At first, I didn't think they'd do it. In today's win all or win nothing NBA environment, I thought there was a good chance the Washington Wizards would skip the ceremonial raising of a Division Championship banner. I mean how silly is it to watch a piece of cloth pulled up from the hardwood court to sit among similar banners hanging in the rafters of Capital One Arena when all you have done is finished first in a five team division? Come on, it's five teams. You should be winning once every five years on average.
But the Wizards don't win the division once every five years. In fact, as I've ranted and raved about many many times in this blog, they haven't won one since 1979. That's 38 years ago. And they've never won one as the Wizards or in the District. Last time they hoisted one of these things, it was in the 1970s, a year removed from an NBA Championship and they were called the Bullets and played in Maryland. As if all my fears about the Wizards skipping this thing that I'd waited through 17 years of being a season ticket holder for weren't enough, I attended the Washington Capitals season opener earlier this month. They won a division last season. No banner raising.
Then on Monday we got an email from the team. Get to the arena early on opening night for the "special pregame programming" that was supposed to last all of 15 minutes starting at 6:30. This had to be it, right? Right.
Wrong. My original instinct was right. The promised "special pregame programming" was a ruse. It never happened. I was in my seat at 6:30 on the dot, ready for what I was sure would be a cathartic banner raising after 17 years of being a Wizards season ticket holder. I got bubkus. Nothing. Nada. The banner was already in place when we got to Capital One Arena tonight. And to make matters worse, it was just a tack on to a new compendium of franchise division championships banner. Sure the 2016-2017 Washington Wizards are there at the very bottom but I really wanted one of my own. I'm disappointed and disheartened. I get that it's JUST a division championship but come on...it's been almost four decades.
It's almost difficult for me to say that I'm so proud of this team for finishing first in the Southeast Division last year. Difficult because it sounds so silly to be celebrating something that a lot of franchises (including the Wizards apparently) don't even bother celebrating any more because just winning a division means nothing compared to what that team's expectations have become every year. But I'm not a fan of those other teams and I don't have that expectation. Yet. I hope one day I will. Until then, I'm going to revel in knowing there's finally a banner hanging in the rafters for a team that I watched, one called the Washington Wizards, even if the team paid it no mind whatsoever.
Congratulations to all those fans who have suffered years and years for this moment, even if we really didn't get our moment. I'm right there with you. Let's see one of these a lot more often in the next decade please, starting with this season right in front of us.
At least, I guess, I finally get to see the Capital Bullets banner I've been after the team to raise for years. Wizards are 1-0. This was a missed opportunity for me. Huge mis-step by the team.