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Wizards and the Chase for History

Farzan Ahmed from Bangladesh and two others are sworn in as U.S. citizens during halftime eight years ago this week. (By Joel Richardson - TWP)

I'm going to go ahead and disagree with my colleague Ivan Carter, whose recent Wiz story focused on the 1961-'62 Chicago Packers as the worst in franchise history. For one thing, no one who likes the Wiz knows or cares about the Chicago Packers, so they shouldn't count. For another thing, the 18-62 Packers didn't have to play 82 games and might have gotten hot late, so we don't know for sure how they would have compared to a modern NBA team.

No, for me, the race is against the Michael Jordan and Leonard-Hamilton-led '00-01 Wizards, who finished 19-63, and this is the perfect week to make some comparisons. Going into this week eight years ago, the Wizards had two win streaks on the season; in this particular week, they got their third. The current Wiz have two win streaks, but coming off that triumph in Minnesota, they could craft their third winning streak tonight. That would make these Wiz 16-49, same as their forefathers.

So with that in mind, let's take a look at a few highlights from that early-21st century second of week of March. It was a LOT more entertaining than this week has been. Trust me, my traffic would have been crazy, had I been blogging about MJ and Jahidi instead of selling cheese.

March 5: The team announces that starting point guard Chris Whitney will miss up to five games with two sprained ankles. With Rod Strickland having been released, that means Hubert Davis will likely start at the 1. Also, Tyrone Nesby is on the injured list with ankle and back issues.

March 6: The Wizards sign David Vanterpool to take over the point guard role. Also, The Post runs a "top potential lottery picks" story by Josh Barr, which mentions guys like Yao Ming, Eddie Griffin, Jason Williams, Shane Battier, DeSagana Diop, Tyson Chandler and Kwame Brown as top prospects. Dagger.

March 7: There are reports that Michael Jordan is working out vigorously--up to six hours a day--and trying to get back into game shape. Plus Rick Reilly has dropped the rumor that MJ will return. "When would I have time to work out six hours a day?" Jordan tells The Post's Steve Wyche. "That has not crossed my mind, but I will never say never. The first time I said never, I ended up coming back, but I can say that there's a 99.9 percent chance that I am not coming back."

Also, the Wizards beat the Cavs, behind 11 and 13 from Jahidi White.

March 8: Not long after he'd been traded to the Mavs, Juwan Howard lashes out at the Wiz during a game in Miatmi. "You see an organization in Dallas where it's all about first class," he tells The Post's Amy Shipley. "They take care of everything off the court so players have to worry about nothing but basketball. In Washington, it was different in so many ways. In Washington, you didn't know if the organization was really supporting you. We as players kind of second-guessed that -- the support staff wasn't quite there."

March 9: Wiz lose by 32 in Boston. "If the Washington Wizards' shots were among the millions of snowflakes falling on New England tonight, they would have missed just about whatever was beneath them," Wyche writes.

March 10: Wiz win against the Nets at home, behind a season-high 26 points from Christian Laettner. Coach Leonard Hamilton had subbed out all five of his starters in anger during the first quarter.

March 13: Look, Jordan isn't coming back. "No Way," The Post's headline says. Now stop asking.

"No matter how many times Jordan has said that he is not going to play again, every time he breaks a sweat it fuels speculation that he's coming back," Wyche writes. "[Today] he re-iterated his stance that he is done playing professionally. His tone indicated his exasperation in addressing the issue yet again.

"People are taking this stuff way too far, but I can't control what people write or think so I'm not going to address this any more," Jordan says.

March 14: Richard Hamilton scores a career-high 40 points and the Wizards beat the Pistons at home, for their third and final winning streak of the season.

Also, Charles Barkley says he would consider coming out of retirement to play for the Wizards.

Also, this happened, according to Style's Peter Carlson: "After the first quarter of last night's Washington Wizards game at MCI Center, a blindfolded fan stumbled around the basketball court, chasing a man clad in a giant inflated costume while the crowd howled with laughter. After the second quarter, 50 immigrants from 50 different countries lined up on the court, swore an oath and became citizens of the United States and the fans gave them a standing ovation. Is this a great country or what?"

And also, Thomas Boswell writes a column on the Jordan rumors.

"What next?" he begins. "If Wes Unseld is spotted on a treadmill, does that mean he's planning to be the Wizards' center next season? If Phil Chenier orders a salad for lunch, does that mean he's dropping a few pounds to make an NBA comeback? Has everybody gone crazy?....It's Allen Iverson's NBA now. And Kobe Bryant's, Kevin Garnett's and Vince Carter's. It's time to learn about Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki and Predrag Stojakovic. And, above all, it's time to let go of the fantasy of Michael Jordan's return."

Like I said, that was a much more entertaining time than this. All we have to go on is a bald Nick Young, some half-hearted Blake Griffin chatter and a month-old interview with Brendan Haywood I just found.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 11, 2009; 12:41 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Boze Hits the Postseason


I was actually at that March 14th game. I'll never forget that halftime citizenship ceremony.

Posted by: tigerquoll | March 11, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm digging the swag of this post.

- O. Pecherov

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | March 11, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

thank you for mentioning a bald Nick Young as I requested in yesterday's chat. you are a man of the people.

Posted by: d_skillz | March 11, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't that the year that the Wiz enabled the Nuggets to break something like a 19 game losing streak in front of Monica Lewinsky at the then MCI Center?

Posted by: sumplmg | March 11, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

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