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Baltimore, Meet Your Basketball Team

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The National Basketball Association.

Words that may make a number of you cringe, undoubtedly. While I understand the typical qualms with the sport, often I find these are just excuses. There’s plenty to love about professional basketball and I’m of the opinion that the sport is improving. Perhaps NBA commissioner David Stern said it best the other day:

“Amazing is where 81 points happens, where Ben Wallace’s hair happens, where Yao Ming happens, where caring happens. Where Donaghy happens, where clubbing happens, where registered weapons happen. We invite our fans to mesh up whatever happens. It’s all there. With the playoffs and preseason, we have close to 1,500 episodes of the best reality programming that plays around the world. That reality happens, fortunately or unfortunately, on the court and off the court. It includes everything. We are the absolute reflection of what’s going on out there in the world. Anyone who doesn’t think so doesn’t know what’s going on in the world.”

Give the commish some credit for being so forthcoming about the league’s more unsavory aspects. Don’t mistake that for him not caring about these issues – on the contrary, he’s been criticized for cleaning up the sport a little too much. But unlike Bud Selig, he’s smart enough to come out and talk about these issues to draw interest to his sport. Because it is interesting. Honestly, do we really want a league full of Tim Duncans?

In order to enjoy the NBA, you have to accept its silliness. You have to understand that yes, the fourth quarter is the most important quarter, after all, and that it’s ok to tune in a little later into the game. And you have to feel strongly about one or two teams. Of course, if you’re a Pacers fan or a soon-to-be-Kobe-less Lakers fan, then I can’t help you – it’s going to be painfully slow brick-fest for most of the year. Fortunately, Baltimore does have a basketball team – it just moved to DC awhile ago – and it’s a good one. Embrace.

By now you know about Gilbert Arenas, one of the league’s more original and complex personalities. You also probably know about the other two-thirds of Washington’s “Big Three”: Caron Butler, a gritty forward fresh off of a huge corner-turning season, and Antawn Jamison, the stoic leader and still one of the best offensive power forwards in the game. This trio of talent alone has brought the Wizards to the playoffs year after year. What they have lacked to advance deeper was a youthful and effective bench.

Enter Andray Blatche, Roger Mason Jr., Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, and Oleksiy Pecherov. This is a huge influx of youthful talent that the team hasn’t seen in ages, and judging by the preseason games, they should all contribute. Blatche, in particular, is going to be real, real good. And they will all get playing time with the unloading of several stiffs that include Michael Ruffin and Calvin Booth. Smart moves all around.

The season kicks off tonight against the Indiana Pacers at 7EST on CSN. I look for the Wizards Bullets to run n’ gun and light it up from beyond the arc. Should be fun. And remember, despite the lack of coverage in the Sun, you do have a basketball team to root for and hey, they’re good, too.

21 comments to Baltimore, Meet Your Basketball Team

  • dan the man

    man i guess i was wrong about the pacers, huh? thought i’d see a little more defense, but hey, it’s the first game.

    how many times have we seen gilbert hit that overtime-clinching 3, though? wow. run and gun, indeed

  • neal s

    I said it privately, but I want to also say it here: thanks for the Wizards help!

    For those who don’t know (which I guess is everyone), Dan the Man will be providing us with regular Wizards coverage throughout the season. I’ll be chiming in as I see fit, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. This is a really exciting team with a chance to go deep, and I see absolutely no reason why Baltimore fans shouldn’t get behind them.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    Because it’s DC, the snobbiest town on the East Coast which views Baltimore as a lower class of people for starters. And it’s the NBA, of which college basketball makes an absolute mockery. There isn’t another sport you can say that about which is amazing.

    I like dan the man though and wish him well, no offense intended.

  • random dude

    Yeah, I grew up in Baltimore County (Perry Hall area), went to school in College Park, now work and live in Alexandria, VA right on the metro line. And I have to say that I can’t get behind anything DC. The fact that they moved from Baltimore to DC should be a reason NOT to like them in my opinion. Didn’t they used to play a few games in Baltimore in the 90s. Now I don’t think they play anything up there.

    Point: Everything DC sucks.

  • Joe the Guy

    Thanks DTM – I’ll take what the Loss Column is giving, because I’m working for a living.

