After all, there were slam-dunk contests for which to prepare, suspensions for getting in fights with one another, the second-worst road mark to start a season in NBA history (0-25) and, okay, a new, brave hope for the future who wears No. 2 — and is also the first Wizard to take a seat in the office:
JOHN WALL: I’ve seen the numbers and the video highlights. You, young fella, should be the rookie of the year — not Blake Griffin. (He was hurt a year ago. Fine, I get it. But what league redshirts players for award purposes?) I am also paying no mind to the statistic in which you are listed as only a handful of No. 1 picks not to help your team record-wise your first year. Immaterial. You ’balled, Jimmy Wall. You worked. Every day, which can’t be said of your supporting cast.
I know. There are probably times you wished you stayed at Kentucky, where they pay better and you only lost three games in a season as opposed to Washington, where you have lost three in five days. But things will get better. Work on your jump shot and, most of all, slow down, physically and mentally. Be patient. Just . . . wait — until the summer of 2012.
See, deep down, no matter what people say about New York or L.A., Dwight Howard envisions catching alley-oops from you.
JOSH HOWARD: Though you were always injured, you made the All-GQ team with those resplendent suits on the bench. You are not the young knucklehead you were at times in Dallas. You have matured — enough to know you need to get out of here as a free agent. Thanks for your leadership during the post-Gilbert, transitional phase.
OTHYUS JEFFERS: Wait. Hold up. Who are you?
NICK YOUNG: I’ve been waiting to congratulate you in person for making the All-Defensive Third Team. Oh, wait. That didn’t happen. There is not a chance that will ever happen. (In Hubie Brown voice:) “You are Nick Young, okay. You don’t guard anybody, okay.”
Look, I was wrong. You are better than the AND1 bus. I now think you have Vinnie “Microwave” Johnson potential. You are a good soul and as playful and mischievous as anyone. But I know someone else who did the 25-going-on-12 thing in this town, and it only played for so long. You can laugh, smile and grow up at the same time. Promise. You frustrate me so much because I like you the most.
YI JIANLIAN: I know Yao. You, Yi, are no Yao. But after he retires, you are all more than 8 billion of your countrymen have left. For the sake of Chinese media everywhere, please, stay in the league — just not here.
RASHARD LEWIS: From Orlando to this? Come on, be honest, you must have stolen snacks from Stan Van Gundy’s office. Having swapped long-range jumpers with Kobe in the NBA Finals less than two years ago, I’m sorry you had to see this. When your career has come down to, “At least he cost less over the long haul than Gilbert Arenas,” that’s depressing. But make the best of it. And don’t worry. Ernie will get you out of here next summer with a nice little $13 million buyout of your last year. Keep teaching the young bucks how to be a pro and get healthy.