I might have had a different response had this news dropped between the year 2005 and October 27, 2009 which was the last time I was hopeful about the Wizards as a playoff caliber team. Man did they look good that day. Teamwork, ball movement, defense, scoring depth, consistency and, most importantly, a dominant Alpha Dog: Agent Zero looked like he was back!
In the modern NBA, if you don't have that, you have nothing. I've painstakingly constructed this Rico Fantastic-style chart* of NBA squads over the last 20 years who have won it all without a top-5 player:
*Chart not scientific.
I thought Gilbert could be that top-5 guy the Wizards never had. Due to some freakish psychosis, Gil has always been at his best when he is pissed, which he's found reason to be throughout his career. He was knocking on that top-5 door before his injury; I was certain as of October that he would emerge from his latest bout of adversity ready to knock that door down for good. I took his media silence to mean quiet determination.
He seemed pissed at the world, didn't he? Am I alone on this? I was ready to witness (pardon the term) his final leap from shoot-first All-Star to transcendent team player: the guy who made everyone around him better, unafraid to put away the slow-bleeders with a 3-point dagger, game winning steal, or to sink those 4th quarter foul shots courtesy of the NBA's star-treatment system. If for no other reason than to show us wrong.
The days when hope reigned. *sigh*
That same freakish psychosis I hoped would mature him into the best instead manifested itself as immaturity that has made him, frankly, the worst. The worst teammate, the worst defensive player in the league, the worst franchise player in a league riddled with terrible ones, and now the worst contract. Instead of taking advantage of the deepest roster and best coach he has ever had, he let his weakest of his teammates bring out his dark side. Even before the guns it was clear this season that I'd be wrong. The gun incident confirmed it; this suspension is just another drop in the bucket.
Without that hope, I can't bring myself to care about the Wizards anymore. It's the nature of the NBA. Any other sport there is always hope for next year. Without LeBron or Kobe or Wade or Duncan there is none in basketball. With the Caps currently bludgeoning the league into submission, I've got enough to occupy my fan energy, anyways. I'm drooling like a Pavlovian dog at the latest Redskins off-season hire previous negativity notwithstanding. I'm busy. So someone wake me when the Wizards luck into the next NBA Superstar. Until then...yawn.