“I’ve been watching them since I was 9, in 2000,” says Walter, who lives in Howard County and is studying to be a math teacher. “I just keep thinking they’re going to get good.”
“He says that all the time,” says his girlfriend, Victoria Herr, who bought him a pair of tickets to Monday night’s game as an anniversary gift.
By definition, a Wizards fan expects little. The team last made the playoffs in 2008; its only championship was in 1978. This year’s start — winless after the first month of play — is the worst in franchise history, the previous record having been set last year, which began with eight losses.
The team has the league’s worst offense. Its big star, John Wall, is injured and has yet to play this season. The other top-flight player, Nene, was back on the medical shelf Monday after a brief return last week.
Still, the Wizards draw thousands of hardy fans every time they play. Sure, some of those fans have scored unimaginable bargains, grabbing tickets off StubHub for $2. Yes, $2. Others are the 8,000 season-ticket holders, who paid big money for their seats and want to see how their investment is panning out.
But as the Wizards stumble into the new season garnering hoots and catcalls from the paying customers, the fact remains: The folks who head to the arena on a Monday night after a holiday weekend are here not only to enjoy some allegedly professional basketball, but to prove a point: They are with their team, no matter what.
Well, at least for a while longer.
6:58 p.m., Section 117, Row R
Three college freshmen find their $50 lower-bowl seats — they snagged them for $14 each — and don brown paper supermarket bags, fitted with holes for eyes and painted with tears streaming down their recyclable cheeks.
“It was a group idea,’’ says Nir Levy, 19, who goes to the University of Maryland. “This was teamwork. The Wizards could learn something from us.”
“We don’t want to show our faces as Wizards fans anymore,’’ says Adam Hammerman, 19, who grew up in Rockville and attends the University of Denver.
Despite the bags, the boys will not abandon their team. “One day, we’ll be good and end up having all these stories about how we stuck with them,’’ Hammerman says.
He wears a cap with “RG III” on the front, bought for $5 outside the arena, the Redskins quarterback being hotter than the Wizards’ no-name players.
That’s how it is in Washington. Robert Griffin III has the Redskins winning some games. The Nationals made the playoffs. Even the Nats’ losingest racing president won.
Wizards fan Jonathan Waksman, a student at George Washington University: “We’re worse than Teddy Roosevelt.”
The man in the owner’s box understands fans’ pain. Ted Leonsis, who owns the Wizards and Capitals, grew up in Brooklyn, a stalwart fan of the Jets and Mets, surefire recipes for frustration. “Every sports fan has endured a stretch when his or her favorite team isn’t winning, and obviously some stretches are longer than others,” he says.