Posts Tagged ‘Washington Wizards’

Washington Wizards draft Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack

June 24, 2011

Shelvin Mack (1) watches Pitt's Gilbert Brown shoot a free throw during Butler's NCAA tournament win over the top-seeded Panthers last March at Verizon Center. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

The Washington Wizards drafted an athletic European forward, a tough defender from the ACC, and a solid combo guard who played in back-to-back national championship games Thursday.  In Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack, Washington hopes it has three players who will be able to contribute immediately.

With the sixth overall pick, the Wizards selected Vesely, a 6-11, 240 pound forward from the Czech Republic who helped his team, Partizan Belgrade, to the Serbian championship last season.  Vesely, 21, is known as an athletic dunker, and when ESPN’s Mark Jones suggested he could be the “European Blake Griffin,” Vesely responded, “Blake Griffin is the American Jan Vesely.”  After being picked, the crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. cheered wildly after Vesely kissed his longtime girlfriend.

In Belgrade, Vesely regularly played in front of crowds of 22,000.  One of his teammates in 2011 was former Maryland Terrapin James Gist, also known for high flying dunks.  Gist spoke about Vesely to Frank Lawlor of Euroleague.net last February.  “He is the most athletic player I have seen in a while, and it’s great to play with a guy like that,” Gist said of the Czech star.  “It helps to have someone like him. If for some reason I can’t get the crowd going, he’s right there behind me to do it.”

For the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.

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Washington Post Bog’s Dan Steinberg: Will Wizards change name to Washington Monuments?

May 12, 2011

Washington Bullets Wes Unseld retro jersey. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

After a local sports blogger sent a tweet out asking if the Washington Wizards were thinking of changing their name to the Washington Monuments, the Post’s Dan Steinberg raised the topic on his Sports Bog.  Steinberg noted that the Washington Monument is featured in the Wizards’ new red, white, and blue uniforms and one of the logos unveiled Tuesday, and the name of the group that owns the Wizards, Caps, and Mystics is called Monumental Sports and Enterainment.

Steinberg is an often entertaining and sometimes informative writer. He regularly refers back to the original sources from which he gets his information. He’s an expert at scouring the internet and old sports archives to find out what was written years ago. That’s why I’m a bit disappointed that he didn’t credit me for originally mentioning the possible Washington Monuments name in an article I wrote for Examiner.com June 11, 2010, even after I emailed him about it yesterday. Maybe the Post doesn’t like to update online stories after they have originally been published.  Here’s an excerpt from that article I wrote 11 months ago.

“In an email Thursday to fans of Leonsis’ other major sports franchise, the Capitals, he wrote, “By now you have probably heard the news that my partners and I have completed our purchase of the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center and created a new company – Monumental Sports & Entertainment – that owns those entities as well as the Capitals and the Mystics.”

The Washington Monuments?

Could the Wizards change their name to the “Washington Monuments” in the future? Though Leonsis denied the possibility of any name change, the name of the new company could be a clue to a future franchise name. “Monumental Sports” is an awkward name, but “Washington Monuments” does have a ring to it. If Leonsis had mentioned a name change as a possibility, speculation by the media and fans could have taken away from the product on the court, so it was smart for Leonsis to deny the possibility of a potential future name change. Leonsis has said he doesn’t want to disrespect the wishes of Pollin, who stated that he changed the name from Bullets to Wizards because of the city’s gun violence, so a name change back to the Bullets would be a long shot.

The Washington Monuments goes with the Capitals theme, as the Washington Monument stands at the other end of the national mall from the Capitol. The name also identifies the team with something that is uniquely Washington, and the Washington Monument, like a basketball player, is very tall. There would also be no problem with franchises in other sports and leagues for rights to the name.

There’s no natural short nickname for Monuments like there is for the other local franchises – Skins, Caps, Nats, and United – but they could be called the “M’s” for short, as Seattle calls its Mariners. Or could the “Monsters” be a shortened version? The team could market the Monuments and the Capitals together, on the same shirt for example, with a scene of the Capitol and the Washington Monument.  The Verizon Center is also in fairly close proximity to the national mall.”

