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Blind optimism: Growing up a Wizards fan

Lee Friedman

I feel lucky to have been selected by the Post to be one of the Wizards fan bloggers. Hopefully I won’t say anything that would cause them to regret giving this soapbox to the fans (insert “Journolist” joke here…wait, is it too soon?).

Before I get to the Wizards, here’s a little about myself. I’ve been a Wizards/Bullets fan for over 30 years, which is basically my entire life. I grew up in Silver Spring and I was very lucky to have a father who bought Bullets season tickets starting in the early 80’s, so I was able to go to 7 or 8 games a year. I thought the Capital Club was the nicest restaurant in the world (for those of you who never had the pleasure, that was the restaurant at the Cap Center). Only later in life did I realize that we ate there less for it’s dated ambiance then that the only other dining option in Landover was the BET Soundstage.

As a kid my favorite players were Charles Jones (who ESPN recently mentioned in an article as the fifth-worst Wizard statistically in franchise history), Mark Alarie, Tom Gugliotta and Jeff Malone.  The fact that the Bullets continued to acquire morbidly obese players throughout my childhood (“Dinner Bell” Mel Turpin, John “Hot Plate” Williams and Kevin Duckworth) gave me hope that you didn’t need to be a great athlete to play in the NBA.

It was hard to be a Bullets fan in Washington, basically everyone I knew was a Redskins fan first, second and third, and maybe an Orioles fan fourth. That made it that much better when they had their rare moments of glory. From the mid-80’s until the arrival of Gilbert Arenas, the Bullets/Wizards were sometimes awful, mostly bad, and even a few times good. During that era there were some great moments: Michael Jordan coming out of retirement and dropping 51 on the Hornets, Tim Legler winning the 3-point shooting contest, those Webber/Howard/Strickland teams of the mid-90’s, Bernard King’s two 50 point games on his rebuilt knee. Those were the things that made me a fan and got me through the blatant incompetence by team management (there is literally not enough bandwidth on the internet to begin to make a list, but at some point I will try; If Wes Unseld reads these blogs he may want to skip that day).

That’s basically a long way of saying I’m a passionate fan who has no unrealistic illusions about his team but roots for them no matter what. I also think I bring a little bit of a historical perspective, so when people complain about drafting Peter John Ramos or Hamady N’Diaye, I can raise them a Doug Roth (he was balding and blind in one eye when the Bullets drafted him), because when your team is voluntarily drafting partially blind players, optimism is all you've got.

By Box Seats blogger  | September 21, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  | Tags:  Wizards  
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