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May 16, 2005

With loss, sad to see the Wizards ride reach its end

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
When the Washington Wizards' season ended last night at the hands of the Miami Heat, I was disappointed that their year was over. Sure, they had a great run and I didn't actually expect them to beat Miami, but I was still sad. Not because they didn't win the NBA title, but because their great ride in the 2005 season came to an end.

The 49-43 Wizards gave D.C. basketball fans a payoff for years of 19-63 seasons, $150 Jerry Stackhouse authentic jerseys, and drug bust after drug bust. They were a fun team to watch, they filled up the basket, and were a charismatic group of guys off the court.

For me, one of the reasons I enjoy watching and following sports so much is not just for the action on the court. Every one of these seasons plays out like your favorite TV show in a way, only none of its scripted. Sure, the games are great to watch, but the off the court drama that plays out on local news and media is great as well.

But now that the season is over, the Wizards' players caught the first flight back home to where they live, and the final episode has come and gone. Too bad; it was a fun run and I wanted it to go on as long as possible.

A season is a marathon, and its fun to watch a team develop and gel throughout the course of a season. Personally, I love following the team in The Washington Post and various other sites.

Actually, though, this year brought less juicy locker room drama than past years. There was no Michael Jordan calling Kwame Brown a "[bleeping] [bleepot]," no Christian Laettner making the rest of the locker room crazy, no Stackhouse assaulting an old woman at her beach house, and no Rod Strickland.

But I will miss Gilbert Arenas throwing his jersey into the crowd every night, then seemingly being incapable of understanding the gravity of certain moments of a game. I'll miss Mike Wise's "Posting Up" column in the Post. I'll miss reading about 7'3" backup center/silk model Peter "Party John" Ramos (as Wise calls him), and other local inside jokes that a fan nationally wouldn't get.

I enjoyed the analysis of the team, day after day, from radio shows, to local TV like Channel 4's "Full Court Press," and other stories about the team. I'll miss the unpredictability, and the ups and downs, especially when they're simultaneous. Like when Larry Hughes helped the Wiz beat Phoenix, the best team in the NBA, breaking his thumb in the process.

I enjoyed talking about how the team could upgrade at the trade deadline. (They didn't.) I liked debating things throughout the season, and watching as other teams struggled and surprised. The season was good drama, without a doubt. It was like "Days of Our Lives," only instead of starring sweaty, muscular men, the NBA starred…well, they're actually pretty similar.

When the regular season ended, I was sad that was over as well. I liked reading about other teams' miserable franchises. I loved reading about the Portland Trail Blazers, to find out which one cursed out the head coach today. When Toronto coach Sam Mitchell allegedly fought with then-team star Vince Carter, I couldn't get enough.

The NBA season is perfect; 82 games. Not too much on-court overkill, but enough frequency between games that allows for a perfect mix to follow your team.

I loved talking about the game the night before, and about how I would have drawn up a game-winning play. I enjoyed reading the NBA analysis every weekend in the New York Times and all over the Internet. Sure, it's probably nerdy, but hey; some people have the "O.C." I have pro basketball.

Washington was so refreshing to watch this season. The team was exciting, classy, full of good people, and totally clueless on defense. In short, it was amazing television.

Thankfully I've still got a month of NBA Playoff action left to satisfy my basketball joneses. But the Wizards were something special this year, after so many years of garbage. That's what made this run so refreshing; it was like after 20 years of watching a public access show, the Wizards became Emmy-quality television.

During the off-season, it'll be neat to watch how the Wizards try to keep their nucleus and karma together for next year, where 10 teams at least will battle for the eight NBA playoff spots in the East. Juan Dixon, Larry Hughes and Kwame Brown are free agents. Who stays and who goes? It's just like "Making The Band 2," only better, because Da Band was some garbage to start with.

But the season on the court is over, and that's disappointing. Not because they didn't win it all, but because it inevitably had to end.

I just can't wait for next season's premiere in October.



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  • SI on May 16, 2005 at 7:44 AM
    hey rick reiley! stop writing for SCO. you belong here!
  • Pratik Bhandari on May 19, 2005 at 9:24 PM
    this is really great...good job mike
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