Posts Tagged ‘Gilbert Arenas’

Will LeBron James stay in Cleveland, or go to NY, NJ, Chicago, Miami, or…Washington?

May 31, 2010

People are starting to talk a little about the possibility of LeBron James playing for the Wizards in addition to the usual suspects of Cleveland, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and Miami.  I personally think he’ll stay in Cleveland, and I almost want him to because I believe in loyalty.  But as a lifelong Bullets/Wizards fan, it would be great to see LeBron play here in D.C.

With overall number one picks Alex Ovechkin, Stephen Strasburg, and John Wall, not to mention Donovan McNabb, do we even have enough room for LeBron?  Of course we do.

An astute observer said in one of the comments to my article on examiner.com that if LeBron signed with the Wizards, and Gilbert stays, they would be the most athletic team in the league, with Wall, Gilbert, LeBron, Blatche, and McGee.

Here’s the article on examiner.com:  Could LeBron James decide to play for the Washington Wizards?

Will LeBron James sign with the Wizards? Is it such a crazy idea?

May 20, 2010

Ok, I don’t pretend to understand all the salary cap stuff, but is it so crazy to think LeBron James could end up in Washington? The main hurdle would seem to be for the Wizards to trade Gilbert Arenas and his huge salary.  I’m sure they’ll try to do that anyway now that they have the chance to draft John Wall.  LeBron would like to play with Wall according to recent buzz.

He wants to be known as a global icon, and while Washington isn’t New York and doesn’t have the international ties of the Nets’ new owner, it is an international city.  Also, with young players like Wall, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, and Nick Young, the Wizards are on the way up, though it’d be another year before they could compete for a title, even with LeBron.  The Wizards already have more talent than the Nets and the Knicks.  The Bulls clearly have the most talent of the teams that are being talked about.  But I don’t think LeBron would want to follow in MJ’s footsteps.

Also, could New York be too big for LeBron after growing up in Akron and playing in Cleveland? Would Washington be a nice compromise between Cleveland and New York?

Personally, I think he will stay in Cleveland, sign a three-year deal, win a title, and then move on so he gets the best of both worlds.

DC is definitely the place to be for sports stars, with Alex Ovechkin, John Wall, Steven Strasburg, and Donovan McNabb.

Nobody thought Reggie White would ever end up in Green Bay.  They had a lot of years between their glory days and their subsequent Super Bowls.  It has been a long time since the Bullets were great, but they do have a great history – you just have to go back a ways.

How about changing the team name back to the Washington Bullets and seeing James in a red, white, and blue uniform?

WIZARDS FALL TO BULLS IN 2 OT, 121-119. Rose Leads Chicago with 37 and Game-Winning Shot.

January 16, 2010

By Mike Frandsen

The Wizards fell to the Chicago Bulls 121-119 last night in a double overtime classic in Chicago.  Antawn Jamison’s 34 points and 18 rebounds weren’t enough as Chicago’s Derrick Rose scored a career high 37, including the game-winner in the second overtime.  The game featured 29 ties and 23 lead changes.

Caron Butler scored 27 for the Wizards and Brendan Haywood had 16 points and a career high 20 rebounds for Washington. Wizards coach Flip Saunders relied heavily on his starters.  Butler played 56 minutes and Jamison played 55.

Earlier in the day, Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge.  The undermanned Wizards, playing without the suspended Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, had just 6 turnovers in a well-played game by both teams.  Wizards guard Randy Foye had 22 points and seven assists though he missed shots at the end of each overtime.

Rose made a short jumper from the left baseline to tie the game at 104 with 26 seconds left in regulation.  Kirk Hinrich stole the ball from Randy Foye with 5.1 seconds left in regulation.

Rose also made the game winner, a short jump hook in the lane with 5.4 seconds left in the second extra period.

The win was the fourth in a row for the Bulls while the Wizards lost their fourth consecutive game.  Washington takes on the Sacramento Kings tonight at 7 at the Verizon Center.

