Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Friday, December 10, 2004

We Have A Winner

I complain a lot on this page about how pathetic DC area sports teams are (with the exception, of course, of MLS Champion DC United...but few will concede that soccer is a sport). Between the Skins, Caps, Wiz, and now Nationals, there is a lot of pain and suffering going on in the heads and hearts of DC area sports fans. Being a Maryland fan usually doesn't help much, because as a graduate I have way too much emotion invested in wins and losses, particularly against our daddy, Puke (aka Dook or "Duke").

Flying under the radar screen this season, however, is the Washington Wizards who just a game ago were in first place in the Eastern Conference. Tony Kornheiser, of course, sums it up perfectly in a column with the hilarious headline "10 Wins? Are We In 2005 Already?":

I wasn't a math major, but I'm pretty sure if you're 10-5, that more or less blows your chances of being 9-20. (I just checked the newspaper again, and it still says the Wizards are 10-5. Hold on, let me check A2 for "Corrections.") It's been so long since the Wizards weren't 9-20 that it's hard to conceive of what might happen in terms of economic upheaval or geothermal cataclysm. The truth is, I can't remember the last time the Wizards weren't 9-20. But I think it was even before Barry Bonds started using steroids -- whoops, excuse me, flaxseed oil. (Suggested motto for flaxseed oil: "When your head is three times the size it used to be, you'll thank us.")

You may want to sit down for this tidbit: If the NBA playoffs started today (and I strongly advocate that), the Wizards would not only be in them -- they would have home-court advantage. With Orlando losing in Denver last night, at this very moment the Wizards' record of 10-5 is, oh my God, THE BEST IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE!!! So please, let's stop the regular season right now before the whole shebang goes bust.

Since the brief Bernard King glory days of my youth, the Bullets/Wizards have served one purpose for me: object of glorious ridicule. First of all, the team changed its name from something cool to something excessively lame to satisfy the sensibilities of some do-gooders against the wishes of nearly the entire populace. Second, I attended the debut of the "new," winning Bullets when Chris Webber and Juwan Howard took the floor together for the first time. The new Bullets made a single playoff appearance, swept in three games by the Bulls. The two "Fab" treats were worth the millions wasted as the perfect, crystal-clear patsies for the fans' enmity as they partied, sped, intoxicated, groped, and stoned themselves out of town. Third, fat, out-of-shape Michael Jordan and his ego failed to prevent the Wiz from posting the magical 9-20 record Tony K. refers to. The Wiz seemingly sport that same record each and every season. Fourth, the Wiz enjoyed one playoff appearance in the last 15 years or so, a near statistical impossibility in a league that is generous with its playoff admission policies. And finally, the Wizards are an NBA franchise. 'Nuff said. For all of these reasons, I could really care less what happens between November and April at the MCI Center.

However, I'm starting to get worried that I might be losing a significant source of DC sports futility and the attendant trove of absurd injuries, player fights, pre-game pizza and hotdog eating, poor trades, draft curses, and Abe Pollin/Wes Unseld/[insert overrated/underperforming player here]-spite that I have enjoyed all these last 15+ seasons.

Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel:

Excuse me, Tony, but you're getting dangerously close to being carried away. Don't you remember The Curse O' Les Boulez? You should. You identified it first. Can't you just feel something terrible is about to happen?

Ah, we all feel it. We all look at that 10-5 and say to ourselves, "Misprint." We're all expecting the bottom to drop out. The way Washingtonians root for the Wizards is like they did in Anatevka in czarist Russia: Hope for the best, expect the worst. Maybe Hughes will tear something. Arenas has shown knucklehead tendencies; maybe he'll space out. Maybe Kwame Brown's return will tip the delicate pH balance.

But in Antawn Jamison, the Wizards have the most reliable player they've had since that one incredible season Bernard King gave them in 1990-91. It's impossible to overstate what Jamison might mean here. First of all, he can score 25 points without taking 25 shots. Plus, he is a player and a leader the others can look up to -- particularly Arenas, who thinks of him as a big brother and counselor. At 28, Jamison doesn't seem to have the "issues" Webber and Howard had here. And he's right around his physical peak as a player. So, of course, he'll tear his ACL to ribbons tomorrow.


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