SportsTalk Live: Win a relief for the Wizards?
Charles Barkley is known for having an appetite, so maybe the Wizards simply wanted him to eat his words.
Following Monday night’s blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Barkley compared the Wizards to the Washington Generals and predicted that the Portland Trail Blazers were going to “look like the ’86 Bulls to them.”
[It was the ’96 Bulls that went an NBA-best 72-10, but you get the point].
So now that they finally have their first win under their collective belts, a hard-fought 84-82 win over the Trail Blazers, how do the Wizards feel about spending nearly a month as the butt end of NBA jokes?
“It was embarrassing,” Wizards swingman Martell Webster said. “Charles is going to be Charles. He’s funny. There’s been many a time other teams have been in the gauntlet and they’ve gotten it.
“I don’t pay attention to it. I didn’t see it. But we’re definitely an underdog. We’re definitely looked at as the losers of the league. That’s OK. We believe in each other and that’ the only thing that matters.”
If nothing else, Wizards coach Randy Wittman has been painfully honest about his team during its worst November in team history. But he still believes he has the players on his roster to turn this dreadful season around.
“When you’re 0-12 guys are going to make fun of you,” he said. “That’s our business. Nobody wants to be in that position, but that’s the nature of the business.
“When you get to this level you’ve got to have some thick skin. You’ve got to be able to overcome those things and I think for the most part these guys have.
“We have battled and battled and battled, with a few exceptions, and that’s not an easy thing to do when you’re 0-12 – to battle, battle and lose. If you don’t have a tough mind you’re not going to come out and play the way we did tonight.”
Wednesday night’s victory was the first of rookie Bradley Beal’s NBA career and the 19-year-old guard was downright defensive when told of Barkley’s comments.
“That’s just the outside looking in,” Beal said. “They don’t know how hard we work or what we do in practice or what we’re capable of doing. They don’t see that. They just see us playing and the scores. We don’t pay any attention to that.”
Clearly, the Wizards will need to win a lot more than one game to change the opinions of analysts around the NBA. And with their next three opponents – the Knicks, Heat and Hawks – a combined 29-11, it might be a tough sell.
Unless, of course, you have the mindset of Wizards shooting guard Jordan Crawford, who leads the team in scoring with a 12.8 average.
“It’s a blessing to play this game in the NBA,” Crawford said when asked about starting the season with 12 straight losses. “To travel and see each city for free. It’s a blessing to play this game. Even though it was rough losing games you gotta know you’re in a better situation than a lot of people.”
For the record, the Wizards are still on pace to win just six games this season. But if you see the world through the eyes of Crawford, adversity is another word for opportunity.
“You learn not to take this game for granted,” Crawford said. “We’re in a great position in the NBA to make history.”