All posts in basketball

03Jul

Patience With Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld Is Running Low

For the first time in more than a quarter century, a professional sports franchise in one of the big four leagues located in Washington, D.C. brought home a championship.

While a team needs an abundance of luck to accomplish such a remarkable feat, there’s more to it than that. Closing your eyes, crossing your fingers, and praying that some sort of divine intervention bails you out at the 11th hour doesn’t really constitute much of a plan. Unless, of course, if you’re the general manager of the Washington Wizards.

Fortunately for Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld, most D.C. sports fans are still swimming victory laps in fountains and therefore missed his latest attempt to set the D.C. basketball franchise back another few years.

But before diving into this year’s NBA Draft, let’s pause for a minute and go back to the days immediately following Washington’s postseason elimination at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. During his end-of-season exit interview, point guard and face of the franchise John Wall decided to lay all of his cards on the table and spell out exactly what he felt needed to change in order for his team to compete with the league’s best teams.

“I think it’s pretty obvious,” Wall said. “I don’t need to point it out. I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things. We don’t really have an athletic big. I mean, Ian [Mahinmi] is older. March [Marcin Gortat] is older. They’re not athletic guys, but they do the little things that permit their game to help as much as possible.”

While Wall, and anyone else who has watched the Wizards play basketball the last few seasons, might think it’s obvious that Washington remains at a disadvantage until they catch up to today’s game, the one person in a position to fix this flawed franchise’s foundation has given fans little reason to believe he’s capable of accomplishing that mission.

Rather than stepping back and viewing the situation with a critical eye, Grunfeld seems much more content to blame injuries, bad luck, or the boogeyman for the Wizards’ continued shortcomings.

“If you look at the overall picture of where we are, I think we’re in pretty healthy shape as far as our core is concerned,” Grunfeld said during the introductory press conference for first-round draft pick Troy Brown Jr. “Of course, we need some improvement from everybody but we have a solid, veteran team of young players that have been through it already. These are experienced young players that still have room for growth, but they’ve accomplished some things.

“They’ve been to the second round,” he continued. “They’ve been through wars. Last year, losing to Toronto—Otto [Porter Jr.] didn’t play in Game 6 and he played hurt the previous couple games, trying to do whatever he could and we had leads in the fourth quarter in three out of our four losses. A shot doesn’t go in and that’s basketball. But overall, the way it ended was disappointing for all of us because we expected more. And I think our players are going to use that as motivation and work hard this summer and come back again and give it another shot and see what we can do.”

To read the full column, head over to the City Paper’s website.

06Mar

Beal and friends hold off Heat for overtime victory

Led by All Star shooting guard Brad Beal, the Washington Wizards jumped out to a huge first quarter lead over the Miami Heat at Capital One Arena, March 6. Unfortunately for the home team, by the time the opening quarter ended, Miami had already cut the deficit to just five points. At halftime, the Wizards led by nine. But once again, the Wiz were unable to close out the Heat. Thanks to 30 points from Beal, who made six of seven shots from three-point range, and 19 points and seven assists from point guard Tomas Satoransky, the Wizards were able to hold off and eventually spick up a 117-113 overtime victory.

With point guard John Wall still sidelined as he recovers from knee surgery, these are the types of gritty performances Washington needs more of if they’re going to make any noise come playoff time. To see more of my photos from this game, head over to The Sports Capitol.

16Jan

Wizards have no answers for Antetokounmpo

After winning six of their previous eight games, the Washington Wizards hoped to continue their hot streak as they hosted the Milwaukee Bucks for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee matchup at Capital One Arena, January 15. Shortly after tipoff though, it was readily apparent that forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had other plans. The Greek Freak dominated the day with 27 points and 20 rebounds, leading the Bucks to a relatively easy 104-95 win over the Wizards. All Star point guard John Wall had 27 points and nine assists, but Washington’s 24 turnovers were simply too much to overcome. To see more of my photos from this game, head over to The Sports Capitol.

12Nov

Cavaliers prove too much for shorthanded Wizards

One day after the defending NBA champions visited the White House, the Cleveland Cavaliers remained in our nation’s capital to take on the Washington Wizards. While LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and friends are a tough enough opponent as it is, the Wizards faced the Cavs without the services of shooting guard Bradley Beal, who sat out the contest with a sore hamstring.

