The Washington Wizards losing Juan Dixon, the star of Maryland's 2002 NCAA championship, ends a special link between Dixon and Washington area basketball fans. Nevertheless, GM Ernie Grunfeld and Coach Eddie Jordan believe that adding Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins from the Lakers and Antonio Daniels from Seattle -- even while subtracting Dixon and Larry Hughes, who signed with Cleveland -- makes the Wizards a better team. "They're competitive, tough, hard-nosed guys," said Jordan of his new players. Dixon was a fan favorite, in part, because of the adversity he had to overcome as a teenager and his clutch play at Maryland. Still, professional sports are about winning, salary caps and filling slots. But it's too hot for a lecture.

I know it's been said that Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld did a great job getting comparable players in return for Kwame Brown. But allowing Juan Dixon to go to Portland probably will haunt the Wizards.

Juan was arguably one of the best sixth men in the league, coming off the bench and giving a much-needed offensive spark, along with many steals. How could you let a sparkplug walk away?

Mark N. James, Temple Hills

I like Juan Dixon as a person. However, as a basketball player, Dixon was one of the most inconsistent players on the team. He has never shot a high field goal percentage to justify his numerous attempts. People may point to his heroics in Game 4 of the Chicago Bulls series, but in the other games of that series he was horrific. Antonio Daniels is a much better player than Dixon.

Mahesh Dwivedi, Washington

Hey, guys, this sounds like a real sports bar/talk show argument. I'm a Dixon fan and wish the Wizards had kept him.

You are right to have suggested last week that Nats fans "take a deep breath and enjoy." The Nationals did too well too soon for this area to face reality. A lot of excitement when winning; doom and gloom after some losses. Still, plenty of time for more winning and competing this year. They are not getting blown out, so they are doing okay. It would be nice if more "fans" could appreciate what they have.

Chuck Foster, Washington

When you think Washington, after 34 years without major league baseball, is contending for a playoff berth late into July before large crowds at RFK Stadium, who can complain?