Anyway, for the record, while the Monuments name makes some sense, I don’t think it would be a good idea to rename the team “Monuments,” which would be the franchise’s third name in 15-20 years.  I still hold out hope, as most old Bullets fans do, that Ted Leonsis will rename the team the Bullets in a couple of years, because it never should have been changed in the first place. It’s probably a longshot, but longtime Bullets fans can only hope that Leonsis will at least consider the option.

As for Steinberg, he said in a video chat that he suggests the name “Justice like everybody wants.”  Wait, what?  Steinberg and his Post colleague Mike (un) Wise suggest “Justice,” but there’s no way that “everybody wants” that.  That would be a huge mistake.  The vast majority of fans want the team to return to its Bullets name.  Steinberg and Wise don’t care about the team’s great history, which includes an NBA championship in 1978, because they weren’t here then, and you have to do more than look up old articles to understand D.C. sports.

To read my D.C. sports articles on Examiner.com, click here.

Washington Wizards unveil red, white and blue uniforms, invoking memories of Bullets history

May 12, 2011

The Washington Wizards unveiled their new red, white, and blue uniforms Tuesday. The uniforms are similar to those of the old Washington Bullets.

“You’ve gotta be a fan of old D.C. to know what the Bullets mean to me.”

  Bullets Feverby Nils Lofgren, 1978.

Don’t look now, but something good just happened to a Washington, D.C. sports team.  The Washington Wizards unveiled their new, back to the future, red, white, and blue uniforms Tuesday at the Verizon Center.  While owner Ted Leonsis isn’t changing the name of the franchise back to the Bullets, the overwhelming majority of the fan base is happy with the retro look, if internet comments are any indication.

Leonsis promised the color scheme change last year and delivered, with a home version reminiscent of old Bullets uniforms, and a road uniform that is mostly red, with “Washington” on the front and the name “Wizards” conspicuously absent.

Wizards guards John Wall and Jordan Crawford modeled the home and away versions of the uniforms, while former Bullets greats Elvin Hayes and Bobby Dandridge stood on stage and helped unveil the new uniforms.

In addition to the Big E and Bobby D, more than 20 former Bullets were in attendance, including Phil Chenier, Kevin Grevey, Clem Haskins, Tom Henderson, Rick Mahorn, Gheorghe Muresan, Kevin Porter, Mike Riordan, Jeff Ruland, and Larry Wright. Former Bullets general manager Bob Ferry also attended the ceremony.

Leonsis has made a commitment to honor the team’s great history, as evidenced by the uniform change and the establishment of the Bullets/Wizards Alumni Association.  Leonsis changed the uniforms just one year after he took over the team, and the connection to the franchise’s old players is long overdue.  The Bullets’ historic past includes an NBA championship in 1978, three other trips to the finals in the 1970s, and 18 playoff appearances in 20 seasons from 1969 to 1988.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Washington Wizards’ 0-24 road start is an indictment of Ted Leonsis, Flip Saunders, John Wall

February 1, 2011

It’s almost time for the Super Bowl, and the Washington Wizards are still winless on the road.  The Wizards lost their 24th straight road game, Monday, 102-92 in Dallas.

There is no shame in losing to the Mavericks (32-15) in Dallas.  But the Wizards should not be 0-24 away from Chinatown.

How can the Wizards be so much better at home (13-10) than on the road?  The disparity in records doesn’t make sense because the Verizon Center crowd isn’t known for being particularly enthusiastic, and Washington ranks just 20th in the NBA in attendance.

It’s harder for NBA teams to win on the road than teams in other sports because basketball players need fresh legs and play more minutes than other athletes, but long road trips don’t explain the Wizards going winless on the road.  The Wizards have a young, athletic lineup so endurance shouldn’t be a problem.

