WASHINGTON — It’s been so long since the Wizards were any sort of champion, we forgot how much time has actually passed.
It was 38 years ago the last time the Wizards or Bullets won a division title. A division title. Think about that for a second. The most basic of banners besides Attendance Champion has eluded this franchise since McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal.
You know what else happened the last time the Wizards won a division? The Dukes of Hazzard debuted on CBS, Michael Jackson released his “Off the Wall” album and Jimmy Carter was president. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve seen a Wizards team that’s been this successful.
It’s easy for us to overlook it still, given the history of teams in this town. I fall into that emotional cage all the time. But make no mistake, this Wizards team is good, and in a real position to succeed.
What makes things even brighter is they don’t see this as a “mission accomplished” type of moment. Look at how they celebrated in the locker room. No champagne, just water.
Even John Wall put it in perspective in a way that should make every Wizards fan feel optimistic about how this team is constructed mentally. Wall said, “It’s something that hasn’t been done in a long time, so it’s something that we can cherish. And it’s great for coach [Scott Brooks] to get it in his first year. But we have bigger goals, and our mind set on bigger things.”
That’s what I want to hear from my leader.
Every milestone should be celebrated, no doubt, but it also has to be put in perspective as a team. This Wizards group isn’t overachieving. Last year they had a setback, but that was after back-to-back playoff trips that saw them win a series in each. A division title is just getting back to the status quo for these guys.
This doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed anything. The Celtics are good and we’ve seen the Cavs’ panic-inducing struggles evolve into win streaks before. But you have to feel good about the direction the Wizards franchise is headed, and the situation that the rest of the conference is presenting this time around.
I get it. You’re confused because I’m the “friend zone” guy with D.C. teams. I know, it feels weird for me too. I caught feelings. We’ve seen the Caps go out the same way for years, so they make it harder on me emotionally. But this Wizards success is the new girl in town. Maybe she’s different. Maybe she’ll be the one.
I won’t be heartbroken if this team falls short of The Finals, obviously. But I do see something special with what Brooks is building. It’s a different Wizards team, with a better attitude, and a real confidence that they can be something special.
So until this ride comes to an end, I’ll just have to let my feelings get the best of me this time around.
Nick Ashooh is an on-air personality for 106.7 The Fan. He previously worked at WTEM for eight years. Follow him on Twitter: @NickAshooh