Grin and bear it? Too much to ask for when it comes to the Wizards
By Tracee Hamilton,
It’s over. You can open your eyes now. The Redskins’ wretched 5-11 season — motto: “Hey, it’s better than 4-12!” — is, mercifully, at an end.
For those who saw glimpses of progress during 2011’s slog of a campaign, Sunday’s finale offered a lot of counterpoints. The end of the first half alone made you wonder if this was Week 17, or Week 1. Thankfully, it was Week 17. What if we had to go back and relive this season like some sort of cruel “Groundhog Day”? Although Bill Murray as Mike Shanahan might be fun.
Now — to continue the “Groundhog Day” theme — we wait to see what happens in the offseason, or as Redskins fans call it, the season. Once again free agency and the draft will offer more twists and turns than the actual season did.
But at least the actual season is, in fact, over. Which is more than I can say for the Wizards’ season. Never has the word “shortened” sounded so good. You might need to close your eyes again until, say, April. The Wizards headed to Boston on Monday night in search of their first win and despite an improved performance, extended their winless streak to five.
One night prior, the Celtics beat Washington by eight points at Verizon Center on Sunday, after which John Wall said he was “not enjoying myself playing basketball” so far this season. That’s hardly surprising. Andray Blatche is apparently qualified to be team captain because he read half a book on leadership. The team is so organized that it forgot to put Roger Mason Jr. on the roster for a game and he was ineligible to play.
And Wall looked unhappy in a bad loss to Milwaukee this past weekend, so Coach Flip Saunders said this before Sunday’s game: “I told him, if he doesn’t play hard and he doesn’t have a smile on his face, I’m going to take him out.”
I know what Saunders is trying to say, and I know he’s not ordering Wall to smile, but maybe he needs to ask Blatche to return that leadership book. Wall should be playing hard, of course, but isn’t it a little too much to expect him to look like he’s enjoying himself? I would posit that if he ran up and down the court grinning, he’d look. . . nuts. What is he supposed to smile about? His unbelievably strong supporting cast? The trickling away of his career?
Wizards fans aren’t smiling. Wizards coaches aren’t smiling. Look closely — the Wizards’ logo isn’t even smiling. But Wall is supposed to carry this team and smile? The only one associated with this team who’s smiling is probably Ted Leonsis, and that’s just how he’s wired.
Wall will smile when Wizards fans, coaches, players and everyone else associated with the Wizards smile — when the team is finally respectable. Not even good — respectable would be a nice start.
In fact, all of Washington might smile. Respectable is starting to look pretty sweet — and also unattainable, with the Capitals less than their usual dominant selves and the Wizards and Redskins. . . well, it’s hard to know what to call what the Wizards and Redskins are doing. Let’s call it rebuilding. Rebuilding has a nice ring to it. Let’s go with rebuilding.
And everybody smile, dammit.