Are the Wizards partying too much on the road?  Do they have a careless attitude?  Is it immaturity? Coaching?  Low expectations?  All of the above?

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

John Wall, Yi Jianlian lead Wizards to 98-91 win over Rockets, Yao Ming leaves with injury

November 11, 2010

Yi Jianlian of the Washington Wizards. Photo by Mike Frandsen

Chinese basketball stars Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian faced off Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., but it was rookie John Wall who stole the show with a triple-double as the Wizards (2-4) defeated the Houston Rockets 98-91.

The 7-6 Yao, who helped make basketball the most popular sport in China, had to leave the game after six minutes because of a strained tendon in his left foot.  Meanwhile, his protégé, the 7-foot Yi, had his best game in a Wizards uniform, scoring 13 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and blocking four shots in front of 16,665 on Asian American night at Verizon Center in a game that more than 400,000 people in China were expected to watch early in the morning.

Wall and Yi hooked up for one of the plays of the game in the third quarter, when Wall passed to Yi for one of his 13 assists. Yi drove past Luis Scola of the Rockets (1-6) on the baseline and threw down a dunk to give Washington a 68-63 lead late in the third quarter.

Yi grabs one of his seven rebounds against Houston Wednesday. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Wall, the number one pick in the 2010 NBA draft, also had 19 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and only one turnover.

Wall became the sixth player in the history of the NBA to have a triple-double in the first six games of his career. One of those players was Magic Johnson, who was in attendance, sitting to the left of the Wizards’ bench next to owner Ted Leonsis.

For the rest of the article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

Washington Wizards to change colors back to red, white, and blue for 2011-2012 season

September 23, 2010

 

Kevin Grevey goes up for a shot in the Washington Bullets' old red, white and blue uniforms, circa 1980.

 

Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld announced that the Wizards will change their colors back to red, white and blue for the 2011-2012 season, a move that has been rumored for months.

This comes as great news for longtime Washington Bullets fans, who never liked the change of the name to Wizards or the change of the colors to blue and bronze.

Unfortunately, the Wizards will probably never go back to the name Bullets, but at least owner Ted Leonsis will change the colors back to red, white, and blue, fitting for a team in the nation’s capital.  The Wizards, Caps, and Nats will all wear patriotic colors.

(The Redskins can’t change from burgundy and gold – they have such a great tradition with those colors, but wasn’t it great to see the Skins wearing gold pants?  The team is paying homage to its great past.)

Here’s hoping that the Wizards’ new unis won’t be 99% red like the Caps’ and Nats’ uniforms.  Keep some blue.  Also, add back the stars on the shorts.  The photo to the left shows former Bullet Kevin Grevey in the Bullets’ old road uniforms.  The photo below shows a retro Wes Unseld home uniform.  Both were among the best in the history of the NBA.

It’s a great move by Leonsis, but it’s also a no-brainer.  Now maybe Leonsis will improve the Wizards’ website and add more history about the old Bullets.  It’s a shame that that 1978 championship team has been virtually forgotten.

(It doesn’t help that the deans of DC sports media, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, both arrived in D.C. a couple of years after the Bullets’ title, so they always pretend it never happened.  They’ll talk a ton about the Knicks and the Bulls of the 1970s, though.)

 

This retro Wes Unseld jersey has become one of the NBA's biggest sellers. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

 

In emails over the last several months, Leonsis has vowed to improve the franchise’s recognition of its great history, but quite frankly, Leonsis hasn’t kept his word.

I complained multiple times that it was impossible — not hard, but impossible — to get an Elvin Hayes Bullets jersey from the Wizards or anywhere on the internet.  (Ok, you can get one from southeast Asia on ebay, but it doesn’t look right).  Keep in mind that the Big E was the 23rd-best player in the history of the NBA according to Slam Magazine, ahead of players such as Bob Cousy, David Robinson, Willis Reed, Kevin Garnett, Wes Unseld, Walt Frazier, and Patrick Ewing.

