Wizards have established a losing tradition in Washington

Since 1979 the Wizards' winning percentage is .423. Players such as Caron Butler, above, may need to be traded.
Since 1979 the Wizards' winning percentage is .423. Players such as Caron Butler, above, may need to be traded. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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By Thomas Boswell
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Wizards won their third game in their last seven Monday at Verizon Center against injury-splinted Portland. Afterward, everybody was feeling better, almost slightly optimistic.

"Every crisis is an opportunity," Coach Flip Saunders said, before adding, "you've got the choice to either embrace the opportunity or you've got a choice to let your knuckles drag on the ground."

"It's good to crack a joke again," team leader Antawn Jamison said. "We're just trying to find a cure, win some games.

"We're looking for respectability."

At first, I nodded in agreement. Maybe the Wizards were showing some grit, finding a bit of chemistry and playing better without Gilbert Arenas than they had with him.

Then a dark miasmal cloud lifted, and suddenly, after half-a-lifetime of sharing in Washington's Great Wizard Delusion, I could see clearly: The Wizards were on the verge of celebrating 3-4, a .429 percentage. This is exactly where we've been with this lousy, miserably run and perennially forgiven franchise since 1979.

As soon as Wednesday, Ted Leonsis may become the new owner of the Wizards. If not, then soon. Please, Ted, don't buy into the pap that has been peddled by this organization for a generation.

These days, everybody uses the Nationals as the standard of "bad" in Washington. And they are really bad. Their won-lost percentage in the five years since they moved to the District is .424.

So, what do you think the Wizards' win percentage is since '79? That's 31 seasons. It's .423!

No wonder the Wizards think winning three out of seven isn't so bad. It's what they always do. It's what's expected and accepted.

But it's terrible. Yet we're so used to it, we've grown numb.

Right now, the Wizards are buying into the idea that, without Arenas, they are somehow enduring an enormous hardship. That's typical of the Wizards' losing culture. Buck up. Even without Arenas's $16.2 million salary, the Wizards still have a roster that is earning $62.9 million -- more than the NBA salary cap of $57.7 million. They still have a perfectly viable nine-man rotation.

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