One couldn't blame Sleepy Floyd or Othell Wilson if they perhaps got a bit misty-eyed when the Washington Bullets arrived Sunday at the Coliseum in Oakland for a game against the Golden State Warriors.
Not that either man was overwhelmed by the sight of Jeff Ruland or Rick Mahorn. It was just the idea of seeing something associated with Washington, and with winning, even though the Bullets haven't done much of that lately. (Bullets Coach Gene Shue said today that forward Cliff Robinson, who returned from an injury last week, likely will rejoin the starting lineup against the Spurs here on Wednesday night.)
Currently, Floyd and Wilson toil for the Warriors, the worst team in the NBA. When the Warriors beat the Bullets in double overtime Sunday, 125-121, it was the team's 12th victory in 53 games. The victory ended a six-game losing streak and moved Golden State's record since Jan. 1 to 2-21.
Such futility is light-years removed from the success both men experienced as collegians. In Floyd's four seasons at Georgetown, the Hoyas amassed a record of 100-30. Wilson's Virginia Cavaliers were 109-25. Each made an appearance in the NCAA Final Four.
There won't be a showcase for the Warriors this season. On the bright side, the team's incompetence may reap the Warriors another Georgetown product, Patrick Ewing. If that should happen, perhaps Floyd and Wilson would see things return to the way they were.
"It's been a real adjustment for me," said Wilson, a rookie guard, of already losing more games this season than he did the last four years. "The thing is, here, we go into games expecting to lose. At Virginia, we thought we'd win every time we stepped out onto the court."
Wilson has also had to adjust to the fact that he's no longer the fulcrum in his team's attack. As he said, "It's not as if I'm able to change things all by myself." Averaging 15 minutes a game behind Lester Conner and Floyd, Wilson said a greater concern is trying to find his way out onto the court.
"The players here are so much better than they were in college," he said. "We've got good people here. We play teams tough and do well but when we get to the end of the game we forget everything we've done up to that point."
For Floyd, the sudden impact of losing is not as severe. In his third NBA season, the 6-foot-3 guard was on a 37-45 Golden State team last year. According to Floyd, he finds such horrors as a 16-game losing streak and going winless in the entire month of January "a test of character."
"You try to maintain a good attitude, keep working hard and try to look upon this as a learning experience," he said. "It's easy to just go along with the flow when you're winning, something like this really lets you know what kind of person you are."
Against the Bullets on Sunday, Floyd's 26 points and 11 assists was lost in the shadow of teammate Purvis Short's 46-point effort but was an important part of the Warriors' victory. Still, the victory -- or the frequent losses -- aren't cause enough for Floyd to grab the telephone and call home.
"I haven't really spoken to (Georgetown) Coach (John) Thompson about losing like we've been doing," he said. "I'm sure he's got enough problems on his mind without worrying about me."
If Thompson doesn't have problems, Shue certainly does. The Bullets have lost eight of 10 games. Things don't look to improve against the likes of San Antonio, Dallas or Houston, the remaining three games on Washington's longest road trip of the season.
In an effort to try and find a spark that's been missing, the coach is leaning towards starting Robinson over Tom McMillen Wednesday when the Bullets try to break an eight-game road losing streak. Robinson led Washington with 32 points and 17 rebounds against Golden State on Sunday; McMillen shot five of 13 and has struggled in recent games with his jump shot.
According to Shue, little things like missed jumpers -- shots the team hit easily on a four-game winning streak two weeks ago when both Robinson and Ruland were out with injuries -- have spelled the difference between winning and losing.
"It's just such a fine line. We played well on Sunday and on Friday against Portland but now, when we need a shot to go, it's just not falling for us," he said.
The biggest problem facing the team now is continuity. Since his comeback last Tuesday in Seattle, Robinson has struggled at times trying to blend in. Dudley Bradley has done likewise while playing as backup point guard. Ruland's possible return later this week may again upset that continuity.
The disruptions on this trip have given Washington's games an almost exhibition-like flavor, not a good sign when there are only 27 regular-season contests remaining. "By this point, I would have hoped we be coming together as a team," Shue said. "Things haven't fallen into place like I'd hoped they would.
"There's nothing you can do about injuries, but now we have to start being concerned about winning games. We were playing a lot of close ones before the all-star break and we're still doing the same thing during this hard stretch but you can't be satisfied with that. I like to win, all of the time."