We all miss basketball.
The sound of the ball as it goes through the hoop. The squeak of the sneakers on the hardwood. The roar of the crowd. Mike Breen’s “Bang!” or Boom Gonzales’ “Gets it to go!”
What’s the best way to cope when you miss something you can’t have at the moment? You write it a love letter.
Dear Washington Wizards,
For two-thirds of my lifetime, you’ve brought me despair. Every single time you gave me a sliver of hope, you took it away in the blink of an eye.
Remember 2006? I was nine years old. The year prior, you upset the Chicago Bulls to advance past the first round for the first time in my life, and the first time since 1982 for the entire franchise.
In ‘06, our first round match-up was against the young King, who in my adolescence, I had virtually no respect for. Everyone thought he was the up and coming guy, but you were the real up and coming team! You had the original Big Three!
Yet you were down 3-2 in the series after that good player on the Cavs hit a game-winning lay-up in Game 5. So for Game 6, I got up early on that Sunday morning and changed into my outfit for church three hours before I had to go. I was ready to watch you push it to Game 7 because I knew you could.
Down three with five seconds left in regulation, just when I thought you were about to let me down, Gilbert Arenas nailed a 30-footer to reignite you. Overtime. But also, the game now went over my allotted time, so my mom dragged me to the car to take me to church.
I learned 30 minutes later — right before stepping into the closed-off walls of the chapel — that you lost the series to a game-winner by Damon Jones.
You know that pain that Thunder and Rockets fans have courtesy of Damian Lillard? It stings to a point that it turns into added baggage. Damon Jones made me feel that at nine years old after what he did to you.
I remember fading into misery for the next hour of worship. Sorry to God, but that was the first time in my life that I learned about disappointment.
And you’ve never failed to disappoint me since. You proceeded to lose to the Cavs’ #23 guy for two more years. Then, after you shot down that 2006 team’s core, you tried to convince me that Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, and Nick Young were our future??
When we moved into the next decade, you brought in John Wall and Bradley Beal as reinforcements to once again take down the Cavaliers. For as much as I love those two, every single year that I thought you were ready to fight The King, you faltered before you could even get to his castle. Even when the greatest moment of my entire fandom put us within inches of the King, you were massacred just one game later by Kelly freakin’ Olynyk.
In my Jordan number of years on this earth, I’ve never made a lengthier commitment, been as vulnerable, or as been idiotically invested in anything as much as I have with you (to my future wife, don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll put up a good fight).
But as I sit here, unaware of when you’ll come back because of this unprecedented hiatus, I find myself once again re-entering your cycle; The one that begins with foolish hope.
This hope has been building over the last two months. First, Bradley Beal’s interview on The Lowe Post podcast talking about actually having a great relationship with John Wall, which contradicts all of the past media speculations about your two best knights. Next, there was Wall’s guest appearance on the All The Smoke podcast echoing Beal’s statements, then saying, he will return better than before. Finally, the NBA decided to feed my hope even more by replaying the aforementioned greatest moment of my Wizards’ fandom.
My mind now foolishly whispers to me:
“Eastern Conference Finals”
“Best Two-Way Point Guard in the league”
“NBA’s best backcourt”
It’s absurd and downright unjustifiable, and yet, 14 years since the first time you disappointed me, my mind still finds a way to convince me that there is some logic to my hope. I guess for as much as you’ve hurt me, I will always find my way back to you with renewed optimism.
It’s stupid, I know.
But is it really?