    But until basketball gets cooking or until the Pats lose, I suppose we can still muster up some baseball talk….

    Here’s what “Baseball Prospectus: Unfiltered” had down for the Orioles in thier rankings of potential A-Rod destinations….

    17. Orioles – Possible money grab destination a year ago, but rhetoric from new COO Andy MacPhail suggests that Orioles are starting to wake up and smell the coffee and wean themselves from their haphazard spending days.

    The BP guys seem to know what they’re talking about so this is a good thing to see

  • Andrew in Rochester

    JtG, I honestly have a sort of weird, calm impression of complete trust in Andy MacPhail – even if he doesn’t know anything about public relations. He’ll bring us back, exactly by avoiding this type of incapacitating contract that we love (see Baez, Gibbons, Mora, Ponson, Cordova, Segui, and so on and so on) and using Angelos’ money on player development. I’m very impressed so far, even though we’re going to be awful for the next 2 years. After that though could be The Return (esp. depending on what happens with Tejada and Bedard).

    As far as Washington and Baltimore in basketball, the Terps could totally take the Wizullets any day. Fear the turtle.

  • Chris

    AiR hit the nail on the head. Baltimore’s basketball team is the Tur-pins and to a lesser extent, the Greyhounds, Eagles, Retrievers, Bears, whatever the Goucher mascot is, etc.
    The NBA is to basketball what Olive Garden is to Italian food.

  • Joe the Guy

    There’s not much else baseball to work with guys……..

    But if you gather around closely I will spin the tale of Dock Ellis and the LSD – No Hitter:

    http://www.snopes.com/sports/baseball/ellis.asp

  • neal s

    I basically can’t stand the NBA, and to that extent I agree with what Chris said. We really should be supporting not just the Terps but all of the local D-I teams.

    So, don’t mistake my Wizards endorsement for an NBA endorsement. It’s this particular team I like, not the league or the pro game as a whole.

  • Joe the Guy

    Say what you will but the NBA isn’t as near watered down as the NFL or MLB.

    That said, I could watch the last 7 minutes of most NBA games and be content.

  • neal s

    I’ve been wanting to party with Martina Hingis since I was about 15 years old.

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/228/483268140_bbded609b8.jpg

  • Joe the Guy

    Neal,

    If I get fired for lusting at that picture I’m going make you hire me.

    Also….

    How does the LC contingency feel about Joe Girardi? I think he’s a great coach, I dig DT but still would have loved to see Joe run the O’s….

    That said I don’t think it will work in NY, that stupid #27 is like voluntarily putting a bulls-eye on his back

  • Andrew in Rochester

    Re; Joe Girardi, my only real thought is that he’s brilliant (anybody watching any of his YES games the past year can attribute that…he’s easily one of the top 3 broadcasters this past year, especially compared to the corporate yes-men, no pun intended, he got paired with like Al Leiter and Michael Kay) but he knows it real bad. I think he would’ve fit in well here, but I really wish he would’ve just told Andy MacPhail that he only wanted to manage the Yankees. Fair enough, but instead he just kinda wasted our time for no reason. And he’s a Yankee, which is enough to hate anybody as far I’m concerned.

    I don’t see him even making it through his contract, to be honest. He stresses preparation and fundamentals, but those weren’t exactly the Yankees’ problems in the past couple of years. The problem is they’re being demanded to win the World Series with a team that is inferior to several other teams (Angels, Indians, Red Sox, maybe even the Tigers) and that’s just a stupid amount of stress that a calm guy like Torre could deal with, but I’m not so sure the more firey Girardi can. But, Billy Martin did it, so you never know.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    I think Rob Girardi would be a better fit (inside B’more joke).

  • Dan the Man

    So by my count, nobody on TLC really gets down with the NBA, although I appreciate the effort, Joe the Guy and Neal.

    I don’t expect that I’ll convert anyone to Wizards fandom, I just think they are a legitimate team in a league full of less-than-legitimate teams. If it turns out that it’s doing more harm than good to report on NBA topics, then I’ll be the first to recommend that they cease.

