Washington Wizards: On the Rebound

After another year of incompetence, embarrassment, and shame from the Redskins, and a rough PR year for the NFL, my taste in football soured and I went searching for another team to become invested in. Since I am fiercely loyal toward DC teams and a big basketball fan it was natural to pivot towards the Wizards. After attending several games I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed watching the team as well as the atmosphere in the Verizon Center. After a few games there was no turning back: I was hooked on the Wizards.

The first Wizards game I went to was the Cleveland Cavaliers game and I am ashamed to admit it was more to see LeBron James play than the Wizards. I was then stunned to see that the Cavs actually looked meek and that the best player on the court wasn’t King James, but Washington’s John Wall. John Wall outplayed LeBron in every aspect of the game, dropping 28 points on them. Wall’s high played was greeted with chants of MVP ringing through the Verizon Center. The feeling in the arena was electric, and I thought to myself, “This is so much better than going to a Redskins game.”

I attended four Redskins games last year which ranged from passable to awful. The Redskins fans booed their own team in every game I went to, including the game in which the Redskins outsucked the hapless Titans. Every aspect of the Redskins experience is time-consuming; whether you drive or Metro, it’s going to take at least an hour and a half, and that’s if you’re lucky. The traffic getting into and out of the stadium is a nightmare (not to mention expensive–$20 for parking) and the closest Metro stop is a 20 minute walk away, at the very end of the silver and blue lines. The security to get in the stadium is horrendous. You can’t bring a purse bigger then a wallet (my buddy’s girlfriend emptied hers out and stuck it in her jacket), and it took us an hour and a half to get through the line, causing us to miss the entire first quarter. In fact, I missed the first quarter in all the games I went to, despite arriving almost two hours early to the games. I can’t leave out the drunk and aggressive fans, of both the Redskins and the visiting teams. After the Cowboys game I was harassed by smug drunk Cowboys fans (who probably couldn’t even find Dallas on a map) telling everyone that Romo was the MVP and that the Cowboys would win the Super Bowl, while Redskins fans cursed back at them. The shouting match almost turned into a brawl; I would never recommend taking any kids to a Redskins game.

Wizards games are a different story. The Verizon Center is located in Chinatown, easily accessible using the Gallery Place Metro stop (Red, Yellow, Green lines) or with a short walk to Metro Center (Orange, Blue, Red, Silver). The Verizon Center has openings all over the arena, making entering the arena an easy process. I can arrive five minutes before tipoff and still get through security, walk up the stairs, and make it to my seat before the game starts. Yes, you read that correctly–FIVE MINUTES. Fans at the Verizon Center like to have fun but show none of the aggression or drunkenness that Redskins fans do. The Verizon Center is a perfect place for any occasion a date, hanging with your boys, or bringing your family.

Over the course of the Wizard’s season I attended 26 games (including playoffs), and the Wizards won 16 of them, a win ratio of about 61%. Redskins, by contrast, lost three out of the four games I attended. In those 26 Wizard games I got to see some amazing plays, dazzling acrobatic layups from John Wall, thunderous dunks from Nene, and precision sniper threes from Bradley Beal. I got to witness the heart pounding buzzerbeater “I CALLED GAME!” shot by Paul Pierce, saving the Wizards (who had almost blown a 20 point lead) from an epic collapse. It was one of those sports moments that you never forget, and without a doubt the most clutch sports moment I have ever witnessed. Pierce infused the Wizards with blistering swagger and gave the most epic post game interview I have ever seen. These moments not only make the Wizards incredibly fun to watch but give me hope for future season playoff success. The feeling of the Redskins are completely different; not only are playoffs a laughable dream for them, but even an 8-8 finish seems hopeless.

Since going to my first Redskin game as a child I always wanted season tickets. After enduring the bad stadium experiences, horrendous management, and continued ineptitude of the Redskins, I have found a hidden treasure in the Washington Wizards. I signed up for Wiz season tickets at 1/3 of the price of Redskins tickets (with five times as many games), and I can’t wait for John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat and the rest of the Wizards to continue to make DC proud and achieve a seemingly insurmountable feat: bringing a championship to DC.