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So Sorry: The top five Wizards apologies that need to happen

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” — J.R.R.Tolkien

The Wizards win against Brooklyn’s beastly offense was incredible. The game started with a slice of déjà vu, as the Wizards failed to score and play defense. Unsurprisingly, the opposing team jumped out to a double-digit lead. But the rest of the game featured a hearty brew of insane shot-making, clutch defensive plays, unsung heroes, and, as Steve Buckhantz might say, “DAGGERS!”

With emotions elevated from the game-winning high, we’re all hoping this type of win revives the Wizards season. But before the Wizards continue its arduous quest to scale the Eastern Conference standings, I think five apologies must be made.

ONE: We owe Russell Westbrook an apology. Before last night’s game, rising above the din was chatter that the Wizards were fleeced in its guard swap with the Houston Rockets. Never mind that Russ has a soft-tissue injury, pundits/fans kicked the man (in his quad) while he was down. Alleging that his underwhelming performance was “the beginning of that accelerated drop-off or a blip of severe underperformance,” people actually forgot that injuries always impacts a player’s productivity.

How did Russ respond? True to the gritty dog he is, Russ willed the team to victory. He didn’t just hit the game-winner — he also tied the game a few plays earlier, scoring his 38th point via a ridiculous layup over a 7-footer. His willpower won the Wizards this game. Powerful drives to the basket, and1 finishes, banking in midrange jumpers, splashing in timely threes — Russ went in his bag to score buckets the Wizards desperately needed.

The former Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year also did his thing on the defensive end. With Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura providing little resistance, Russ switched on to Kevin Durant and admirably defended the most un-guardable player in the modern game.

As Scott Brooks says, Russ “doesn’t take nights off. So, when he said his injury is getting better, we should have believed him. But instead of defending him against premature assertions that he is washed, a lot of us agreed that Father Time was coming off the top rope. How wrong, if even just for one night, we were.

For doubting a Hall of Famer dealing with a quad issue, we owe healthy Russ an apology.

TWO: ESPN owes Wizards fans an apology. If you thumbed through any of the social apps following the Wizards' losses to the Rockets and Hawks, videos of a sulking Beal awaited.

And ESPN’s stirring of the pot didn’t end at videos/photos of a dejected-looking Brad. The network broadcasted a tweet from Brad’s wife, Kamiah Adams-Beal. Such acts, naturally, snowballed into ESPN’s in-the-know-it-alls reporting that “sources” were telling ‘em that such-and-such team is interested in trading for Brad. With the worldwide leader in sports egging on the mob, fans pressured the Wizards to trade its star. “Free Brad Beal,” the public’s protests went. “You have been loyal to the Wizards long enough,” they continued.

Yet ESPN’s flagship program(s) failed to educate its viewing mob that Brad’s mood was a natural result of the Wizards being severely shorthanded, as several players were solitarily confined by the NBA’s Health and Safety protocols. How did the team respond? Washington gave a national TV audience an early candidate for game of the season.

Now that the Wizards win is the rage, Wizards fans are owed an apology for ESPN’s messiness. Don’t now be, as Mrs. Beal puts it, “quiet as a church mouse.”

THREE: Davis Bertans owes us an apology. Holding a man accountable is a hallmark of respectability. To that end, did you really close your eyes on defense, Davis? Why, bro? We know you’re challenged on that end. Adopt the #MambaMentality and address your weaknesses — but don’t close your eyes, man. You can’t defend what you do not see.

Now, perhaps this eye-closing thing explains why you’re missing the threes the Wizards pay need you to hit. Work through your struggles, open your eyes, and apologize for that mishap. We’re ready to forgive you.

FOUR: Tommy Sheppard owes Scott Brooks an apology. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sheppard wins a Diversity & Inclusion Award. He constructed a roster where ten Americans hoopers are teammates with two Germans, and one Ukrainian, Latvian, Israeli, Japanese, and Brazilian hooper. Kudos to Tommy for his commitment to the NBA’s inclusion initiatives.

Immaculate in its conception but not so much its design: Tommy’s diversity-axis doesn’t include athletic players who can defend. And this lack of defensive talent is why the Wizards are 30th in points allowed per game. That stat takes the shine off the team’s top-3 offense (points scored per game), as this imbalance is one of the main reasons that, even when healthy, the team will continue to struggle. It’s a simple calculus: you need scorers and defenders. But where are they?

Tommy forgot to adhere to Thanos’ edict that things be perfectly balanced. And we can’t excuse it as a one-off; the 2019-20 iteration of the squad placed 29th (out of 30) in opponent points per game. Scott needed reinforcements but got regression. Because as another famous Scott once put it, [the Wizards] can’t stop a nosebleed. For supplying him players that are inimical to playing defense, Tommy owes Scott an apology.

{EDITOR’S NOTE: We do not condone Ron’s suggestion that the Wizards’ next GM be Thanos.}

FIVE: Scott Brooks owes us an apology. Without zooming in or squinting, an orbiting astronaut could see that Garrison Mathews has the chops to compete on this stage. Yet at the beginning of the season, Scott had him rotting on the bench with Moe Wagner. What gives? Alex Caruso brought praise to the two-way player that competes with everything he has. Duncan Robinson came from nowhere to be one of the league’s best shooters. And the Wizards have one. Use him! While Scott’s already atoned by adding Mathews to the rotation, he needs to apologize for taking so long to see the obvious.