Wizards Games – The People You See

I got stood up last week.  I was supposed to meet a date at Clyde’s near the Verizon Center.  I left a message to say I’d be 15 minute late but when I got there she was gone.  Oh well, she was 40.  A little too young anyway.

So I decided to go to the Wizards-Celtics game.  That worked out better anyway.  It’s always interesting to see who you see at a Wizards game.  First I saw ESPN Legal Analyst Roger Cossack, who also used to work for CNN.

Then I saw the guy who is probably the greatest Bullets fan ever.  I told him I recognized him from games going back 30 years.  Back in the 80s, when the crowds were a little sparse and quiet, he could be seen jumping up and yelling his lungs out.  He’s a tall black guy, probably in his mid-50s.  I told him the Wizards should change their name back to Bullets and go back to the red, white and blue uniforms.  He said that’s what his father used to say.

Me with Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers

Then I thought about Robin Ficker, a controversial Bethesda lawyer who used to heckle the opposing team so badly that they would move their seats onto the court during timeouts.  I don’t know what Ficker does as a lawyer, but the heckling was great.

Then I saw Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers and got a picture with him using my phone.  I told him the Skins would have a good year next year.  He was cool.

Then I recognized Rod Davis, a guy who played basketball for Gaithersburg High School in the 80s.  I thought of how I tried out but didn’t make the team, and how nobody can understand that I didn’t play since I I’m 6-5, but I grew late.  Then I thought about how people must not respect basketball players, because they think the only thing a player needs is height.  There were 1000 boys in that school, so I would have had to be in the top 1.5% in order to make the team – the best or second best player out of every 100 boys.  But I was in the top five tennis players out of 1000 there.

Then I saw CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at his usual spot.  He’s a big Wizards fan.  Then I thought of a story I heard about CNN’s John King.  About five years ago he was playing for CNN in a softball game against AOL.  The word was, the game got kind of contentious.  So when King scored the winning run, he (reportedly) said, “You’ve got mail, bitch!”  I always thought that was kind of funny.

It also made me think of the late Tim Russert, who was a big Wizards fan.  I thought of how he was a really great reporter, but was very unfairly biased against Hillary Clinton and for Barack Obama.  Along with many other members of the media, he swayed the election from Hillary to Obama.  Anyway, then I thought of Russert’s son Luke, who got a job as a reporter for MSNBC and was pretty bad when he first started, but is actually an extremely knowledgeable reporter about Congressional issues now.

Then I wondered what was new with CNN’s Lisa Sylvester, my ex from 5 years ago, now that the Lou Dobbs show is gone. Hopefully it’s a move up, but I don’t know because I don’t watch CNN.

Then I snuck down to the expensive seats.  I thought of how during the two years Michael Jordan played for the Wizards, I successfully snuck down to the lower level 12 out of 13 attempts, and I almost always had another person with me.

I made it to the 9th row near the corner of the court.  I looked over about 10 seats to my left, and in the 10th row was Sportsradio 980’s Andy Pollin.  I thought of the time in the early 90s when I worked for the station and I did some live reports from Bullets games.

Then I thought of how Wizards owner Abe Pollin (a distant relative of Andy) died recently.  He did a lot of great things for the city including building the Verizon Center with his own money.  I thought about how the area around the Verizon Center is packed with restaurants and bars, and how people new to the city probably think it has always been that way, but that ten years ago many of the buildings around the arena were abandoned and there wasn’t much activity there.  I thought of how amazing it is that the Caps are now the toughest ticket in town, and that’s partly because of the Verizon Center.

As for the Wizards – Celtics game itself, the Wizards lost 104-102.  The Wizards don’t deserve much ink.  I thought about how I’ve been a huge Bullets/Wizards fan for 30 years, but I actually want them to lose this year.  Why?  They didn’t try their hardest last year.  The tone was set when Gilbert Arenas, out for the year with an injury, said it might be good if the Wiz had a bad record so they could get a top draft pick.  The Wizards also hired an interim head coach last year, Ed Tapscott, who had never been a head coach except for a stint at American University in the 1980s.  So by not going all out, by not trying 100% all the time, the Wizards didn’t try to win.  You can’t just turn it on and off like that, and the effort isn’t there this year.  95% isn’t good enough.  The Wizards need to make some moves and get some players who will give a better effort, especially on defense.

Then I thought about the blog I wrote last year about the Wizards not giving 100%: 2009/02/15/tell-it-like-it-is-stephen-a-smith/.  You should read it.  It’s pretty good.  This one too – it was about hiring Jeff Van Gundy to coach the Wizards so they could start playing some defense. 2008/12/03/hire-jeff-van-gundy-to-coach-the-washington-wizards/.


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