Leonsis assured me that someone would get back to me — no one ever did.  I left messages with Wizards’ personnel and no one called back, and no one really knew what I was talking about.

Being a great owner takes more than designing a good website and not being Daniel Snyder.  It takes keeping your word.

Also see the following Examiner articles and blog posts:

Leonsis won’t change name of Wizards to Bullets but may change colors back to red, white and blue

Part 1: Former Washington Bullet Kevin Grevey on the ’78 NBA title season, Kentucky, and the Wizards

Part 2: Former Washington Bullet Kevin Grevey on the ’78 NBA title season, Kentucky, and the Wizards

32 years ago: Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, and Washington Bullets win NBA championship

Should the Washington Wizards change their name back to the Bullets?

Former Washington Bullet Mitch Kupchak: 8 NBA championship rings

Mitch Kupchak and the 1978 Washington Bullets: NBA Champions


NBA Draft: Wizards get Wall with top pick, Hoyas’ Monroe goes to Detroit, Terps’ Vasquez to Memphis

June 24, 2010

As has been expected ever sinceWashington won the NBA Draft Lottery last month, the Wizards selected Kentucky point guard John Wall with the first selection in the draft Thursday night.

Also in the first round, former Georgetown center Greg Monroe was selected seventh by the Detroit Pistons and former Maryland point guard Greivis Vasquez was taken 28th by the Memphis Grizzlies.

Vasquez, Maryland’s second all-time leading scorer, jumped up and down when his name was called and hugged his parents. Vasquez told ESPN, “We have a great roster. Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo…I just can’t wait to get to training camp and work hard. This means a lot to me and my country back in Venezuela.”

The only other time the Wizards had the number one pick was in 2001 when they selected Kwame Brown right out of high school, but Brown turned out to be a bust. Wall, however, is expected to be close to a sure thing. He averaged 16.6 points and 6.5 assists during his only season at Kentucky and was a Consensus First Team All-America.

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Leonsis won’t change name of Wizards to Bullets but may change colors back to red, white and blue

June 11, 2010

Check out this awesome Bullets jersey.

New Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said Thursday he will not change the name of the Wizards, but said a change in colors back to the traditional red, white, and blue is likely at some point. Leonsis also asked the fans to welcome back former all-star guard Gilbert Arenas.

Leonsis formally took over ownership of the Wizards Wednesday. Recent speculation has centered on whether the Wizards will change their team colors and even their name after the upcoming season, with many fans clamoring to a return to the Bullets, the team’s name from 1963 to 1997.

Interest in the Wizards is high again after they won the rights to the number one pick in the NBA Draft Lottery last month. What was the good luck charm? Irene Pollin wore her late husband Abe’s 1978 Washington Bullets NBA championship ring.

For the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.

Excerpt:

The Washington Monuments?

Could the Wizards change their name to the “Washington Monuments” in the future? Though Leonsis denied the possibility of any name change, the name of the new company could be a clue to a future franchise name. “Monumental Sports” is an awkward name, but “Washington Monuments” does have a ring to it. If Leonsis had mentioned a name change as a possibility, speculation by the media and fans could have taken away from the product on the court, so it was smart for Leonsis to deny the possibility of a potential future name change. Leonsis has said he doesn’t want to disrespect the wishes of Pollin, who stated that he changed the name from Bullets to Wizards because of the city’s gun violence, so a name change back to the Bullets would be a long shot

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?

Could LeBron James decide to play for the Washington Wizards?

May 30, 2010

Ten days ago, this reporter blogged that LeBron James should play for the Washington Wizards.

Is it so crazy to think James could end up in Washington? New York, New Jersey, Miami and Chicago have been the teams most often mentioned, but so far not many people have talked about James coming to D.C., except a few wacky writers.

For LeBron to come to Washington, the Wizards would most likely have to trade Gilbert Arenas. The Wizards are expected to attempt to trade Arenas anyway now that they have the chance to draft Kentucky point guard John Wall with the first overall pick. LeBron would like to play with Wall according to recent reports.

To read the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.