A crowd estimated at 2,100 filed into the Patriot Center at George Mason University Tuesday night, lured by games of roulette, the Wizards dance team and a free performance by rapper Wale.
In between, rookie Bradley Beal and the Wizards took part in their final scrimmage game at GMU, their training camp home for the past eight days.
The Wizards are hoping the arrival of Beal, taken third overall in the 2012 NBA draft, will help cultivate new fans and turn last years skeptics into this years believers.
We believe in RG3 and we believe in Bradley, said Darnell Roberts, 16, of Herndon, who attended Tuesday nights event with three of his friends. With him and John Wall we can build a team around them.
The Wizards finished with the second-worst record in the NBA last season 20-46 and are hoping the arrivals of Beal, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster and A.J. Price will lift them into playoff contention.
I think it is a playoff team, but I dont think they know that yet, said Robert Crews, 17, of D.C. They need to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
The Wizards first home preseason game is slated for Thursday night at the Verizon Center and Marcos Lopez, 18, of Arlington, said hes hoping the building has a better feeling than it did last year.
Last year was so negative, Lopez said. Every time Andray Blatche stepped on the court they booed him. Thats got to change.
Wizards guard Janerro Pargo agrees, saying its important the Wizards start learning how to win games, even preseason games.
I think its important to play every game you play, Pargo said.
Crews said hes hoping the infusion of Beal into an offense featuring John Wall could make that difference, but still believes the Wizards lack something.
What we need is a superstar, Crews said. A superstar thats going to last. The Lakers got Kobe Bryant, the Heats got Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. I think we need a superstar. If Bradley Beal can step up well be all right. But we need a leader. Maybe Okafor will be that for us.
Meshailay Thomas, 35, of Woodbridge, brought her three daughters Jorden, 12, Kair, 6, and Laila, 5 -- to Tuesday nights event just to give them the opportunity to see the Wizards up close and have some fun with team mascot G-Wiz.
I think this is a great event, she said. My husband, Karl, is a big Wizards fan, so Ill be getting him some tickets this season. I think itll be a good one. Well see.