Washington Capitals

January 10, 2010

I went to the Caps-Ottawa Senators game the other night.  Nicklas Backstrom had a great wraparound goal and Alex Ovechkin had another great one as he used his speed to charge straight on at the goal.

I was struck by the fact that almost the whole crowd was wearing red, many of them wearing Alex Ovechkin uniforms.  It was a great decision to change the Caps uniforms back to red, white, and blue, with mostly red. The old uniforms – the blue and bronze that the Wizards currently have – were awful.  The Wizards should change back to red white and blue as well as they’re in the nation’s capital.  It’s be great if the Wizards changed their name back to Bullets but that probably won’t happen in light of the Gilbert Arenas incident.

I noticed for the first time the 1978 Washington Bullets NBA Champions team photo on the side of the Verizon Center.  It’s nice to see that.  They may have just put it up after the death of the owner, Abe Pollin, because there’s also an enlarged photo of Pollin there. That 1978 championship team is one of the most underappreciated championship teams of all-time. The talking heads most closely associated with Washington sports, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, never mention this team.  They arrived in Washington around 1980 and they act as if the championship never happened since it didn’t happen while they were here.

One other measure of how Caps fans are louder than Wizards fans now — and in fact I’m pretty sure it has always been that way — is that I decided to go to a Caps game instead of a Wizards game since I was on a first date. I hate when I’m at a place that is so quiet so the people right next to you can hear your entire conversation.  It’s why going for coffee is a great idea in theory but can be awkward if someone is sitting at the table right next to yours on a laptop.  She and I talked the whole time and at a Wizards game, the people in front, behind, to the left, and to the right of us would have heard every word.  I knew we wouldn’t have that problem at the Caps game and we didn’t.

Wizards Games – The People You See

December 17, 2009

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/.

Tell it like it is, Stephen A. Smith

February 15, 2009

The Washington Wizards have accepted losing.  I applaud Stephen A. Smith of ESPN who today said of the Wizards:

“Simply pathetic…it’s because of two players.  Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison… they are supposed to be all-stars.  I understand you being mediocre because you don’t have Gilbert Arenas.  But 11-42?  That’s pretty pathetic…I don’t care if they’re both averaging 20 points a game.  If you have two all-stars in the starting lineup, you are not supposed to be 31 games under .500 at the all-star break.  That is an atrocity.  And you have to look at those two because clearly, they are not the all-stars we thought they were.”

This brings up two points.  You should always try your best.  Second, the media in DC allows an atmosphere of mediocrity to flourish by not criticizing teams enough.

The Wizards also took a cue from their leader, Arenas, who said, early in the season, “If this is one of those years we don’t make the playoffs, we’re one of those teams that’s in last place the whole year — you know that’s what happened to San Antonio and that’s how they got Tim Duncan. If that happens with us, it’s for the better.”

That’s a losing attitude.  Sometimes, playing badly on purpose (and it’s the same thing as not trying 100%) can help, like it did for the Miami Heat, who gave up last year, finishing 15-67 two years after winning the NBA finals.  That netted them Michael Beasley, the 2nd pick in the draft last year, who has helped the Heat to a 28-24 record so far.

Usually, though, when you don’t give 100%, or you try to be bad on purpose to get a high pick in the next draft, it doesn’t work out.  The Bulls tried that after Jordan retired and it took them 5 years to get respectable, and even after 10 years they’re still just an average team.  The L.A. Clippers franchise has had two winning seasons in the past 29 years.

There is something admirable about trying your best.  Some people would say, “What difference does it make if the Wizards win 20 games or 40 games?  If they don’t make the playoffs it will be better if they lose more to get a better draft pick.”  That leads to an attitude that losing is acceptable, though.

Too often, the sports media in DC looks the other way.  When someone criticizes an organization, a lot of people interpret that as being against that organization (take the example of a whistle blower), when it actually may mean that the person is helping the organization by pointing out areas that need to be improved.   The sports media in DC is soft.  That’s why Wes Unseld remained the Bullets coach for 7 years with a .369 winning percentage.  It’s why Norv Turner made one playoff appearance for the Redskins but lasted 7 years.

