Edited by Peep Game - 10/17/12 at 3:13pm
That was after Webber's arrest in 1998.
The club needed to break up the Howard/Webber duo once their partying became a PR issue and the team failed to meet expectations. They'd signed Juwan Howard to an impossibly stupid $100 million contract back in '96, after nearly losing him to the Miami Heat. (The deal had already been signed, but the league invalidated it as a violation of the salary cap.) Given his production, no team in the league would touch him. It took years before they were finally able to dump him off on Dallas. That left Webber as the only player left they could possibly move.
Mitch Richmond was considered one of the best "under the radar" players in the league. (The guys on NBATV's "Open Court" acknowledged as much in a recent episode.) MJ himself thought highly of him, and prevailing wisdom held that Richmond would've been a superstar had he only played in a major media market. He was also a model citizen.
The Wizards' logic - and, granted, it's stupid - was to dump a "knucklehead" and bring in a franchise-caliber player who the organization and the city could be proud of. The Kings' motivation was obvious, but bear in mind that Webber was still considered something of a risk at that time. The Kings felt that the dearth of nightlife activities in Sacramento helped minimize that risk, which made them a more eager trade partner than most.
It's impossible to believe that Richmond really was the best deal on the table, as it rarely makes sense to trade big for small, let alone young for old, but this was a very "image conscious" team and bringing in more young kids frightened the club's increasingly-conservative management.
What they did was similar, in spirit, to Portland breaking up the so-called "Jailblazers." They got worse - much worse - under the rationale that fans would prefer clean-cut losers to "thugs." (This was only a few years before the NBA instituted its "professional dress requirements" to placate racist fans.)
Everyone knew it was a lopsided trade and the Wizards were roundly lambasted in the press for it, but the local media also flipped out when it seemed the Wizards had lost Howard to the Heat. (I remember Michael Wilbon, then a journalist, dashed out a particularly indignant rant on the subject for the Washington Post.) The team was damned if it did and damned if it didn't, and management resigned themselves to failure. Webber/Howard/Strickland never lived up to their billing, earning only a first round sweep at the hands of the Bulls - and they needed a tie-breaking win against the Cavs in the last game of the regular season to even accomplish that. Rebuilding was inevitable and they likely wanted to at least have one true pro on the roster to help future picks progress.
It'll go down as one of the worst trades in league history, but it is helpful to place it in its proper context. It was a bad decision on every level, but it wasn't strictly a basketball decision.
And honestly, the atmosphere in the 400 level during a big game is pretty good.
I usually sit in the lower bowl and there it's 90% corporate. You'll sit next to idiots on cell phones the entire time, or people who show up midway through the second quarter, don't even follow the game, and are there for no discernible reason.
I've been in second row seats to watch Michael Jordan and I've been in 400 level seats practically up against the wall to see the Heat play, and there's more energy in the 400 level - hands down. I'm not going to sit here and say I prefer nosebleed seats to floor seats, but I think you'll have a good time.
Well, the preseason certainly ended on a sour note. Beal logged his worst game as a pro: zero points (0-6 from two, 0-2 from three, no FTA), one assist, one rebound, three fouls, and two turnovers in 19 minutes. The rest of the team didn't look much better. Thankfully, we can put all of that behind us now and wipe the slate clean heading into Tuesday's season opener against the hated Cavs.
I think AJ Price earned the starting nod, but who knows what Wittman's thinking for positions 2-4? Ariza did absolutely nothing to earn a starting spot. Webster certainly outplayed him, and received more minutes than Singleton in recent games. Booker played well at times, so you probably have to consider him the favorite to open the year at power forward until Nene gets back. As sick as I am of Crawford's streak shooting, it's entirely possible that he'll be named the starting 2 on opening night, and they're more likely to try and wedge him into the point spot than they are to replace him with Beal outright.
IF that were the case, we'd be starting:
which is a lineup that strikes fear into the hearts of precisely no one.
It could be a rough start until Wall and Nene get back.
I'm still heated that they never retired #23. MIAMI retired #23 for crying out loud.
No class. Jordan accepted a MINIMUM salary and donated it to charity. He had to sell his shares of the team in order to do it. That's how this organization repaid him?
And Ted Leonsis - the guy who convinced MJ to become the president of basketball operations to begin with - is now the only one preventing the team from raising MJ's jersey to the rafters where it belongs. There's no Abe Pollin to blame for the whole thing anymore. He had the chance to at least TRY to salvage a little dignity for the organization and show respect to the greatest ever to play the game. He didn't.
You wonder why players have no respect for this franchise. If that's how they treat MJ, what do you think they'll do to you?