But I find myself caring about Wittman and the savvy adults who’ve replaced the more talented likes of Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young. The current batch are true pros, trying to reverse a poisonous culture so that Bradley Beal, 19, and Wall, whether he knows it, may grow up to see better times after the oldsters are gone.
Maybe I’m a sucker for a team that shows up when it seems pointless and its fans are selling tickets online for pennies. Maybe I enjoy seeing a team trade its third-leading scorer for scraps because he’s the Last Box of Rocks that’s left.
Maybe the Wizards’ recent rally is Fool’s Gold. But few teams could make such a staunch stand against indignity after that 4-28 start. So, respect it.
No one should want to jump on this train more than Wall. For the third straight year, he is almost the worst shooter in the NBA, as measured by effective field goal percentage (.405), which includes two-point and three-point shots. The past two years, he has made 7 percent of his three-point attempts. That’s correct: 7 percent. He commits more turnovers per 36 minutes every year: 3.6, 3.8 and now 4.5. Luckily, he finally has the set of experienced teammates, and the blunt coach, that he should crave.
“When we have bad games, we’ve got to learn to accept responsibility. Don’t feel sorry for yourself,” Wittman said long after Wednesday’s loss. “The good players take heat.”
“I tell the truth,” said Wittman, who was born in Indianapolis, raised on basketball as religion and was a star on Bob Knight’s 1981 NCAA champion at Indiana. “I have to coach. That’s the only way I know.”
Maybe the Wizards’ current stand against indignity will lead to nothing, and Verizon Center will remain the world’s biggest sarcophagus on many nights. For those who’ve endured recurrent bouts of Wizards Disease all these years, this may be yet another outbreak of unwarranted optimism.
But in a hoops town, it’s hard to fight the feeling. I thought I’d finally sworn off ’em, but (don’t tell my family) I’m watching the Wizards again. Like the old blues lyric puts it, “The doctor says I may get better. But I’ll never get well.”
For previous columns by Thomas Boswell, visit washingtonpost.com/boswell.