Friday, May 16, 2014

5/16 Happy Birthday Gabe Quickie

*Happy 8th birthday, Gabe. It nearly gives me vertigo to consider how much has happened since May 16, 2006.

*Gabe was thrilled that his favorite NBA team -- the Thunder -- delivered him a post-midnight birthday present of a close-out in the Western conference semis over the Clippers.

*Between LeBron and Durant, it sure looks like Chris Paul is destined to be this generation's Barkley-Ewing-Stockton-Malone superstar who never wins a ring. Happy to be proven wrong, but....

*Miami is going to throttle Indiana. San Antonio is going to throttle OKC. The Playoffs are so much fun, but the end-pairing has been predictable since November. The Finals result, on the other hand....

*Predictions for my Wiz in their offseason: Grunfeld stays (obviously). Wittman extended (I appreciate his work this postseason, but I respectfully disagree). Gortat re-signs. They try to re-sign Ariza, but he gets a more lucrative offer elsewhere -- he is a great piece for a would-be contender. The upside of that is that they invested so much in the Otto Porter pick, gotta let him play next year. The team is in the mix early for Greg Monroe, but he goes elsewhere.

*If you like media wonkery, the leaked NY Times innovation memo is fascinating -- Nieman Lab did a great job of digesting it for you.

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

5/15 Wizards Denouement Quickie

You have to understand that long before Florida and before Northwestern, I was a Bullets/Wizards fan -- it is my oldest and longest-standing fan allegiance, going back roughly 30 years.

For almost all of those 30 years, the team has been somewhere between mediocre and terrible. There were brief glints in '87/88 and '97. Up until this season, my three favorite Wizards moments didn't even come on the court -- it was the day of the trade for Chris Webber, the night we won the NBA Lottery to secure us John Wall and the moment the Bobcats passed on Bradley Beal, ensuring he'd come to DC. (I enjoyed the Arenas years a lot -- who didn't? -- but can't help but remember them as tarnished for the way it all ended.)

Three years ago, when I relocated back to DC, I became even more engaged with the team -- I watched a lot (a LOT) of Wizards games, most of them in the range of atrocious. Slowly, we got rid of the knuckleheads. We got Nene. We got Beal. We got Gortat.

This season, I would say that I watched all (and certainly part) of at least 75 or more of the 82-game regular season, subjecting Mrs. Quickie to Wizards basketball throughout the winter.

Like the rest of the fan base, I was rewarded with a pretty good season! And pretty good is pretty great, when you consider that almost all of the previous 30 years were pretty lousy.

Then this playoff run started, and we dispatched the Bulls, which was as thrilling of an on-court result as I have ever experienced. The city cared about the team again, in a way it hadn't in a long time. Is this what it is like in the cities with perennially good NBA teams?

You cannot underestimate the idea of feeling relevant -- of feeling ANYTHING positive about this team, even feeling frustration over bad plays or losses. Because those bad plays and losses were happening in the playoffs, not in December against the Bucks en route to a 20-win season.

Then we beat the Pacers in Game 1. Then we lost three straight, and I figured it was all over -- good job, good effort. Then, in Game 5, we destroyed them -- a new "favorite moment" for me. It re-sparked that, yes, this team was good enough to beat the Pacers in a 7-game series.

My feeling going into Game 6 tonight was "We SHOULD win. We probably won't. But we SHOULD." I can't tell you how amazing -- exotic, really -- that feeling is for a Wizards fan.

And guess what: They should have won this game. They should have. They should have taken this to Game 7 on Sunday and, then, won the damn series.

I can simultaneously be disappointed about tonight -- to have that many miscues and still be in a position to win is inexcusable for a team that is as good as this one -- but so satisfied about getting this far and putting up this much of a fight.

That I finally get to feel that mixture of elation and disappointment -- what so many other teams' fans take for granted -- is a newly minted priceless sports memory for me.

I hope for nothing but this being the start of sustained success where I begin to EXPECT success, rather than merely appreciate it as a novelty. Despite having the best young backcourt in the league, I actually worry -- like any good lifelong Bullets/Wizards fan -- that we will look back in 10 years and this will end up turning out to be "peak Wiz."

But I'll always remember this team and this run for the new emotions it allowed me to feel.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

5/14 Wizards Thunder Quickie

*The Wiz fan in me must overlook the insane ending to the Thunder-Clippers game to note that was the best effort -- at the most critical moment -- I have ever seen the team offer.

*I don't know if the Wiz can win Game 6 back in DC -- if they play like they did last night, they clearly can -- but if this was it, it's nice to feel like they put it all together when it mattered most.

*OK, so back to Thunder-Clippers, round 5: Terrible choices by the Clippers, terrible calls by the refs, but a hell of a comeback by OKC in the final 4 minutes/1 minute.

*Henrik Lundqvist: There are a handful of athletes we can all feel like "Watching them in their prime is Peak Fandom, even if you don't care about their team." That's him in Game 7s.

*Last word to Doc Rivers: "We were robbed." But also: "We did a lot ourselves to not win the game."

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5/13 Wiz-blivion Quickie

*The most remarkable thing about Donald Sterling's interview last night is that the universal presumption was that he couldn't get more loathsome than two weeks ago -- and yet!

*I obviously want the Wizards to win tonight to retain the glimmer of hope they can win the series, but -- at the very least -- I want an extra game in this atypically satisfying season.

*LeBron's career-playoff-high-tying 49 was closer to typical -- and I kind of loved that he seemed so annoyed afterwards. That he didn't get 50, because of that missed FT at the end? Good for him.

*The injury to Marlins ace Jose Fernandez is the most depressing bit of sports-injury news of 2014, whether you like the Marlins or baseball or not.

-- D.S.