Sports columnist Thomas Boswell was asked in his weekly online chat about the Wizards' slow start. This exchange took place early Monday, before reports surfaced of verbal altercations at a recent Washington practice, which a person familiar with the team described as “embarrassing.” Still, the chat question — and Boswell’s answer — captured some of the current angst surrounding the franchise.
“I have a mini-ticket package and have been to three Wizards games this season,” wrote the reader. “As you can imagine, they lost each game, two of them in spectacular fashion. There’s a lot wrong with the team. I’m not sure how much I believe in Scott Brooks as their coach. The team is so flat (or randomly not-flat) that you have to wonder if the team is done hearing Brooks’s voice. Was one of the reasons he was hired to lure Kevin Durant to D.C. in the summer of ’16? Given that Durant didn’t even take a meeting with them, it was pretty clear he didn’t want to play in Washington. Wouldn’t the Wiz brain trust have known this fact and perhaps gone a different way in their coaching hire? I would have expected the team to know that Durant wouldn’t even take a meeting with them and therefore strategize differently around the summer of 2016.”
Here’s Boswell’s answer:
Very good points. I felt the same thing at the time: What are they thinking? They aren’t going to get within a thousand miles of K.D., and everybody — except them — knows it.
Does anybody listen to anybody within that franchise. When players, especially your best players — like John Wall and Bradley Beal — constantly seem to be saying that the problem after a bad loss was “lack of effort,” that often means they don’t want to say the truth, which is that there’s a lack of talent — including less talent in their own games than they want to admit, even to themselves. The only thing Beal can do at an above-NBA-average level is shoot. That’s a great thing to be good at. But there’s not a lot more to his game. Wall can do a lot of things — if he would focus on those things, including defense — but he can’t shoot, from any distance, including layups in traffic. And he doesn’t know it.
I wrote a column about Bad Owners last week. I should have mentioned Abe Pollin and Ted Leonsis in their combined incompetence in running the Bullets/Wiz for what is now 40 seasons of despair. The Wiz need to go on a winning streak to reverse this trend.
How long a winning streak? Just to make them a .500 team over the last 40 seasons? They’d need to win 454 games in a row.
This is one of the historically awful teams in U.S. pro sports. And the spiral, after some hopes in recent years, seems to be going back down the drain.
Whenever the Wiz start talking about “How do we get better?” I always want to say, “LOOK IN THE MIRROR. You first order of business is to make sure that you DON’T GET EVEN WORSE.”
With some franchises, I’d be quick to advise 'em to “break this mess up.” With the Wiz, I wouldn’t. Because it’s more likely they’d find a way to get back down to 25-to-30 wins for several seasons, but still never land the lottery pick Hall of Famer who changes the whole picture.
My advice: Stop trying. Just play. Get a little better. Stop pretending your weaknesses are strengths. Listen to the coach. Oh, and fire the GM, just to get people's attention.
Next week: I plan to have new, and completely different, advice. I have only one rule with the Wiz: Don’t let 'em spoil your day. And when I have a half-dozen games that I’ve recorded in various sports, I always make sure to keep the Wiz game to watch last — or, if I’m lucky, never.
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