Nov 19, 2010

Reader Participation Day!

It's Friday, Thanksgiving is coming up, and if you're lucky enough to have a job, you're probably spending the afternoon on Facebook. With that in mind, ZardsALards! has two opportunities, for you, the reader, to get involved in the NBA's online community:

1. This morning, while happily perusing various Wiz related items over a delicious bowl of Count Chocula and dreaming up scenarios in which the Wizards win the championship (basically, reverse Space Jam), we stumbled across this piece of vicious Celtic fan bullying. What a bunch of gloating gloaters.

Do you think Internet bullying is a problem? Do you wish you could deliver the Celtics their comeuppance but don't currently play in the NBA? Do you delight in introducing dissonant sound to an echo chamber? Well then get over to the comment section at CelticsHub and say something! Feel free to read my defense of the Zards for inspiration (comment #36, in case by the time you get there the wall is flooded with pro Wiz posts, a likely likelihood). If ZA nation can muster three pro-Wizards comments, we'll declare a national holiday. Posts in the form of haiku count for two.

2. Apparently Antonio Daniels, former Wizards great, is playing for the DLeague's Texas Legends as he attempts to bounce back from a 2009 knee surgery. Last night he scored 19 points in a heartbreaking loss to last year's DLeague champs, the Rio Grande Vipers.

In honor of AD's courageous spirit, ZardsALards! is commissioning our first ever contribution. If you can make it to Frisco, Texas and obtain a one on one interview with Antonio Daniels, ZA will pay up to $10 for the resulting profile. In the meantime, emotional discussions of Mr. Daniels' too brief time with the Wizards are welcome below.

Nov 17, 2010

A Tree Falls in the Forest

The Wiz took it to the Raptors last night, establishing that there is at least one team in the NBA that is definitively worse than ours. So we've got that going for us, which is nice. Zards ALards! was once again in attendance (record with ZA in the building: 2-0, record without: 1-6) taking it all in. This time around we even got to do a little coaching, since the place was quiet enough for well-timed shouts to carry easily onto the floor. Announced attendance was 11,513, but if that's true, those were the quietest eleven thousand people in the District. Sure it was a Tuesday night, with no John Wall (or Yi), against Toronto, but there were tickets on StubHub for $2. Two dollars! Buy the tickets!

The 6,000 or so who did turn out were treated to a tidy Wizards victory fueled by everyone's two favorite Zards, Nick Young and Gilbert Arenas. Nick scored 20 on a number of pretty moves, but the highlight was when he shrugged his defender with a wicked crossover, hopped back for a 20 footer, and could only muster about 18 feet of shot. A glorious airball. Nick Young is a lot like Icarus, always flying too close to the sun. If ZA is the first major media outlet to make that comparison, all the better.

Gilbert also scored 20 and looked wonderful doing it. When he got hot in the third quarter a ripple of excitement ran through the crowd, as if they were witnessing a rumor turning out to be true. It's interesting that everyone involved with the Wizards, including Arenas himself, has embraced the narrative of Gilbert's new role as a complementary piece. But what if we're all wrong, and he's still Gilbert the star? Something to chew on as the season progresses.

As for Toronto, well, Andrea Bargnani is seven feet tall and got two rebounds in 28 minutes. I kept waiting for him and the Javalevator to realize they were staring at precisely the other half of their game and walk off arm in arm. Reggie Evans starts at power forward and averages two (2) points a game. Linas Kleiza comes off the bench whenever Coach Triano thinks there's a little too much passing going on. Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan team up to make running and jumping look really boring. The Raptors, they stink.

But who cares? We beat em! And with that, our record climbs to 3-6. Thanks for reading.

Nov 3, 2010

Cartier! For Three!

We won!

Before we talk about the game and join in singing the praises of John Wall, a moment for Cartier Martin, whose triple as time expired snatched overtime from the jaws of defeat. Cartier Martin went to Kansas State and graduated in 2007. In 2008, after spending a year in Turkey, he was drafted 15th overall. By the Iowa Energy of the NBA Developmental League (didn't know they had a draft? Me either!) Martin played eight games for the Wizards last season, earning an invitation to this year's training camp. But the organization remained uncertain about Martin right up to opening night. How uncertain? He's one of two Wizards who doesn't have a profile on the team page. Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Hamady Ndiaye - they all have profiles. Apparently, for Cartier Martin, they never found the time.

But it was Martin who ended up with the ball in his hands and his team down three in the dying moments of the game. It was Martin who had Andre Iguodala, 6 feet 6 inches of frightening athleticism, closing in to contest his shot. And it was Martin - the D-Leaguer, the 10-dayer, the nobody - who rose nonetheless, and found nothing but the bottom of the net. If Martin doesn't make it, if he's cut this season, if he never does anything else of note on a basketball court, that's still a hell of a memory.

The game itself was sloppy and fast and fun. ZA was there, twenty rows up, taking it all in (note to Wiz braintrust, record with ZA in attendance: 1-0, record without: 0-2. Get those season tickets in the mail!) The Wiz started slow, but it was clear from the outset they could hang with the Sixers. Initially Jrue Holliday thought he was John Wall, and scored 10 easy points in the first quarter, but that was straightened out as the game went along. Nick Young came in off the bench and went to that special place he goes a few times every season, burying jumper after jumper and trotting back downcourt with a grin a mile wide. Nick can be so good, on both sides of the ball. He must be an extraordinary pain in the ass for so many coaches to have kept him on the bench. I hope he gets more playing time. Watching him and John Wall run back down the court yapping and smiling after a bucket is good for the heart.

On the Sixers side, Evan Turner provided a pleasant reminder that Wall was the right pick. Turner hit some jumpers, grabbed some boards, and played solid D (although he got shook the first time he matched up with Wall, to the delight of the Verizon Center). He could be a nice player in a few seasons. But Wall was electric. As long as the Wiz aren't getting blown out, Wall will make them fun to watch. Any time the Wizards can jam things up on defense and get Wall the ball, he's off. One hard dribble and poof! Wall can't really shoot, and he's not great at running the set offense. He gambles on defense and sometimes gets lost. But in the open, at top speed, he's almost as good as anyone. That's the place where Wall can take on the rest of the league and win, and he knows it.

Other than Wall and Young, it's not clear how we scored 116 points. Andray Blatche is officially fat. That butt looked real big in those white shorts. The District fell in love with Yi over the summer ("Yiiiiiiiii" caterwauls everytime he touches the ball. Confusing) but he's not good at basketball. Hinrich is pretty annoying. Javale continues to prepare for the high jump in London in 2012. Al Thornton is TERRIBLE. So, we'll chalk this one up to Wall, Young, and a whole lot of smoke and mirrors. Oh, and the Philadelphia 76ers, they're not good either.

Hello merciless Wizmurd(erer)s of future championships!