One of the nice things about going to Comcast SportsNet every week is the swag (free shit, not swagger). There are so many promotional items littering the newsroom that the bobbleheads outnumber the people, and that’s not even counting the talent. (Ding!)
So I keep my eyes open when
rummaging through drawers walking around, because you never know what you’ll find. Case in point: this 2′ tall, 18-page poster book for the ’03-04 Washington Wizards. The cover is suited for an infomercial dance CD, but the contents are 100% pure love.
It takes you through Washington’s first post-Michael Jordan roster, and, long gone though MJ was, his fingerprints are everywhere: Eight of the 13 players were acquired under his watch, with Jerry Stackhouse and Kwame Brown costing Rip Hamilton and a No. 1 overall pick, respectively.
It’s a roster that went 25-57 for the franchise’s sixth straight losing season and 12th in 15 years. They’re lovable in a Wizznutzz-ian way; the band of losers that brought us back from MJ depression. It’s Ernie Grunfeld’s first roster, and it includes his first big move: the signing of Gilbert Arenas. Big Ern would later spin Stack and Kwame into Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, and the Wizards have been making the playoffs ever since.
So turn the page after the jump for a trip to the not-so-distant past, and, if you only read two of the player quotes listed here, make them be from Kwame and Jarvis Hayes. They are so rich.
The mission statement:
The big free agent:
“You can trap me, you can double me, you can foul me, but the one thing you’ll never do is stop me. I WILL drive the lane.
I am Gilbert Arenas. We are the Wizards.”
The fading star:
“I don’t talk trash. I don’t call people names. I just very quietly take the rock to the rack and THROW IT DOWN HARD!
I am Jerry Stackhouse. We are the Wizards.”
The can’t-miss kid:
“My game is played above the rim. There’s not a shot I can’t block or a lob I can’t dunk. When I rise up, lookout below.
I am Kwame Brown. We are the Wizards.”
The local favorites:
“Pressure? Bring it on. That’s just motivation for me. And if you blink, I’ll fly right by you on my way to the hole.
I am Juan Dixon. We are the Wizards.”
“The name on the other guy’s jersey means nothing to me. I will out work, out practice and out sweat ANYONE.
I am Steve Blake. We are the Wizards.”
Just two guys:
“I’m working hard, ’cause I got a lot to prove. But it’s not work when you love the game.
I am Jared Jeffries. We are the Wizards.”
“People say I’m quiet, but that’s alright. I don’t say much, because my game says it all.
I am Larry Hughes. We are the Wizards.”
“The three point line doesn’t intimidate me. Leave me open behind the arch, and hear the crowd scream.
I am Chris Whitney. We are the Wizards.”
“Come out and stop my J and I’ll put it on the floor and take you to the hole. Pick your poison.
I am Jarvis Hayes. We are the Wizards.”
“I’ll crash the boards and work the paint but if you let me drift outside, I’ll make you pay.
I am Christian Laettner. We are the Wizards.”
“I go where the ball goes. I don’t care who has it or who’s in the way, I will get to the ball.
I am Etan Thomas. We are the Wizards.”
“I am a glass cleaner, a shot blocker, a two-handed rim shaker. Finesse? That’s for the little guys.
I am Jahidi White. We are the Wizards.”
“Inside’s where it’s at. I’ll be ready. Anytime, anywhere.”
I am Brendan Haywood. We are the Wizards.”
The sixth man:
Abe, Eddie and Big Ern:
“This is about the players, the coaching staff, the front office and the fans all reaching for a common goal, together. It’s about COMMUNITY.
I am Abe Pollin. We are the Wizards.”
“We’re an exciting young team, with the emphasis on team. Underestimate us and you’re in for a surprise.
I am Eddie Jordan, Head Coach. We are the Wizards.”
“We have a vision, and we’re building toward our goal with talented young players who share a passion for the game and a desire to win.
I am Ernie Grunfeld, President of Basketball Operation. We are the Wizards.”