Many Wizards fans reacted with horror to Monday night’s news that team president Ernie Grunfeld would be back for another season at the helm of their basketball team.
To give just one of dozens of examples, here’s ardent Wizards fan, professional pessimist and 106.7 The Fan host Danny Rouhier, on Twitter: “I love the Washington Wizards. They got worse today. A tacit endorsement telling all of us that everything is fine. It isn’t.”
Because of all the angst flying around the Internet, I figured I should chill out and go deep into the archives, back to the 2003 offseason, when Michael Jordan was fired and Grunfeld hired.
The Wizards were then coming off consecutive 37-45 seasons and had not won a playoff series since 1982. Things were bleak. In nine seasons under Grunfeld, they have won one playoff series, finished with a .500 or better record four times and failed to reach MJ’s 37-win threshold five times.
“I look forward to a challenge,” Grunfeld said at his introductory presser. “It’s going to be competitive and we’re going to do it the right way. We want to be a team that can be a playoff contender for many years to come. We’re not going to try to use Band-Aids and put anything out there.”
“I enjoy winning,” Grunfeld said in a Boswell column that week. “I’m not going to be too happy if we are not winning. But I understand that it’s a process. It can’t be done overnight. [Ultimately] we want to be a contender for years to come.”
Yes, there were injuries and off-the-court disasters and the death of an owner. But just after Grunfeld was hired, The Post ran an A1 story on the decline of the franchise, writing that the ugly split with Jordan “seems emblematic of an organization unable to break from nearly a quarter-century of losing,” and decrying “a culture of mediocrity that is responsible for the Wizards . . . becoming one of the worst teams in NBA.”
A decade later, those ugly words still fit.
BECAUSE YOU DON’T READ THE PAPER . . .
Wise argues that based on his job, “Ernie Grunfeld has done his job and deserves to return as the team president.”
Wise also apparently argues that negativity from Caps fans “actually hurts their team’s chances of upsetting the defending Stanley Cup champions on the Bruins’ home ice.”
Danny Espinosa, on the 12-4 Nats: “We’re not even playing that well, in my eyes.”
Washington’s summer tennis tourney “is getting a dramatic makeover that will include a new title sponsor, stadium upgrades and shared billing with an existing tournament for rising women’s players.”
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Nene on whether he’s the key for the Wizards’ late-season run:
“I’m not the key. If I'm the key, who's the door?”
PHOTO OF THE DAY
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
The Orioles host Toronto at 7 on MASN, and the Nats visit the Padres at 10 on MASN2. If you’re insanely optimistic and like scouting future opponents, the Panthers play the Devils at 7:30 on NBC Sports Network. All TV/Radio listings are here.
Tremendous Alex Ovechkin game-tying goal celebration photos.
Intrepid work showing Ian Desmond stealing the batting helmets of teammates after they hit home runs.
One angry blogger has compiled the top 10 list of Grunfeld mistakes.
Chien Ming Wang apologizes for cheating on his wife.
Former New York Times columnist and “Veep” executive producer Frank Rich: “It’s a very rare, idiosyncratic thing to have grown up in Washington not as a part of a political family.” Pfffffft. (Via Washington City Paper.)