With the exception of the 1984 Championship Game (won, of course, by the Georgetown Hoyas), has there been a more memorable final game in the NCAA Tournament in recent memory than Monday night’s thrilling Duke v. Butler battle? In a contest that wasn’t decided until a buzzer-beating game-winning try barely clanged off the rim, Duke was able to do what none of the other #1 seeds could accomplished…they survived. Congrats go to Wizards assistant Gene Banks and assistant video coordinator Brett Greenberg, both proud Duke alums.
This morning I had the pleasure of the company of Bullets legend Gheorge Muresan as we teamed with Capital One volunteers to combine a financial education curriculum with basketball games in fun-filled day at Verizon Center. Big Gheorge and I helped host Capital One Bank Day, as we sought to help local middle and elementary school students learn about basic banking and money management, while putting those skills to the test by incorporating them into basketball-related contests. It was a fun day for all that I hope was helpful to the kids as they seek to develop the knowledge and skills they need to make smart money decisions as they grow older.
Tonight we’ll try for that elusive third-win-in-row against the Magic in Orlando. The team will head to Boston from Florida for Friday night’s clash with the Celtics, before returning home on Saturday night. Two more home games remain. I hope to see you there.
It’s been awhile since we last got to see the Wizards in action here at Verizon Center. The circus has since left our friendly confines so Tuesday marks the return of Wizards basketball. I’m not suggesting that ‘moral victories’ count for much, but if there is such a thing I can see some bright spots from a tough as can be imagined road trip…a hard-fought comeback effort last night in LA (though ultimately too late), an excruciating defeat at the buzzer in Portland, and a well-played game in Denver (the team’s fifth in six nights) last week…though we are still seeking to snap a long skid.
In other news, though my bracket took a beating with the demise of Kansas, Georgetown and Villanova, my prognosticated Championship Game of Kansas State vs. Kentucky still has a chance to come to fruition…and it’s up to Syracuse and West Virginia to carry the torch for the Big East. My bracket aside, what a tournament it has been!
Buzzer beaters everywhere…Murray St. (I lost), Washington (I lost), Northern Iowa (I won!).
Well — a review of my first day — what a disaster for my Bracket. I lost when I picked favorites, I lost when I picked upsets. Thank goodness I have a day job I love, because I’m not going to get hired as a college basketball analyst anytime soon. Also, the Big East has some work to do to redeem itself after a 1-3 day.
Highlights (there weren’t many for me):
ODU – They beat Georgetown here in DC earlier this season so I liked them over ND (even though this meant picking against a Big East team)
Villanova – Escaped…Scottie Reynolds is going to have to play better
Hoyas – I am in mourning…
Florida – I went with Mike Miller’s Alma mater to upset BYU…oh well
Vandy – I should have known better than to pick Commodores over Racers
Marquette – They are a better team than the one that blew a 15-point 2nd half lead
Richmond – On the day after St Patrick’s day, I should never have picked against the Gaels
It’s that special time of year for college hoops fans…the greatest 3 weeks in sports…except for the NBA season of course. The NCAA Tournament tips-off today – here’s my stab at perfection. I’ll be rooting hardest for the Georgetown Hoyas for two reasons. First-I’m a proud alumnus, but also they are a major tenant here at Verizon Center. What’s good for Georgetown is good for our arena, and good for the city. Hoya Saxa!
I also picked some teams with Wizards connections (Tennessee-Ernie Grunfeld, Villanova-Randy Foye, Wake Forest-Josh Howard, Florida State-Al Thornton and Sam Cassell, Florida-Mike Miller, Duke-Gene Banks, Cornell-Randy Wittman’s son Ryan…with apologies to Flip and Ryan’s 11th seeded Minnesota Gophers and James Singleton’s 13th seeded Murray State Racers, who have tough draws in the first round). My Big East bias probably also shows…
As far as our Wizards are concerned, what makes my job special is that I’m a fan at heart. Yes, it’s been a difficult season, but I’m a firm believer in finding silver linings. How can you not root for a young man like Shaun Livingston? Or Alonzo Gee, a young player that is making the most of his opportunity? I’m also ecstatic to see how Andray Blatche has stepped into the role of our go-to guy since the All-Star break, giving me plenty of reasons to be excited about our future.
