40 years. It’s been 40 years since Washington D.C. has been home to a professional basketball championship. Back then, it was a team named the Bullets who were led by Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. Two of the most dominant big-men of any era, dominating a league that would be damn-near foreign to many of us today. Not only in who played, but how they played. That’s not in any way a bad thing, it’s just that things are drastically different from what they were 40 years ago.
Especially which team is the cities championship contender.
We’ve probably already become familiar with the fact that the Washington Wizards just played in what was perhaps the game of the year against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Monday night. The two teams played their absolute best and in doing so, gave the entire basketball viewing world quite the show. It was a phenomenal outing for John Wall especially, who has now garnered enough attention that a select few are even considering him as the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.
Wall is averaging a career-high 23 points per game and 10.4 assists per game, to go along with an astonishing 2.2 steals per game all while shooting .458% from the field. He’s crossed into the MVP category (not that he could realistically win it considering how wild this season has been), and he’s done so relatively quietly. The same applies for the Washington Wizards as a whole. They were dwelling near the bottom of the East until December, when things took a random turn toward legitimacy. Since then, the entire team has stepped-up their overall quality of play in order to become the team we see today. The team that we would all now love to watch match-up in a seven game series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It’s been the consistency from Bradley Beal that we’ve all been eager to watch since he first flashed his talents as a 20-year-old in this league. (It only took a little health.) It’s been the sudden emergence of Otto Porter Jr., who we’ve been patiently waiting to develop into the solid third option he now appears to be.
Much like 40 years ago, the Washington D.C. basketball team is reliant on the entire team and not just one man. However, the Wizards are still a ways away from calling themselves championship contenders. Whether it be a mid-season trade or a significant free agent signing this upcoming offseason, the Wizards aren’t quite there yet. But this article isn’t about the Wizards. It’s about the D.C. team which looks closer than ever at winning a championship.
I’m talking about the only WNBA that has never even played in a championship game, the Washington Mystics.
The team has been making waves recently, and every move they’ve made has had one goal in mind: winning the WNBA Championship. They started by agreeing on a sign-and-trade to acquire the 2015 MVP Elena Delle Donne in a deal with the Chicago Sky.
For the first time in a long time, Washington D.C. basketball has a bona-fide star. Not just a star, but an MVP. Someone who can legitimately lead the Mystics to the promised land, and it honestly doesn’t seem insane to think of them as favorites going forward. Especially after they just signed Kristi Toliver to compliment this team.
Moves like these are incredibly rare for a team that’s always been known as the team unwilling to take any steps toward greatness, much less the “next step.” But, that’s exactly what the Mystics are doing. They’re effectively skipping the “next step,” and are gunning straight for a championship. Well, they now have the means to accomplish just that.
They’re on the fast track to housing one of the top offenses in the sport, and their defense is unlikely to be flawed now that they’ve resigned Tierra Ruffin-Pratt.
In the end, the success of this team will begin and end with that of Elena Delle Donne. She’s the first mega-star that the city will be getting in a very long time, and she appears more than ready to lift the load of an entire city on her back. Hopefully that will also mean championships, but right now it will mean one thing for certain… we will be watching damn good basketball in our nation’s capitol. The only question should be whether or not John Wall and the Wizards can catch-up to the progress the Mystics just made in a single week. (crosses fingers in the hopes of trading for DeMarcus Cousins)