One team played defense down the stretch, relying on sound man principles and getting the job done. The other resorted to a gimmick zone and couldn’t stop anyone.
That’s the bottom line.
I’m of the opinion that a book needs to be written by this team. Maybe by Mike Jones. Maybe by Mike Prada. Maybe by Kyle Weidie. But someone needs to document this Wizards season.
They finally have their components back, and all being paid a King’s ransom. Think about how much money they have invested in this team. How massively disappointing is this? To have put that much money in and gotten this kind of performance?
They brought in a new coach. A good coach. Maybe a great coach, offensively. They all spoke of sacrifice and leadership and always, winning, winning, winning. The golden principles that are supposed to lead to salvation. For nothing.
They lost their owner.
And now this team is the new posterchild for losing. Forget the Nets. We can forgive them, attribute growing pains. Forget the Knicks (a game and a half out of sixth in the East!), who are simply dealing with past sins. Forget the Timberwolves, because they weren’t wrong, they just didn’t know what they were doing (STILL LOOKING FOR MORE POINT GUARDS. ALL YOUR POINT GUARDS ARE BELONG TO US). Hell, Golden State has at least put forth some idea of effort.
But this team? It doesn’t care enough to try and create effort to execute the plan that was flawed to begin with. This is Pat Conroy’s “My Losing Season” epic. There’s an epic sense to this failure, systemically, personally, for the fans, the management, the players, everything.
It’s made more crushing from the fact that there was such excitement, such hope. After such a miserable slide due to injury last year, they couldn’t be as bad, right? They couldn’t be.
(Side note: The thing that really inspires pity is the constant talk of “Looks like Gilbert’s back” every game. I’ve read it maybe twenty times. He’s not back, because he’s not making a difference. He hasn’t created any fear. He’s just another guard who shoots. When he makes the difference? Then we can talk of him being back. )
But they are. And it’s wrong. It’s all wrong.
You’re looking at detonation. You’re looking at trading away the central core. You’re looking at the end of the road for an entire era that was never really born. In a way, LeBron killed it. And I know that hurts. But when he spoke to Gilbert at the line, something changed. Nothing was right after that. It was just disaster after disaster, be it the quiet unfortunate kind (the playoff elimination sans Gilbert), the abject demolition (the injury 08-09 season), or this year, the death of hope.
This needs to be watched, and we’re fortunate we have such great writers covering this team, day in and day out, even though you can feel how much it kills them. This is a story that needs to be told, even if there is no lesson. Expected greatness? Pass, I’m full on that. The tragedy you never saw coming? That’s the story you have to read, even if you’re left with nothing but emptiness after.