Led by all star point guard John Wall, the Wizards actually managed to go toe-to-toe with the champs throughout the first half — and led the game by as much as 12 points during the opening half. But Washington’s lack of depth was evident in the second half as Cleveland cruised to an easy 105-94 victory at the Verizon Center on Veteran’s Day.

Special thanks to Hoop District for allowing me to cover the game on their behalf. To see the full gallery of my action shots, click here.

29Jan

10 thoughts on the wizards 96-94 loss to the kings

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Monday night I headed to the Verizon Center to cheer on one of the local sports teams. As you might expect, that’s not all that unusual.

But I wasn’t there to take in a Washington Capitals. Instead, for the first time in a long, long time, I was there to see the Wizards in action.

Unless I’m mistaken, the last time I attended a Wizards game, they were a mediocre playoff team led by the trio of Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Need to say, none of the current players on the Wiz roster were on this squad back then.

And while they’re more than likely destined to miss the postseason for a fifth-consecutive year, the Wizards are actually playing halfway decent basketball these days. With that in mind, here are 10 random thoughts that come to mind after watching the Wizards fall to the Sacramento Kings 96-94:

1. This team is clearly nothing without point guard John Wall. With him, the Wizards were easily the worst team in basketball — going just 5-28 in the 33 games Wall was sidelined while recovering from a stress injury to his left knee cap. Since his return, Washington has gone 6-4 and has actually been competitive every single night.

The same holds true, albeit to a lesser degree, during individual games. Wall is a dynamic player with speed most players can only dream of, so when he’s pushing the ball up court in a hurry, it often times leads to easy buckets for the Wiz. Without him prominently involved though, Washington’s offense is a lot less formidable and often times struggles to score with any level of consistency.

Read more →

05Jul

introducing baby mcfanboy

Just a quick programming note for the website. As you can see from the photo above, the McFanboy clan has signed a new free agent. After an extended stay at the hospital, everyone is healthy, happy and (finally) … home. It’s going to take us a little while to get the hang of this whole “parenthood” thing, so please bear with me if a couple days go by in between posts. I promise, the new guy is worth the trouble. Cheers.

23Jul

what we’re reading

(courtesy photo)

Sorry for the lack of content this week. My schedule has been fairly hectic, but with Redskins training camp right around the corner, it’s a safe bet that I’ll be back in action next week. In the meantime, here are a few links to tide you over:

The Washington Capitals are in the news this week and it’s for all the right reasons. The Caps donated equipment to the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program and then hosted a hockey clinic involving 40 wounded servicemembers. Very cool stuff.

In other Caps news, Alex Ovechkin recently suited up for Dynamo back in Mother Russia. To recap, while Albert Haynesworth, the Redskins $100-million athlete, can’t be bothered to practice, Ovechkin, the Caps $100-million man, is willing to play pickup wherever they’ll have him. Which team do you think is happier with their investment?

And finally, the cleverly-titled King of Leonsis blog asks the simple question – is Tomas Fleischmann worth the cash? The answer is no, but you should still give it a read anyway.

The Nationals won 7-1 yesterday, which is newsworthy because it was the first time the team won a game in which Stephen Strasburg wasn’t involved since July 8th. Prior to Thursday’s victory, the Nats were 3-0 in Strasmas games and 0-7 when anyone else took the mound in their last 10 games. And yet, team president Stan Kasten believes his Nats are “so much closer than it appears.” Spend some money to get some more depth in the lineup and I might actually agree with you, Stan.

If the Nationals are going to be competitive anytime soon, they’ll likely need to add more to the lineup. That would mean players like Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and Matt Capps – all of which have been mentioned in trade rumors over the last month – would likely stay around. SB Nation DC looks at the value of keeping Dunn on board.

According to Bullets Forever, Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld is the 18th best GM in the NBA. I’m not sure I’d rank him that high – especially after giving Gilbert Arenas a six-year, $111-million contract in 2008 and his continual desire to trade away top five draft picks and get nothing in return – but it’s still worth checking out.

In preparation for training camp, the folks at NFL.com take a look at the 2010 Redskins. In their opinion, the transition to a 3-4 scheme on defense, the wide receiver battle and the renovated offensive line are the biggest focal points.

In other Redskins-related news, Skinscast is back for a fifth season. With a new general manager, a new head coach, a new quarterback and countless other changes from last season at Redskins Park there’s no shortage of stuff to talk about concerning the burgundy and gold.

And finally, former Redskins tight end Clint Didier has a new teammate – Sarah Palin. Try not to hold it against him.

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