    However, I have to disagree that Baltimore shouldn’t root for the Wizards. The fact that they moved to DC years ago means nothing, really. I’m a fan of players first, and it’s a squad of high class guys that weren’t around during the Bullets’ move from B’more to DC. Bunk argument as far as I’m concerned. It’s an hour away, and it was years ago.

    Furthermore, I’m not so sure that DC folk look down on Baltimore folk. I understand that this might be a common thought, but I’ve personally never run into any Washingtonian that talked shit on Baltimore. In fact, I’ve talked so much shit on DC in my time that I should be considered a hypocrite for being a Wizards fan. It’s the most boring city I’ve ever been to. They can’t even build buildings taller than the Capitol building. Weak. It’s an ugly city full of just as much crime and corruption as Baltimore. But come on guys, we can’t root for a local sports team just because it’s an hour away? When we don’t have our own basketball team anyway? When we feel fine about rooting for the Caps? Nobody goes around saying Baltimore should have a hockey team… I’m not so sure it needs a basketball team, either.

    Furthermore, the Terps would never beat the Wizards. Ever. That’s absolutely ludicrous. Bunch of skinny college guys against a crew of All-Stars? Wow.

    The NBA has its problems. But NBA players are no worse than the MLB players who don’t run to first base or opt out of contracts during the World Series, or the NFL players (Steve McNair anyone?) who sleepwalk through games or create drama off the field, or the various doped-up athletes across all of sports. The majority of NBA players bust their ass in an increasingly uptempo game (this isn’t the 90s anymore, fellas) and go about their business quietly and professionally. To a non-fan, baseball is too slow. Football is too Americanized and ridiculous (the Super Bowl is the single-most ridiculous thing on TV all year, I’m sorry). Hockey and soccer can’t relate. Basketball is by no means perfect, but it’s not any worse than any other major American sport. Give it a shot. Join a fantasy basketball league, which is by far the most fun fantasy sport of all.

    DC is part of our home – it sucks, and we all know it, but so does Baltimore in many ways, just like any city. But let’s be happy our 100 mile radius doesn’t consist of something far worse: the Midwest. Embrace, damnit!

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    Hahaha you had me ’til McNair! You have some good points but there are probably 1372 other NFL players you should point to before him. Hell there are probably 49 Ravens as well.

    That dude has played with the ravaged body of a crash-dummy for the last five seasons, most of it quite effectively. That guy has more toughness and heart than most. Sayin’.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    I went to a Wizards-Celtics game at the MCI Center a couple years back and it was alright – but living in York County, Pennsylvania at the time, it was a horrendous 2.5 hour drive with the traffic. It was terrible.

    A friend of mine up here in Rochester hails from Chevy Chase, D.C. and talks constant shit about Baltimore. I mean literally everytime he sees me he starts yelling about Gay Street. Juvenile? Yes, but it fosters the rift.

    I’ve followed the Terrapins for a good long while with my dad (our father-son thing in the winter, I suppose), so there’s not really a whole lot of room left in my life for more b-ball. So I meant The Terps win in my heart (the most important battleground).

  • sci

    Dan, I’m here to stick up for NBA coverage on this blog. I love the Wiz, but then again I grew up in Annapolis, so I also love the Skins. And of course I love the O’s (more than anything). It’s sometimes hard to be the combo O’s/Skins fan, but anyone who grew up in my area during the 80′s would understand.

    Anyway, the Wiz are a very likeable team. Gil is insane and totally fun to watch. And they are very underrated going into this year. I pick them to win the Southeast over the Heat. Bad loss to the Pacers to start the year though. No D yet again.

  • Joe the Guy

    Gil predicted a win against the C’s in Boston tonight…but did he Really?

    “When I said we were going to beat the Celtics on November 2, was that really a prediction? I don’t think I wanted to say, “Hey, we’re going to play Boston and we’re going to lose!” Agent Zero is coming in the building. I’m back. I know all you Boston fans are going to want to go to see Kevin Garnett, but y’all are going to see him 41 games. You’re only going to see me twice! Me and my handsome self…”

  • dan the man

    I absolutely cannot wait for this game tonight. I got the C’s by 8. Pay no attention to an 0-2 start from the Wizards, for the Heat have Ricky Davis. hahahaa