time down, LeBron James caught the ball and with a full head of steam got to the hole (got away with a travel too) but missed the layup. The Wizards gobbled up the rebound and John Wall was fouled giving him a chance to go to the line to stretch the lead to three with 3.4 seconds remaining. John Wall hit both free-throws giving the Wizards a 120-117 lead and that’s when all hell broke loose.
Kevin Love took the inbounds pass and threw the ball three-quarters court to James who banked in a three-pointer while falling out of bounds to tie the game at 120 and send it into overtime.
Even though James fouled out, Kyrie Irving took over in the overtime period as the Wizards would fall to the Cavs 140-135 in an overtime thriller. Yes, this game ripped the Washington fanbase’s hearts out but more importantly, we were robbed of potentially an epic Eastern Conference Finals matchup between these two teams. The Cavs made it, but former Wizard Isaiah Thomas and an out of body performance from Kelly Olynyk robbed us of that playoff matchup.
2017: Washington runs out of gas against the Celtics in Game 7
In a series where the home team won every game through the first six contests, the Wizards had a chance to flip the script and win the series if they could just take down the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
After a first half where the Celtics kept a minimal lead against the Wizards, Washington stormed out of the gates to start the second half. Clutch shot after clutch shot from John Wall and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards the lead that they’d enjoy until the closing minutes of the third quarter. Al Horford and Marcus Smart knocked down two three-pointers late in the third period to give Boston a six point lead it what was otherwise, a razor tight ballgame.
With the Wizards trailing by six points at the start of the fourth quarter, Scott Brooks had a big decision to make - trust his subs for a few minutes, or ride his key players for the full 24 minutes in the second half. As we all know, Brooks chose the latter.
Boston used a 18-2 run to stretch their lead to 10, but the Wizards fought back. Unfortunately, for Washington, Kelly Olynyk would do his best Robert Horry impersonation by catching fire in the fourth quarter. Olynyk hit clutch shot after clutch shot for Boston to help put Washington away as the Wizards ran out of gas down the stretch.
The Wizards lack of bench depth, something that reared it’s ugly head all season appeared once again as Washington got just five points from the reserves that night. What was most frustrating about this game is that this was the best Wizards team that has taken the floor in 40+ years. If they had a slightly deeper bench or a few more guys that Scott Brooks could trust, that would have made all the difference in getting Washington over the hump and into the elusive, Eastern Conference Finals.
2015: Gilbert Arenas hits a buzzer beater against the Bulls
This is the shot that made the Wizards relevant for the first time since Michael Jordan left.
In a first round playoff matchup against the Bulls, the Wizards quickly found themselves in a 0-2 hole. Expectations weren’t high for this Wizards team entering the postseason but there was hope that they’d be able to at least be competitive. After protecting home court, the Wizards tied the series at 2 games apiece but would have to win a game in Chicago if they were to win the series.
Washington got its chance. With under 10 seconds remaining, and the game tied at 110, Gilbert Arenas got the ball at the top of the key. After dribbling valuable seconds off the clock, he made his move and pulled up for a jumper from the left elbow - swish. Washington would win game five of the series and would close things out at home in Game 6.
2015: Did you call bank? “I called game!”
The Wizards could have breezed to an easy victory in this one, but that wouldn’t have been fun. Washington led the Atlanta Hawks by 21 points, 91-70 early in the fourth quarter. But one thing every Wizards fan must not forget - no lead is safe.
Atlanta, the number one seed in the Eastern Conference would fight back to tie the game at 101 with 14.1 seconds to play. Coach Randy Wittman drew a play to get Paul Pierce the ball at the top of the key. Pierce was very slow to get into his move but finally did so with under three seconds remaining. Pierce stepped back and arched his shot over the shorter Dennis Schroder and banked it in at the buzzer.
The rest is history.
2017: John Wall hits a three-pointer in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals
Before Game 6 in Washington, many of the Boston Celtics players showed up to the game against the Wizards in all black - signifying the end of the Wizards season.
Boston led 69-66 entering the fourth quarter with Washington’s season on the line. If the Wizards were going to win this one, they were going to need guys to step up - and they got just that. John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Markieff Morris took matters into their own hands as they were the only Washington players to score in the second half of this game. But even with these three guys stepping up, it looked like it might not be enough.
With 15 seconds remaining and the game tied at 89, Brad Stevens called a timeout to regroup his troops. He drew up the perfect play between Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford on the right wing of the floor which resulted in a Horford bank shot (which he later admitted wasn’t on purpose) giving the Celtics a 91-89 lead and sucking all of the life out of the stadium. But there was just enough time left.
With 6.2 seconds remaining, Otto Porter just barely got the ball to John Wall before a five-second violation. Wall, who’d been attacking the hole all night, sized up Avery Bradley and rose up for three over the outstretched arms of Bradley.
Washington wins 92-91 in what is the most iconic moment for the franchise in nearly 40 years.