Sure, Tom Boswell ripped the Nationals for not signing any free agents until the recent acquisition of Adam Dunn.  Boswell also ripped into the Redskins a few years ago for being too cheery after losses.  But for the most part, the poor play of the Nationals and the mediocrity of the Wizards, Redskins, University of Maryland in both basketball and football is tolerated by the media.  (Maryland has been mediocre in basketball the last five years, and don’t tell me that a college football team that finishes two games above .500 each year is good when three of their early games are against teams that are from much smaller programs).  The Redskins finished .500 this year.  The Cardinals were one game better and made it to the Super Bowl.  What if there was an attitude that being average isn’t good enough?

Most people don’t like honesty.  They avoid the truth.  They want to be politically correct and diplomatic.  Thanks, Stephen A. Smith, for your honesty.

Washington Wizards:  Try your best for the rest of the season.

Hire Jeff Van Gundy to Coach the Washington Wizards

December 3, 2008

On November 24, I was sitting at my laptop putting some of the final touches on the first set of entries for my blog.  I decided that I needed to write that the Washington Wizards should fire coach Eddie Jordan and hire Jeff Van Gundy.  Then, on Sportscenter, I saw that the Wizards had just fired Jordan after his team’s 1-10 start and replaced him with interim head coach Ed Tapscott, who last was a head coach in 1990 for American University.

 

Jordan did a good job overall, leading the Wizards to the playoffs in each of the last four seasons although the Wizards only advanced past the first round of the playoffs once, and that was in his second year.  However, in his 6th season with the team, the Wizards apparently tuned Jordan out, and needed to get rid of a losing attitude.  Injured all-star Gilbert Arenas said it wouldn’t be so bad if the Wizards reached the lottery.  “If this is one of those years we don’t make the playoffs, we’re one of those teams that’s in last place the whole year — you know that’s what happened to San Antonio and that’s how they got Tim Duncan. If that happens with us, it’s for the better.”

 

This attitude of sacrificing the present for the future is a loser mindset.  The Bullets already tried that around 1990 after most of the 80s being, you guessed it, just like the last 5 years – right around .500 with a bunch of playoff appearances.  It took the franchise a decade and a half to recover.  Those mediocre teams in the 80s were viewed as failures because the Bullets had won the NBA championship in 1978 and appeared in the finals three other times in the 70s.  In the 1980s, the Wizards were remarkably consistent, winning between 39 and 43 games each year except once, making the playoffs 7 out of 10 years. 

 

So the Bullets tried to rebuild and went for the lottery.  The idea is to have a bad record, then get lucky and draft a Patrick Ewing, Tim Duncan, or Shaquille O’Neal.  Sometimes it works.  In the Bullets’ case, it didn’t.  What resulted was missing the playoffs 15 of the next 16 seasons.  Thanks, Gilbert, but trying to win is a better option. 

 

After the awful 90s, making the playoffs each of the past four seasons didn’t seem so bad, but the results were not much better than they were in the mid 80s.  Mediocrity has become acceptable in Washington because it seemed good when compared with the long playoff drought that preceded it.  There hasn’t been one column about Jordan’s status as coach in the past month in the Washington Post.  In most other cities, they would’ve been calling for the coach to be fired by now.  At 1-10, though, Jordan had to go.

 

The Wizards have three all-stars – Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison.  Sure, Gilbert is injured and so is starting center Brendan Haywood, but every NBA team has injuries.  The fact is that Eton Thomas is not a huge dropoff from Haywood.  They also have good veteran role players – Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stephenson and Darius Songaila, plus young talent in Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Oleksiy Pecherov, and Javale McGee.  Defense has been a problem with this team for a while – meaning several years. 

 

Former Knicks and Rockets coach Van Gundy has a .575 winning percentage and led his teams to the playoffs in 9 out of 10 full seasons.  True, he had Patrick Ewing with the Knicks and Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady with the Rockets, but 9 of 10 is good – 15 of 16 is even better if you count his years as an assistant with the Knicks, so he’s been around a lot of winning basketball for a lot of years, including appearances in the finals and conference finals.    