CAPITAL AREA FOOD BANK
Off the court, we continue to honor the legacy of Mr. Abe Pollin – a man who never stopped giving. By providing 30 meals to the Capital Area Food Bank for every ticket sold in the lower level of Verizon Center for the game on April 4th, we’re trying to do as Abe would have done, aiming to eradicate hunger for DC’s underserved.
“LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS OH MY”
I’ll be sure to check-in again soon, so long as not trampled by an elephant on my way to the parking garage. The smell in the air means one thing to Verizon Center staffers – the circus is in town this week. If you plan on attending, enjoy, and watch where you step!
I wanted to share with you a letter Robert Pollin, CEO of Washington Sports and Entertainment, sent to our fans discussing the reasons behind the trade including the new players and the tremendous flexibility in moving forward to create a winning team. Click here to read it.
One of the best parts about working in professional sports are the relationships you build with the players. However, one of the hardest parts about working in pro sports is parting with the players with whom you’ve built such strong relationships. On Saturday, we parted with three of those players, including one of our captains, Caron Butler.
Caron has been an absolutely wonderful representative for both Mr. Pollin and our organization — showing what this franchise is about both on the court with his “Tough Juice” mentality — as well as his tremendous off-court charitable work through his 3D’s; Dedication, Determination, and Discipline.
I was lucky enough to spend significant time with Caron and his wife Andrea this summer during our trip to China to commemorate the 30 year anniversary of the 1978 Bullets’ visit there. I will miss him, Brendan, and DeShawn very much. I wish them the best in Dallas and will cheer them on in the playoffs.
Despite a rough couple of weeks I am really proud of the way the team has played lately. It started back on January 8th when we beat the Orlando Magic at home. If you play hard and play the right way everybody starts to notice and the wins will start to come. So, as we hit the halfway point of the season with our game tomorrow vs. Dallas, I want to reiterate what our head coach, Flip Saunders said. “Every down moment presents an opportunity.” I look forward to watching how our team will play given this opportunity.
I also want to commend our community relations department for their efforts that are being put towards the recovery in Haiti. Yesterday, Wizards Care hosted a Haiti relief collection during our home game vs. Portland, with all donations going directly to UNICEF. If you were unable to attend the game you can still support this effort by sending “wizards” via text message to 50555 (automatic $5 donation), or by writing checks made payable to ‘Wizards Care’. Our fans are the best and we thank you for your support during this time of need.
I couldn’t be more proud of the way our team responded at home tonight by beating the Orlando Magic 104-97. After a very tough week for the entire Wizards organization I feel that Antawn summed it up best as he addressed the crowd prior to tonight’s game…check out the video below:
National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern issued the following statement today:
“The possession of firearms by an NBA player in an NBA arena is a matter of the utmost concern to us. I initially thought it prudent to refrain from taking immediate action because of the pendency of a criminal investigation involving the office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department, and the consideration of this matter by a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia. For the same reason, I directed the Wizards to refrain from taking any action. Wizards personnel continue to be interviewed by law enforcement authorities, some are scheduled for appearance before the grand jury and the investigation is proceeding with the intensity that one would expect for such a serious incident.
“Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game. Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA.”
Wizards Statement On Suspension of Arenas:
“We fully endorse the decision of the NBA to indefinitely suspend Gilbert Arenas. Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert’s recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements last night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable. Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert’s behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin’s leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so.”
Ernie Grunfeld, President, Washington Wizards
Irene Pollin, Principal Owner, Washington Sports and Entertainment (WSE)
Robert Pollin, Chief Executive Officer, WSE
James Pollin, President, WSE
With a NEW YEAR comes new hope and a fresh start! That is exactly what I am looking for in regards to myself and the Washington Wizards. The Wizards will get the chance to start fresh with a home game against the San Antonio Spurs this Saturday. There is no better way to get over a loss then by winning! It was also inspiring to hear Coach Saunders tell me that Caron had the best practice of the year today…it shows me that we are in store for a great 2010!
To all my family, friends and WIZARDS FANS…I wish you a happy, healthy and safe new year!