A few years back, the Washington Redskins weren’t the laughingstock of the Washington D.C. sports scene. It was the Washington Wizards. The comedic trio of JaVale McGee, Nick Young (pre-Swaggy P) and Andray Blatche was an 82-nights-a-year punch line that led to tickets going for less than a dollar on the secondary market and constant mockery on local radio. One of those radio shows is the Tony Kornheiser Show, hosted by the former Washington Post columnist and current Pardon the Interruption co-host. Regular chatter usually centered on how John Wall was too fast for his teammates, Nick Young constantly refusing to pass the ball, and a perpetual record of 9-20.
Well, Nick Young — along with McGee, Blatche, Jordan Crawford, etc. — moved on to other locales, and Wall’s teammates have finally caught up to him, as the Wizards are now 18-6 and in second place in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the Wizards’ new found success — which comes fresh off the heels of a surprising playoff run last spring — isn’t really moving the needle in D.C. While tickets aren’t (practically) free anymore, people still aren’t showing up to games. Michael Wilbon, another former Post columnist and Kornheiser’s co-host on PTI, took note of the empty seats while attending the Clippers-Wizards showdown last Friday, and unleashed a tirade during his weekly appearance on Monday’s show:
… are the Redskins all that Washington can follow? They can’t follow two things, sports fans here? Because the Wizards are on to something, Tony. And I don’t mean they’re on to something because they’re not 9-20. First of all, even if they had a more mediocre record, they’re really, I think, one of the four or five most appealing teams in the entire league, in terms of the way they play, the chemistry they have on the court, the personalities. They seem to be just the nicest people. And I have now been around them for a couple of weeks over a period of time to just sort of observe, and listen and have discussion, and they are a delight the Wizards are, as opposed to the fright that is the other team.
And so you mean to tell me that on a Friday night, people don’t have enough interest in the Wizards to go see them play a team that has won nine in a row — the Clippers — at the time? I was so angry Friday night when I saw the 4,000 empty seats or whatever it is. … I was just annoyed. The Wizards are really a terrific team. They can win the Eastern Conference. I’m not betting on that. I know they’ve lost to Toronto, they’ve lost to Cleveland. Okay, fine. This is a long season. They’re right in the mix.
It’s just a really cool thing to watch and somebody, dammit, ought to watch it, and not spend 24-7 in anxiety over the dog football team.