On the Wizards and optimism


(Nick Wass/AP)

 

Only an intense crank and/or David Falk would argue that the Wizards aren’t headed in the right direction. They had moments of extreme promise late in the season. They persevered through injury and distraction. They showed flashes of confidence. And they made it clear that the future will almost certainly be better.

The problem is, we’ve been saying those things annually since the Arenas-era playoff trips ended. A quick scan of the archives reveals things said in 2009, ’10, ’11 and ‘12 that might as well have been said last week. These quotes all came from either March or April of seasons that finished with sub-.400 winning percentages.

On the Playoffs

1. “I think if we get the right pieces and everybody just [comes] in with the right mind-set, we want to be one of the top five, top six teams in the East….We want to be a team that’s in the playoffs.” — John Wall, April 2011

2. “We should be fine next season, definitely a playoff team if we play how we played at the end.” — Andray Blatche, April 2011

3. “We’re fighting for each other and showing each other we deserve to be in the playoffs, that we can actually play playoff-caliber basketball.” — Martell Webster, April 2013

4. “I now expect the Wizards to transition from a work-in-progress to a team that competes for a playoff spot.” — Ted Leonsis, April 2012

By Rob Carr/Getty.
By Rob Carr/Getty.

On the Future

5. “This season is going to pay dividends, as far as what we want to do in the future. As of late, we’ve had a lot of individual success with players. Next year, that’s going to turn into team success.” — Flip Saunders, April 2011

6. “In spite of everything, next year will be better. I promise you that.” — Irene Pollin, April 2010

7. “We hope that this will give people a bit of a preview of what we think we will be next year. This is what we thought we would be this year. It’s nice to be able to capture some of that here at the end.” — Ed Tapscott, April 2009

8. “It feels like we’re going to [carry] momentum into next year. It’s a great feeling knowing that we have a stable group that knows how to play together.” — JaVale McGee, April 2011

9. “It takes time to build and get what you want and I feel like this is a great team that we have. If we [were] healthy, we’d easily be a top five team in the East. All we can do is keep going, keep getting better and get ready for next season.” — John Wall, March 2013

On Injuries

10. “It was good just to see everybody healthy, see what it could possibly be like in the future.” — Brendan Haywood, April 2009

11. “We got some guys hurt, but that’s what happens. Nobody is complaining about it. You just have to move forward, some guys stepped up, and we just got to keep playing basketball.” — John Wall, April 2012

12. “Wish we could start the season all over again, 100 percent healthy, but we can’t. You just have to live with what you got.” — Martell Webster, March 2013

13. “I don’t know if we ever had the group that we put together in the summertime. I don’t know if we had all those guys play together at all the whole year.” — Flip Saunders, April 2010

14. “We aren’t just missing players, we are missing starters and rotation players….The team is once again focused on getting its players healthy and back into the lineup.” — Ted Leonsis, March 2013

15. “No question, you’re disappointed because we never had a chance to get the full team we expected to get on the floor at one time, all year. No question, that gets frustrating.” — Flip Saunders, April 2011

On Confidence

16. “As long as players keep playing with confidence, we can do a lot of things. The difference tonight was confidence and getting important stops.” — Jordan Crawford, April 2012

17. “When you win a few games like that, you start believing, thinking that you’re supposed to win those games.” — A.J. Price, April 2013

18. “The funny thing is every time we go out, we expect to win every night. We are starting as a clean slate. As a young team, I don’t think they are looking beyond that night.” — Flip Saunders, April 2010

19. “See the players’ confidence building. See players developing right before your eyes. That is what a rebuild is all about.” — Ted Leonsis, April 2011

On Showing Progress and Still Fighting

20. “The team has bonded. They want to win every game and they don’t want the season to end. That is great to see.” — Ted Leonsis, April 2011

21. “We’re getting stronger and we’re getting healthy and next year is a big season. I’m going to cherish every moment next year, and it starts now.” — Caron Butler, April 2009

22. “I give our coach and staff credit for keeping the team motivated, and pushing to show progress right until the end of the season.” — Ted Leonsis, April 2013

23. “I think that in the last month or so you’ve seen a lot of progress from our young players.” — Ernie Grunfeld, April 2012

24. “Everybody is just clicking right now. Everybody is lifting each other up and getting victories out of it….I think for the first time, you’re really getting to see how good we can be.” — Jordan Crawford, April 2012

25. “It’s been a bumpy ride, but that’s life. That’s basketball. I’m happy we fought through it, and we still had intensity on the court.” — Andray Blatche, April 2010

26. “A lot of teams that aren’t really fighting for anything do tend to roll over and take the rest of the season how it comes. But not us….We play for each other. We play to win. It doesn’t matter what part of the season it is.” — Martell Webster, April 2013

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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