John Wall, the NBA’s 2010 top draft pick, is admired for his quickness in running the fast break, he is usually a blur with perfect body control, slicing through traffic on his way to the hoop; he sometimes makes it look so easy. However, for the Washington wizard’s franchise that drafted him number one overall, the recent past has not been easy, sudden burst of hope and expectations have all ended in bitter disappointment and most of it self-inflicted, for the fans, the city and the franchise….which is a shame as Washington DC is a basketball town.
In the 90’s Chris Webber and Juan Howard were supposed to bring the glamour, attention and success of the Michigan ” Fab Five” mystic to the nation’s capital. Instead within a few years Webber was gone, traded to the Sacramento Kings for an older Mitch Richmond and Howard although awarded the NBA’s first $100 million contract, could not get out of town fast enough. The contract became an albatross around his and the franchise neck both literally and figuratively and the end was ugly, he was regularly booed during home games by the wizard’s fans.
In came Michael Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest basketball player, as Director of Basketball Operations. What could go wrong…right, but after one horrendous top draft pick (Kwame Brown) and an ill advised, ego driven, unsuccessful return to the court. Michael Jordan to his but no one else surprise was fired by the late owner Abe Pollin and again a period of hope and expectation was dashed. The franchise had to go back to the drawing board.
Gilbert Arenas picked 31st overall by the Golden State Warriors in the same Kwame Brown draft class walked through the door next and earned the franchise player tag, charming the fans and the city in the process. He gave the Wizards fans late game heroics, buzzer beaters and playoff basketball with a smile and a jester’s showmanship. The fans loved him; he became “Agent Zero,” hitting buzzer beaters while screaming “Hibachi,” A surgically repaired knee, a six year $111 million contract and a guilty plea on a felony gun charge later, “Agent Zero” is now an embarrassment in DC and the franchise is again trying to get rid of its erstwhile hero.
As the new John Wall era begins in Washington with a new majority ownership in Ted Leonsis, let’s hope the future will not mirror the past.