Reflections on a disappointing season…
Writing that title felt weird.
I imagine it felt as weird as Trump’s staff feels writing statements only to have the president refute them in a tweet storm.
Hey, I live in DC and this is about the Wizards, it wouldn’t be right without a joke about the current administration.
But I digress.
By all intents and purposes the Wizards shouldn’t have even been in the semi-finals. They shouldn’t have pushed the number one seed in the east to seven games. They shouldn’t have sparked a national conversation about how they could give Cleveland a run for their money in the Eastern Conference Finals.
But they did.
So why does it feel like this season was a waste?
I should note I haven’t always been a Wizards fan. I didn’t grow up in the DMV area and when I was a kid Michael Jordan ruled the universe and my heart belonged to Muggsy Bogues and those scrappy Charlotte Hornets.
Fast forward an undisclosed amount of time, because you don’t need to know quite how old I am, and I’ve gone into full blown Wizards fandom.
It began after I started dating this tall, gangly, ball is life, John Wall is god, dude (who I’m still dating, thank you very much!).
One of our first conversations, the night we met, was about basketball. I mentioned I was a Hornets fan and he said they were playing the Wizards the following month. Wanting to get to know this bearded giant (he’s 6’8, so yeah… giant) I said we should go.
We did. I rocked my Hornets jersey, he was decked out in John Wall. It would be the first of more games than I can count that we’d go to together.
The following season, he had season tickets. We went to a lot of games, some of which (Hornets, Cleveland) I wore the opposing teams’ jerseys. A thing I shade people for now.
That season wasn’t even disappointing. It was just… there. The Wizards failed to make the playoffs. There was infighting among the superstars. Massive changes needed to happen.
I kind of rolled my eyes at it all and followed the Cavaliers into an unprecedented championship. (For the record, my family is from Cleveland, so you can keep that “bandwagon” nonsense out of your mouths.)
The boyfriend didn’t re-up his season tickets.
This season started like many expected it to… in disaster. A 2–8 start. We had a new coach, but it didn’t seem to be working. The adjustments made in the offseason seemed like a joke.
The boyfriend and I were glad we didn’t shell out money to go to game after game to watch the team lose.
But then something happened.
The Wizards started to turn things around. I’m not sure how or why any of this happened. But they started to win. And they started to be fun to watch.
Instead of coming home and turning on my usual menagerie of terrible cable dramas, I found myself watching more games. Listening to more ESPN.
The boyfriend and I started going to games. Some random ones. Some like the crazy OT loss to Cleveland, which remains one of the top five games I’ve seen live.
I stopped wearing the jerseys of opposing teams. LeBron and Muggsy got pushed to the back of the closet. (Well, until that road trip to Charlotte to see the Wizards take on the Hornets… I had to rock Muggsy there.)
I bought a throwback Bullets shirt. And then a hat. And then the boyfriend (after losing a bet years ago) bought me an Otto Porter jersey.
My superstitions came out. I couldn’t watch a game without that jersey on. Without the hat on my head.
As the season went on, it became clear, we were going to the playoffs.
The boyfriend and I started talking. About how exciting this was. About how this team was different. About how we want to see every team play on their home floor.
We looked at our budgets and decided we wanted to be season ticket holders again.
Buying those tickets guaranteed our seats throughout the Wizards’ run in the playoffs.
For the first time in awhile, when it came to the Wizards, we were excited. We were hopeful.
I studied the brackets. Read about match ups. Would tell anyone who would listen (namely the boyfriend and the random coworker who wouldn’t tell me to shut up) that the Wizards didn’t match up well against the Heat. If we didn’t have to play them, I was sure we could make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
I subscribed to every basketball podcast I could find. Listening for nuggets about my team.
I added every sports push alert possible to my phone.
I let myself hope that this was going to be the real deal.
We all know how that turned out.
I guess I should take solace in the fact that during the playoffs, I never had to see them lose at home. Even Boston fans can’t say that.
But I can’t.
Less than 12 hours later, it still stings too much.
I get it, it’s “just sports” and blah blah blah.
And sure, that’s not wrong.
But it doesn’t make it sting any less. It doesn’t make watching today’s news that much more depressing (and let’s be honest, it was depressing enough on it’s own) because I know I don’t have a game to look forward to tomorrow.
I pride myself on being stoic. On being kind of a bitch who doesn’t let things get under her skin.
The boyfriend has only ever seen me cry a few times. One time was when the Panthers lost in the Super Bowl. One was Election Day. One was last night.
Maybe I take sports too seriously.
All of this is to say, I’m disappointed. I thought this team would be different. I thought after the Capitals. After the Election. After the god awful excuse for a football team in this town, that DC deserved some good news.
It wasn’t meant to be.
That doesn’t mean I’m not hopeful or (very) cautiously optimistic about next season. I still think the Wizards are one of the better teams in the East.
And based on the other teams in this town, I think they’re one of our better bets for making a conference finals.
But for now, I’m disappointed at what could’ve been.
Last week, after weeks of searching, I finally found a seller selling the “Death Row DC” shirts that had gotten so much hype.
I’m not sure I’ve ever pulled out my credit card faster.
In a great twist of irony it arrives today.
Must be the basketball gods twisting the knife just a little bit more.
I struggled with how to end this.
“Twisting the knife” just seemed too bleak… but I’m not feeling hella positive right now.
I guess if there is a silver lining to any of this, it’s the fact that the Wizards are still a young team. Scott Brooks is only one year in.
There are good things that can come of this… though let’s not dwell on salary issues and how hard it’ll be to fix our atrocious bench right now.
One of these days, it will happen. The Wizards will advance.
And after years and years of disappointment and heartache, it’ll be that much sweeter.
But for now, the “Death Row DC” shirt is going to go into a drawer (not for too long though, it’s that awesome). The Otto jersey is going to the back of the closet. The Bullets hat next to the Hornets one.
Everything will be ready for the Wizards’ redemption.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t take us another 30 some years to get there.
Jamison is one half of the Get Buckets Podcast. She lives in Washington, DC, loves basketball, Beyoncé, and just thinks it’s a hoot when people tell her that her name is also a whiskey.