First things first: Elvin Hayes gets to say whatever the heck he wants to say about the Wizards, the Bullets or any other D.C. professional basketball franchise, whenever the heck he wants to say it.
But wowie, Hayes kind of mentioned this year’s team in the same breath with the 1977-78 world champs on Wednesday night, and that was unexpected.
Hayes was in D.C., where he filmed a segment with Monumental Network, among other things. He also spent 10 minutes on Comcast SportsNet’s coverage of the Wizards-Celtics game on Wednesday night, chatting with Steve Buckhantz and his former teammate, Phil Chenier. And at some point, Chenier asked him when he knew the 1977-78 team could be special.
“Well Phil, I was thinking today, because I was looking at this basketball team, and right now they’re 20-20,” Hayes said. “And this is the way we were for that whole season. And then all of a sudden, it clicked. We brought some parts in, we brought Charles Johnson in, we brought a couple of other players in, and all of a sudden that clicked, just clicked. And this team, to me, I look at it today, and it looks like it’s at the same pace where we [were] and how we were going. And I just think it takes that one player to step up and make that click for the whole team to jell.”
To his point, that title team was indeed a pedestrian 24-20 through 44 games, and was still just an eyelash above .500 in late February, at 29-28. And even after getting Johnson in late January, the Bullets traded wins and losses fairly evenly down the stretch, finishing the regular season a blah 44-38.
As for his current rooting interests, Hayes left no doubt: he remains a Bullets fan.
“Always,” he said. “My heart of basketball is always in Washington. That’s why when I went in the Hall of Fame I went in as a Bullet. And I wanted my number not retired anywhere but here in Washington, because I feel that that’s where everything came together for me as a professional basketball player.”