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Morning Look: What the Wiz's 1-7 Feels Like



"I don't know whose situation is more precarious right now, Norv Turner's or Gar Heard's." -- Tony Kornheiser, the day the Wizards' record last fell to 1-7, nine years and three days ago.

Sadly, this image above is what 1-7 looks like. And this text below is what 1-7 sounds like, quoting from Eddie Jordan's post-game remarks last night, as seen on TV:

"A team is built a certain way, fellas. This team is built for Gilbert Arenas to lead us. This team is built for our all star forwards to carry the wings for us, ok, and for the certain things that they do offensively for us, and for Brendan Haywood to have a career year manning the middle for us. We don't have those things. You know, you're asking people to do things that they're not capable of doing. They are not capable of carrying the load for us like a Dwyane Wade, like a Gilbert Arenas.You've got young guys who aren't going to make veteran plays night in, night out. They're going to be good here and there, so to be in the game is a credit to everyone in our organization right now."

Is he wrong? Not necessarily? But do fans want to hear their coach saying that "to be in the game is a credit to everyone in our organization," and that the plan was to get a second consecutive career year from Brendan Haywood? Likely not.

Regardless, this is what 1-7 ends like, at least historically, at least for this franchise. Only twice have the Wiz/Bullets started out with such a record. In 1999, when Mitch Richmond and Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland were the Big Three, the Wiz ended their 1-7 slide with a one-game winning streak, and went on to a 29-53 finish. In 1966, the Baltimore Bullets lost three more times to go to 1-10 before responding with a one-game winning streak of their own. That team finished 20-61.

Those two squads, by the way, went through a combined five coaches: Mike Farmer, Buddy Johnson, Gene Shue, Gar Heard and Darrell Walker. And here's what happened the day that 1999 team went to 1-7:

The Washington Wizards' seventh straight loss, a 95-73 humbling by the Philadelphia 76ers before 14,524 booing fans at MCI Center last night, was the last straw.

Wizards Coach Gar Heard will bench some of his starters for Thursday's home game against Toronto. Guard Mitch Richmond, center Ike Austin and forward Michael Smith are the likely candidates to be removed from the starting lineup and the changes do not appear temporary....

"We're going to have to look at replacing two of three of the starters," said a distraught Heard, who held a meeting with his coaching staff after the game to discuss the moves. "That's going to happen. If we're going to lose, we're going to lose with young guys and by playing the right way.

Ugh.

(Although in fairness, the Wiz have had more than a handful of 2-7 starts, which isn't really so different. I count eight times they've been 2-7 since moving to D.C. 35 years ago. And some of those years, they clawed back to finish around .500)

(Meantime, things were apparently more cheerful in the Heat locker room last night.

"I could name three million people that doubted me growing up, talking about I wouldn't be this, I wouldn't be that," said Michael Beasley, who apparently knows an awful lot of people. "So just to be here and be in my home town and know that everybody still loves me, everybody still supports me and what I do is breathtaking.")

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 19, 2008; 9:14 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Look , Wizards  
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Comments

At 1-7, I wouldn't be throwing management and ownership under the bus.

5 Turnovers in the last three minutes is what sunk that team...or maybe it was the fact they 10 of of first 11 shots.

Cut your losses and go for the lottery, so Eddie can have another draft pick to ride the pine.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | November 19, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who knows anything about basketball should have seen this coming. EG ruined the team with the contracts he has given out this offseason and past offseasons.

FIRE Eddie Jordan....Fire Ernie Grunfeld

Posted by: beas13 | November 19, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

1. Loving the integration of coaching screen shots these days.

2. Andray Blatche is a human turnover in the flesh.

3. Are you growing a goatee until Georgetown falls from the top spot of the Bog poll? Cause that would be the hotness if you did.

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | November 19, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

In other words, this team was built to be 3-5 at this point so don't be surprised that we're 1-7 without our shoot-first soft D SG and not very good center.

Posted by: asbloom | November 19, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Whoa whoa whoa beas13 and WaPoLive Fan16...its 8 games into an 82 game season. Nothing about what has happened is Eddie OR Ernie's fault. Think about how much better this team would be with Gilbert healthy. Eddie and Ernie are the reason we've been a playoff team for the past 4 years (when was the last time we saw the playoffs before them??...long time). So slow your roll and have a little faith in Antawn and Caron.

Posted by: C-dub703 | November 19, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I grew up with the Bullets in the late '80s early '90s when we were terrible every year. So as much as this season will undoubtedly be a write off, the last few season have literally been the best performance from a Washington Basketball team in my lifetime. It's damning with faint praise, but it's still true.

This squad won't go to the next level, obviously. But look at the Mavs and the Suns and the Nets or Kings from a few years ago. All these teams put out legitimately great teams but fell short. So it could be worse.

Posted by: M__N | November 19, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

What a loser thing for a coach to say. I know you're frustrated Eddie, but that's just pathetic.

