Finding the Positive
I swear, my brave mission to cheer up Wizards fans grows more treacherous by the second. Next week, you can expect me to be pointing out that the hot dogs at the VC are, by all accounts, fully cooked. Anyhow, I figured I'd talk to a few mild celebrity types about where to find the good in all of this.
Like Derrick Dockery. Sure, he might not technically be a local athlete any more, but he was at last night's game with Jason Campbell, and he's still a Wiz fan, so I asked him to provide a dose of optimism.
"They've got a real good shot," he said of Team Ligament. "Get everybody to come together, believe in themselves, the team, the system, and everything will fall into place. You've just got to believe."
That's the stuff. I asked how far in the playoffs this team could go.
"Who's to know?" he said. "Everybody has a chance. Not too many people are giving them a chance to get through the first round, but all you have to do is have heart, courage. That can take you a long way."
[Oh, here's an aside to cheer you up even more. The team had loads of extra Gilbert for MVP posters that had been part of its Gilbert for MVP promotional campaign. The posters were already mailed out to the national media, but the campaign is sort of on hold right now, understandably. Which is how I managed to find myself with several dozen of these posters. Probably half a hundred, at least. Not sure exactly what to do with them, but just looking at the image makes you smile, no? And did you know that if you go to GilbertforMVP.com, you get taken to the Wiz team site?]
Ok, more celebrity cheering up. Last night I talked to Matt Wright, that kid who I interviewed months ago, the one who once won Fan of the Game by dressing like a Wizard in a costume he bought at Party City. Well, he was there last night, dressed as the Wizard again, and he won Fan of the Game again, won the free tickets again. An indestructible cycle; he can just keep using his free tickets to come back to the arena, dressed as The Wizard, virtually ensuring himself another batch of free tickets. Actually, that was kind of depressing. There was something very static, very stuck in January 2007 about the whole thing. Everything grows rancid and stagnant in front of our disbelieving eyes. But regardless, I asked him how the team could rise above this current mess.
"It's all the magic, it's all the magic of this stick," he said, gesturing with his orb, or whatever. "This is what I got. Hopefully, me coming to this game--and it looks like I'm coming to another one--I can lift up their spirits."
I asked if the Wiz could win a playoff series.
"I think they can," he said, "as long as I'm here."
[Another aside to cheer you up: the team's memorabilia hunt continues unabated. Last night DeShawn Stevenson scored an autographed Cliff Robinson Blazers jersey, and Gilbert got 2007 Kidd and Carter All-Star jerseys. Also, Gilbert has this massive painting of the 2005 Eastern Conference All-Star team, and he's getting all the members to autograph it. Last night he added Vince Carter's signature. Now he just needs four more: Iverson, Wade, Paul Pierce and Shaq. And by "he," I mean, the PR staff, since Gilbert wasn't around last night.]
Ok, third celebrity cheer up. Well, maybe he's not a celebrity, but I ran into one of the guys behind the Post Grotto blog, yet another weirdly written Wizards blog that pays homage to FreeDarko. There are a whole bunch of strange D.C. sports related rap lyrics on there, and also some cheerful blogging that will convince you to double your playoff ticket order:
Without Gil, the thin veneer of being a competitive team vanishes. What remains is the charred corpse of a disinteresting 6 seed with nothing but November to look forward to. The remaining games are no longer worth watching from an entertainment standpoint, which is all I've had this season since I never bought into the hype of making an appearance anywhere but the opening round of the playoffs. So be it.
Oh. Right. Not that cheerful. Well, how about a heckler I met last night, Nate Rose, one of those guys who has the uniform number of every NBA ref saved in his BlackBerry, so he can heckle by name.
"My least favorite is Ed Malloy, No. 73," Nate said. "I hate him."
Swell. Nate, as it turns out, takes credit for turning the Wizards' season around. He and his fiance, Besse Dailer, traveled to an early-December road game at Chicago, a disastrous loss in a string of disappointing results. During one timeout, Nate, sitting in the sixth row, screamed at Gilbert to get his head in the game. Gilbert looked at Nate. Then he scored at least 32 points in each of his next five games, followed that up with the 60-point game at L.A., and so on.
"He says it was the refs," Besse said of Gilbert's turnaround. "We're convinced it was Nate."
So, Nate, cheer Wiz fans up. Break them out of their slump. Tell us your best heckles of the night.
"I called Jason Collins a fatty," Nate said. "I told Cliff Robinson he was old and washed up."
"Yeah, he wasn't very good tonight," Besse said, acknowledging the obvious. "He was not on his game at all."
Right. Can you give the world hope, at the very least?
"I think it's pretty hopeless," Nate said. "I would love to win a round and see if Caron can come back, but look at tonight: The emotion's low, they don't have the legs, they don't have the horses...I'm a diehard, but I'm also realistic."
Wow. Ok. Which leaves us with this: Andray Blatche brought to last night's game these custom-made Wizards shoes that he picked up at a sneaker boutique in Cleveland last season. They're really nice looking. I thought they might cheer you up.
April 11, 2007; 11:59 AM ET
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