First Things First -- Dan Steinberg on the latest sports news

May 19, 2010

Post sports bogger Dan Steinberg discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports.

There are so many people to give credit to for the Wizards' shocking lottery win Tuesday night. Ted Leonsis, since every thing he touches turns to gold, at least before the playoffs start, and not counting the Olympics. Irene Pollin, for wearing her late husband's championship ring. The Wizards, for losing all of those games. Me, for one of the best reverse jinxes of all time.

But now that's all over, and the focus moves to the June draft, assuming the Wizards don't trade the pick to Minnesota. Strikes me there are three main questions here, even if they're largely rhetorical. Do you even consider taking Evan Turner over John Wall? How well does a Wall-Arenas backcourt function? And how quickly could the Great Wall of Chinatown become the Face of the Franchise? Since Tracee's on vacation, I'm supposed to help you work through this.


I am utterly convinced that your draft woes column unjinxed the team, thank you. Would you please plan the following columns?: - Redskins Subpar Postseason Performance Indicative of Future Performance - History predicts Nationals Collapse - 10 Reasons Why the Caps will Never Win the Cup

Hey, sometimes you have to make some sacrifices in life. In my case, I sacrificed looking like a fool and getting comments calling me an idiot in exchange for having an NBA team readers care about again.


I'll work on your other columns soon.

First off thank for the reverse jinx. I credit that as the single reason we got the 1st overall pick. Please repeat the next time the Wizards have a lottery choice. There are still several more bad years than good even with the No 1 pick this yr and then there's Kwame... 2nd, everyone seems to assume Wall is the number 1 pick. I kinda like Turner better a 6'7" ball handler who can shoot and drive to the basket. Both guys play defense, but Wall is a better set up man. I didn't catch a ton of UK games last year and the one i did recall was against WV where he wasn't particularly good. Who do you think the Wiz should take and who will they take? I'd like to see a comparision from Michael Lee.

Wow, I'm really getting some well-deserved credit here. Thanks.

The thing I don't understand is why so many people are saying "I think Evan Turner might turn out to be the better pro, but you have to take Wall." If Turner might turn out to be better, then why isn't this an open question, especially since the one spot that's theoretically filled is point guard with Arenas. (I guess Blatche's spot is also filled, whatever position he plays.)

Anyhow, it sure seems that the massive, overwhelming consensus is building around Wall. Read Wilbon's comments from Magic Johnson this morning. That was pretty powerful.

What ? Now they're making you get up early ???

With Tracee Hamilton on vacation for about a month, Barry Svrluga and I will apparently be rotating on these chats every other morning. This is convenient for me, since I already am working late at night, in the mid morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon.

And no, I don't expect you to feel sorry for me.

If Grunfeld picks Turner with this pick, I will go and hibernate. Wall is the electric point guard the Wizards need, right? Wouldn't it be good to play him and Arenas together, with Arenas more of a two guard in Saunders' two-guard offense?

That certainly seems to be the theory, and some of the stuff Flip Saunders was doing with Livingston at the end of this season (No, I don't really expect you were watching, and I hardly was either) seemed to set up a two-guard scenario like this.

It's not like the Wizards have anyone who fits the Evan Turner mold right now, either. And if the Wiz had gotten the No. 2 pick, I'm pretty sure lots of people would be salivating about Turner in that ungodly blue next year.

Also, what does hibernate mean in this context?

As I contemplated our future point guard, I was struck by the realization that his first name, John, once the most popular men's name, has become almost extinct lately in the NBA. So I obsessively searched all the teams and found only ONE John currently in the league- John Salmons of the Bucks. Not earth-shaking, but kinda cool, I thought.... And by the way, I have faith that you will be an adequate stand-in for our Tracee.

I'm not sur what's more bizarre, that you thought to do this or that there's only one John in the NBA. How about Jon?

Also, the Great Wall of Chinatown is funny, if nothing else. Credit to the 72 people who simultaneously thought of that last night.

