January 1, 2018

Stocking Stuffers

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone. Let's see if the new year does anything to cure the Wizards of this malaise they seem to have been in for this entire season. Spoiler alert: it likely won't. This will continue to go on for another month or more despite Markieff Morris' confident assertion that good things are coming and all will be well soon.

I took that last couple of weeks of 2017 off from this blog for some R&R and while I was (virtually) away, there were a handful of Wizards fan mini-events that happened around the holiday week that are worth probably discussing as a group but not necessarily worthy of their own posts. Yes, I'll touch on the continuing underperforming vs. teams with losing records but I'm pretty much glossing over that issue, much like the Wizards gloss over how to play hoops vs. inferior teams and then come up with excuses after those same losses. To tackle that issue in a blog post right will be too painful so I'm sort of skipping it. Let's go chronologically shall we?

Winter Solstice (December 21)
For the second straight year, the Wizards were good enough to host a holiday party / happy hour for season ticket holders in the Etihad Lounge on the floor level of Capital One Arena. Before you non-season ticket holders get too jealous, don't.

Yep, there were games and prizes and free holiday cocktails and free food. But the prizes were sort of left over surplus (I played trivia and came away with a shooting sleeve and a Wizards plastic bracelet; no idea what I do with those) and the grub didn't measure up to the usual Etihad Lounge fare which is typically pretty good. Notably bad were the fairly stale cupcakes with the wizard jumping over the crescent moon/basketball logo (maybe they were the same vintage as the now-retired logo?).

The couple of free holiday cocktails were a nice gesture but I could have done without the $11 price tag on the 16 oz. Budweisers. I'm complaining about something I didn't have to go to, I realize. This stuff's all part and parcel with the cost of tickets. Free or $5 beers would have been appreciated. Maybe next year?

Christmas Eve Eve Eve (December 22)
Just ten days after losing in Brooklyn to the miserable Nets, the Wizards made a return trip to New York to avenge their mid-December loss. Except that they didn't. Avenge it, that is. They were down 40 at one point in this game! 40!!!! To the Nets!!! Bradley Beal claimed after the game that teams were targeting the Wizards because the Wiz are an Eastern Conference contender or some such nonsense. You don't get down 40 to a team as bad as the Nets because of some onslaught of desire to topple one of the better teams in the league. The Wiz aren't serious and Beal's post-game narrative is a complete cop out. We need more locker room accountability.

But...I said I wasn't going to go into the Wizards' hopelessnesses against bottom feeders. Nope, what I want to talk about here is our hometown television coverage.

During each Wizards TV broadcast, announcers Steve Buckhantz and Kara Lawson highlight some plays during the game that become sponsored by NBC Sports Washington's advertising partners. These are ideal times for the folks that pay advertising dollars to the station to have their products mentioned alongside a Wizards highlight from the game. The issue I have here is that the highlights for the Honda Drive of the Game and the Campbell's Chunky Maxx Performer that night weren't of Wizards players doing good stuff but were instead of Nets players taking it to the hoop for a bucket (uncontested I might add).

What's up with that? I realize I'm picking about the most devoid of Wizards highlights game of the season but there were some highlights that were equal to Joe Harris (top photo of this post) or Spencer Dinwiddie (photo immediately above) scoring at will. I'm also not in favor of homer-ism to the max (or Maxx if you are Campbell's) but the TV station that covers the team ought to be able to have a policy of assigning these advertising moments to actual Wizards highlights, shouldn't they? I'm disappointed in NBC Sports Washington here.

By the way, is Marcin Gortat really pushing Otto Porter into Dinwiddie in the pic above? Or is it just a caught in the moment glitch? I mean he's shoving him with two hands, right?

Christmas Eve Eve
One night after the Wizards got drubbed by the lowly Nets, they headed home to take on the similarly bad Orlando Magic. After an embarrassing loss, the Wiz were up for this game and cruised to a 20 plus point victory. It was routine and it should have been.

The excitement I expected this game was the Wizards' unveiling of their fourth jersey or what Nike is referring to as the "City Edition". Based on the schedule on the Nike website (clip shown above), the jersey design, which was somehow leaked for every team on the NBA 2K18 videogame the previous week, was supposed to be released that night. Instead of getting a look at a maybe motivated but just equally as likely unmotivated Wizards team in their new kit, we got a look at the blue unis one more time (still missing the stripe that would make these threads killer). The conspiracy theory I started working on in my head about the players hating the City Edition turned out to be a fabrication. Turns out the "Jersey Dates Subject To Change" warning on the Nike site was true.

Christmas Day
About a month ago, I wrote a blog post summing up my thoughts on the first quarter of the season. One of my peeves about the first 20.5 games was the emergence of the Celtics as a legit Eastern Conference contender after turning over basically 3/4 of their roster while the Wizards stood pat / maintained consistency (depending on your point of view) and were struggling at a little better than .500.

So of course the underperforming Wizards went up to Boston on Christmas Day and knocked off the Celtics, the first time in more than three years (including four losses in the playoffs last year) that they have accomplished that in Beantown. Go figure. It was one of the finest performances in the season to date in a series of quality road wins. Surely this would be the turning point, right? Right? Right?

But that's not the important part of Christmas Day. I deliberately did not ask Santa for any Wizards stuff this year considering the state of play so far. I got one Wiz gift anyway and it's pretty much the best Wizards gift ever. Yep, it's a John Wall Funko Pop figurine. I love these things (we may have Jon Snow and Ghost figures at home already...OK, we do) so it's awesome to see the NBA partnering with Funko to get some of these made for fans like me. I love it. Not much more to say here other than he's not wearing the Nike uni. The Easter egg on the bottom of the shorts is intact. See here for more on that.

The Day After Boxing Day (December 27)
I'm  not very good at conspiracy theories. The day after a quiet (NBA-wise) Boxing Day saw the official release of the Nike City Edition jerseys. The Wizards' entry? A white on white offering sporting "The District of Columbia" where the "Washington" and "Wizards" appears on their other three jerseys.

It's not the worst thing in the world. Like a lot of folks out there on Twitter I'm not thrilled with the "of Columbia" part of the jersey but also agree with a lot (maybe the same lot) of folks who have made the point that people don't refer to D.C. as just "The District" much. It's generally in keeping with the theme of the Wizards' other jerseys (unlike some other team's City Editions) which I love. I'm not crazy about the marble-esque pattern on the sides of the jerseys but it's not going to keep me up at night.

I do LOVE the D.C. flag on the "belt buckle" of the shorts. This is one of the truly great flags in the world. If I ever get a tattoo (I know...I'm almost 50), 80% chance it's a variant of that flag. I think we got away with a good design here. I'm going to hate the Wiz wearing these things at home because deep down inside I believe teams should wear home unis with the team nickname on them, not the team city. But since Nike's blown that whole thing up with the abandonment of home / away threads, I'm going to let it go.

As an aside here, New Era (one of the NBA's official hat partners) has released a series of hats to mirror the City Edition unis. I hate the faux marble veining on the hat and I object to white hats in general (they show dirt although marbling will admittedly counter that) but I'm seriously thinking about one of these.

So that's my essay on the holiday season 2017, Wizards style. Back in action Wednesday against the Knicks. We have to win that one, don't we. A little more confidence at this point after the Bulls win.

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