Having attended Games 3 and 4 of the Washington Wizards Playoff Series against the Chicago Bulls, I am reminded that a team of professional athletes who demonstrate poise, professionalism, and understand the team concept not only can win, but can get the backing of a city.
Having cleaned out the knuckleheads from the team, the Wizards have built a collection of veterans and young star players that any fan can be proud to root for. One of the most stunning things that I have witnessed in my many years as a Wizards fan was the action taken by Nenê in Game 3, causing his being tossed from the game and suspended for Game 4. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to meet Nenê, and found him incredibly easy-going and lighthearted. The Wizards team has consistently noted the professionalism he has brought to the locker room, and the leadership he has provided to young players including John Wall and Bradley Beal.
That’s why I was so surprised by his actions. Despite being a Wizards fan, after seeing a player repeatedly on tv, I believed that the NBA had no choice but to suspend Nenê. Many thought that this would be the start of a downslide for the Wizards in this series against the Bulls and lead to an early end to the playoffs for the Washington team.
However, the players rallied, as did the fans at the Verizon Center. In an arena where, for many seasons, the majority of the fans were there to see the visiting team, or a superstar on the visiting team, the Verizon Center rocked a Wizards tune from the time the doors opened for Game 4, til the last loud chant of “Free Nenê” ended.
The enthusiasm that the city has shown habitually for its NFL team, and more recently for the Washington Nationals and the Washington Capitals, now seems to have been earned by the Wizards.
Congratulations to the Wizards for what they have done to date, and to the fact that they have a future that long-time fans like the undersigned can really look forward to.
Steven T. Blomberg