Posted by: ThisGuy | November 19, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Everything is EG and EJ's fault. This team is one of the worst run franchises around. Not one team in the league would have given gilbert that contract especially coming off multiple knee surgeries. The only team that came close was the warriors...another one of the worst run franchises in sports. Jamison is 32 and we give him a 4 year deal. In 2 or 3 years we are going to be begging the entire league to take him. EG signed-Songalia, etan thomas, daniels and stevenson all to multi year big paying deals when not one of them deserved more than a 2 maybe 3 year contract. EG can't draft even though i do love Javale. Pecherov, Dee Brown, Juan Dixon, and Songalia, if not etan as well should all be playing in europe. EJ runs the worst rotations I have ever seen in my life and has continously crippled this team for the past 3 or 4 years. He also can't develop a single draft pick they all are barely better than when we drafted them. Look at our entire roster not 1 single player we drafted and groomed not one home grown star really even contributor. Anyone worth talking about was traded for or signed as a FA. Keep hanging on to 1st place at the all-star break 2 years ago.....look at the east its ten times better and continuity only works if you have the talent in the 1st place and the wizards dont have it. Not even close even with Gilbert. Anyone who defends EG/EJ or this team is a complete fool and is clueless about basketball. Then on top of all that EJ's press conference last night...are you serious 8 games into the season and he has given up and trashes are whole team and says their not good enough to get it done. Then says we should give everyone in the organization credit for even being in the games. WHAT ARE YOU SERIOUS?????I personally will not watch or go to another wizards game until either EJ or EG(I pray to god both) are gone. I would fire Eddie this morning....Both these guys should have been fired after last year...it sure in the hell better happen this year.

Posted by: beas13 | November 19, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The season was over the minute Brendan Haywood got injured. This team might be built for Arenas, but they're helpless without Haywood. Etan Thomas was a borderline capable backup before open heart surgery, to expect him to step into a role he was never suited for in the first place was crazy. Better to play the young buck McGee and take your lumps - he will be better in the long run.

Andray Blatche...if he came to camp out of shape, again - why didn't they have him on this crash course back in October? If they had made a commitment to force him into shape (sad as that is) during training camp, he'd be there by now. We aren't talking about Kevin Duckworth here. Blatche is lazy, but it's not like he needs to shed the equivalent of an 8th grader to get into playing shape.

Posted by: tha_prophet | November 19, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Too bad for the Wizards that Bruce Boudreau is alreaady taken...

Posted by: TheFingerman | November 19, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

5 years ago we all would drool at the thought of sniffing the panties of the darling known as the playoffs.

After a few years of contention (aka a massive unprecidented sucess for the zards) we have gotten greedy.

You all seem to forget we are Bullets (I mean Wizards) fans. Hope you enjoyed the last few years, cause it is time for us to return to the cellar for a decade as per usual.

The Abe givith and the Abe taketh away...

Posted by: JLR75 | November 19, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Its hard to be a wizards fan! We will not compete (for a title) as long as Grunfeld & Jordan are here and I would love ANYONE to argue that... the only thing we compete for now is the 1st pick in the draft.

Arenas is NOT the face of this franchise! we never competed for championships with him... Caron is the man and the team should be built around him!

Wake up! The only thing we have to look forward to in washington are lottery picks and watching real teams when they come to the verizon center.

Posted by: mcconnell04 | November 19, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who defends EG/EJ or this team is a complete fool and is clueless about basketball.

beas13

I wanted point out the positive moves and decisions EG/EJ have made. Beas13, with all of your obvious intellect I hope you don’t think me a complete fool.

Remember, this was a very bad team before Ernie got here. We had recently used a number 1 pick on Kwame, traded away Hamilton, somehow got stuck with Laettner and Tyron Lu, and rounded out our roster with Russell and Oakley (ouch). We were set to loose for the foreseeable future. Ernie made some very savvy moves to dump our garbage on other teams, then picked up players such as Arenas, Caron, and Jamison. Ernie built a team that could be competitive every year – something the Wizards hadn’t had in a long time. When Haywood was struggling and everyone wanted him gone, Ernie was smart enough to recognize that big men are hard to find, and was rewarded by seeing him have a career year. Ernie has consistently shown an ability to recognize talent – and by the way, it is harder to draft when you are a playoff team every year due to being out of the lottery. He also seems to get likeable guys who you can root for, which as a fan is an added bonus. His main flaw may be that he has too much loyalty to players currently on his roster. What a terrible GM.

Eddie Jordan has taken 3 veteran players who had never been all-stars in their careers, and made them all-stars in Washington. The Wizards consistently go to the playoffs under Eddie. He is also very calm and even keeled whether the team is on a roll or losing.
Eddie may stay with veterans too long and he does not seem to be able to get his team to play defense. But for the most part he is a good coach and he certainly has not lost this team, as seems to happen to many coaches in the NBA as evidenced by the frequent turnover.

The Wizards are not good right now, but EG/EJ have righted the ship in the past, and I still trust them to run this team.

Posted by: Matt27 | November 19, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I hope the gil haters from last season are enjoying this inspired play from our team.

Posted by: bford1kb | November 19, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards made a horrible miscalculation this offseason in resigning the oft-injured Arenas to a max deal and then awarding a new contract to the to be 33 year old Antawn Jamison.

Jamison is still effective but at 33 is not part of the future here.

Arenas after 3 knee procedures may never again be the same player on the court.

I thought Grunfeld had assembled some nice pieces in Arenas, Jamison and Butler to then continue to make deals to eventually land the veteran player or top draft pick to be the centerpiece of the next 4-5 years here.

Instead Grunfeld no doubt with pressure from Pollin decided to roll the dice that Arenas would stay healthy, Jamison would defy Father Time and Brendan Haywood would continue to improve his game at age 29.

This team's peak should have come in the next two years after the 45-37 finish and the second round loss to the Heat.

Unfortunately, both years were marred by injuries to key players and ended with sweeps or near sweeps by Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs.

2008 was the time to start rebuilding this team to be a contender rather than a continual #6 or #7 seeded team.

Instead the Wizards banked on a lot of luck coming their way and in the end might have made the next 3-4 years here very dicey ones indeed.

With the salary commitments already made to top 4-5 players on this club, Grunfeld now has NO room to make moves or improve the club.

Posted by: leopard09 | November 19, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

needs more half-smokes.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 19, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

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