What are the best moments the Washington Wizards have had this century? We tried to answer that very question on this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast!
“Best” could be interpreted it a lot of ways but I selfishly looked at it as the moments that brought me the most joy as a Wizards fan. On the podcast, we talked about several others that didn’t make the top 5 for Osman Baig and I so feel free to check that out for our honorable mentions. And let us know in the comments what your top 5 would be!
1) John Wall’s game-winning three in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against Boston in 2017
The Wizards were down 91-89 until Wall hit that three to give them the 92-91. Wall started the game 1-12 from the field and Bradley Beal started the game 0-7 from three. Beal hit a three late and went on a big run of his own to put them into position and then Wall hit the dagger. Wall finished 9-25 (2-5 from three) for 26 points and 8 assists. Beal was 15-26 overall (1-8 from three) and had 33 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists. The entire bench chipped in a whopping 13 points.
They ultimately lost the series so maybe that warrants a downgrade but in terms of most hyped single moments I’ve had as a fan, this has to take the cake. (Author’s note: I fully admit there could be some recency bias here as most of the other things on this list are much older).
2) Gilbert Arenas outdueling Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in the same week in 2006
In a match-up with the Lakers, Arenas had 60 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists to Bryant’s 45 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists. As if that wasn’t enough, five days later, Arenas scored 54 points against the Phoenix with their best defenders (Shawn Marion included) draped all over him. Once again, he outshone one of the games top stars as Steve Nash had 42 points and 12 assists.
Arenas banked in a three with 30 seconds left in overtime to secure the win, ending a 15-game winning streak for the Suns. Not only was he putting up big numbers, it resulted in the Wizards beating good teams. In a seven game span, Arenas scored 60, 23, 30, 54, 31, 39, and 36 points. The Hibachi was cooking and that is the most fun two-week stretch I’ve had as a sports fan.
3) Gilbert Arenas’ game-winner against the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the first round of the 2005 playoffs
The Wizards lost the first two games against the #4 seeded Bulls. They came back to win the series 4-2, partially buoyed by a clutch 112-110 win in Game 5. Larry Hughes was my favorite player and had 33 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals in that game so I was really excited about his performance. At the end of the game, Arenas was only 5-14 for the game but decided to ignore the play being called for Hughes and opted to shoot a game winner over Kirk Hinrich.
I went nuts when he made that shot. It wasn’t just that they won but how they won. Coming back in the series gave me a tone of hope for the future of the team. Ultimately, the next few years didn’t play out how I hoped. But at the time, I was on cloud nine.
4) The Wizards winning the NBA Draft Lottery in 2010
The Wizards had the fifth best odds of winning the top pick but somehow pulled it off. The franchise was at an all-time low point after the Arenas gun incident and Abe Pollin’s recent passing. The Wizards really needed a shot in the arm and winning the right to draft John Wall first overall provided that.
In a draft that also produced DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, and Paul George, it seems like the Wizards had Evan Turner, who ultimately went second, next on their draft board. Imagine a world where the Wizards end up with the second pick in that draft and get Turner instead of Wall. That may actually be the darkest timeline.
5) The Wizards sweeping the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs
The Wizards won the fourth and final game of that series in convincing fashion, 125-94. This selection might be somewhat controversial in the top five but after the way they performed in this series, I was so confident they were going to take down the Atlanta Hawks and make their deepest playoff run in my lifetime. Unfortunately, Wall broke his hand in Game 1 of the second round and the rest was history. But for a few days I allowed myself to dream about maybe, just maybe, they could get lucky and sneak their way into the NBA Finals.
Osman Baig, my co-host for this episode, had a somewhat different list and a few inclusions I wish I had thought of. For the explanation of his selections, check out the podcast.
1) 2005 Playoffs versus the Chicago Bulls
2) Michael Jordan decided to actually play for the Wizards (I honestly can’t believe I didn’t think to include this)
3) Wizards winning the 2010 lottery
4) Wall’s Game 6 game winner
5) Paul Pierce’s “I called game” game-winner versus the Atlanta Hawks (this was my honorable mention selection)