 

JVG would add defense and accountability to the Wizards.  I never thought I’d be calling for this brand of basketball, which in the 90s for the Knicks was awful, boring, slow down, fouling, no rhythm, constant free throws basketball.  But I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.  If JVG and Gilbert can get along, it can work.  It’s a big if because McGrady didn’t like JVG at the end.  But who do you want running your team, the players, or the coach?  Defense is an attitude.  Former Wizard Richard Hamilton was awful on defense in DC.  Then when Hamilton he went to Detroit, he became decent, even above average on D to go with his great jump shooting ability.   

 

Other possibilities could be Flip Saunders or Avery Johnson. 

 

Saunders knows the Eastern Conference, having coached the Detroit Pistons each of the last three years.  He has a lifetime winning percentage of .597.  His teams made the playoffs 11 times in 13 seasons, although with Minnesota they only made it out of the first round once (getting to the conference finals), and with Detroit they never made it to the finals (though they did get to the conference finals three years in a row).   

 

Avery Johnson had a ridiculous winning percentage of .735 as the coach of the Dallas Mavericks from 2004 to 2008.  He led the Mavs to the NBA finals in 2006 when they should have beaten the Miami Heat after a 2-0 lead, then led Dallas to a record of 67-15 the following year though they were upset by the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs.  Johnson also emphasizes defense. 

 

If Tapscott does well, I say keep him for a while, but JVG has the experience and the emphasis on defense and rebounding.  I’m just not sure that Tapscott, having only coached at a small Division I university, and 18 years ago at that, will be able to sustain getting the best out of the Wiz after an initial emotional lift that may last a month or two, or even until the end of the season.  We did see Bernie Bickerstaff, though, take over for Jim Lynam in 1997 and lead the Bullets to the playoffs that season, though the Wiz tuned Bickerstaff out a couple of seasons later.  Players usually respect coaches who either played in the NBA (Johnson has the edge there), have won (Johnson, JVG and Saunders have all been deep into the playoffs), or have high profiles (JVG has been an ESPN commentator for two seasons now).  Tapscott doesn’t fall into any of these categories, though he has been around the NBA a long time as a scout, executive, and assistant coach.  I’m just worried the millionaire players won’t respect him as much as they should.  I believe that Grunfeld plans to hire a coach sometime during the season unless the Wizards really respond to Tapscott.

 

Ironically, Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld was fired as GM of the Knicks in 1999 after he lost a power struggle with JVG.  I may be unrealistic in thinking that they could work together, but sometimes rivals years later respect each other and will both do anything it takes to win. 

 

One final comment.  I heard superagent David Falk rip Abe Pollin for firing Eddie Jordan.  Falk is Michael Jordan’s agent and was obviously critical of the way Pollin let MJ go as President of the Wizards in 2003.  It looks like Falk is holding a grudge.  Today on WTEM, the DC sports radio station, Falk said Pollin made the move to fire Eddie Jordan because of his age and the fact that he wants to win now.  First of all, I’m not sure of that.  Grunfeld was hired two weeks after Eddie Jordan was, so Eddie Jordan wasn’t Grunfeld’s choice.  I think it was largely Grunfeld’s decision to fire Eddie Jordan.

 

Falk said Abe is the only constant in the last 30 years since the Bullets’ last championship, implying that he is the only reason that the Wizards haven’t won a title since then.  The fact is that there are a lot of teams who haven’t won a championship since then.  Only 9 franchises have won the title since the Bullets did.  Do you think the Bulls won 6 titles in the 1990s because of owner Jerry Reinsdorf?  Pollin doesn’t have too many years left, but Falk still has to criticize him and hold a grudge for the contentious negotiations that ultimately resulted in Falk’s client Juwan Howard, the definition of a mediocre player, getting a 100 million dollar contract from the Wizards, which set the franchise back for more than 5 years.    

 

Ernie, forget your pride and give JVG a call.