Maybe the Wizards could trade the pick for Kwame Brown?

Poor Kwame. His name will be mentioned and disparaged so many times over the next few weeks. A lot of what happened was his fault, but a huge portion wasn't. I'm not sure that he deserves another round of scorn just because the Wizards got lucky. But ESPN was already showing footage of him on stage with David Stern this am.

Since Wall is just a younger Gilbert, can Ted trade the #1 pick for a real second line center and a rugged D-man?

Here's a better question: the east side of the Verizon Center has traditionally been home to banners touting the Wiz's biggest star. Now that Ted has control of the building, what banner goes there? Wall? Ovechkin? No. 1 picks together? Gotta be the latter, right? Make that happen.

The first conversation between those two is going to be epic.

Ovechkin, Zimmerman, Strasburg, possibly Bryce Harper and John Wall - is it possible that DC will be the hottest sports town for the next 5-7 years?

Oh, wait we forgot one team - The Over the Hill Gang Part 2. This could be interesting.

Yeah, but 33 in quarterback years isn't horribly old. If McNabb actually re-ups here and stays healthy, this could be a really special few years. Yes, I'm sort of buying the McNabb stuff.

I'm not sure this would make us the hottest sports town -- Wall will be exciting but just turning the Wizards into a playoff team would be a major, major accomplishment. And the Nats are more about getting competitive than actually contending. Compare us to, say, Boston, where all four teams are annual threats to win actual titles.

But for young starpower, this could be fun.

I'm at work definitely still drunk from celebrating last night. Just sayin'.

I finished an entire bag of sunflower seeds while I was scanning the Internet for Wall stuff last night. Same basic idea.

You really like Adrian Wojonarksi all seems to do is rip people in his columns in like 2 years he will turn on John Wall

Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo is unquestionably one of the best NBA writers in the country.

I do agree that he's seemed awfully, awfully negative toward the Wiz in the last few months.

But I was here one of the first times he had an extended conversation with Arenas, and he really liked him. Found him funny, refreshing, honest, etc. I think he has NBA people telling him that the Wiz coddled him too much and let him undermine this season, and he's not afraid to write what he thinks.

We needed Buckhantz on the TV coverage last night: NO!!!! NOT POSSIBLE!!!!

Would love to hear from Buckhantz today. In fact, that's a great idea. I'll call him when I'm done here.

Am I still drunk from last night, or did the LeBron to D.C. move just become a wee bit more logical?

Haha, a lot of people have said this, because of the excitement of playing with a top PG, LeBron's oft-expressed affinity for Wall, perhaps his ties to Leonsis (writing a blurb for his book), etc. It seems fantastical to me. If he wants international stardom, he could go to New York. If he wants NBA tradition and a chance to win a title next year, he could go to Chicago. If he wants unbridled adulation, he could stay at home. And D.C. offers, what, Fun Street, Le Boulez, and the knowledge that he'll still be second-fiddle to the Redskins?

Allow me a moment of pessimism, please. With the lottery win yesterday the Wizards will deliver the 4th #1 overall draft pick to the DC area since 2004. Two of those picks will be made next month. Yet since none of the four are Redskins, the benefiting teams will still be largely ignored the first time that Donovan McNabb gets a hangnail. Is there anyway this surge of top notch talent into non-Skins teams can shake up this town's football-first mentality?

As many have said, it takes titles. Yes, we could be looking at Harper, Wall, Strasburg and Ovechkin by next year, but the Nats have never had a winning season, Ovechkin has won one playoff series, and the Grunfeld Wizards have done the same. Just having big names and exciting talent isn't enough to dethrone a team that won three Super Bowls in many of our lifetimes.

Also, there's enough attention for everyone. Whether an Ovechkin story is leading the local news or on A1 of the paper or not, the Caps are not hurting for media attention anymore.

Can you foresee any scenario where Wizards draft anyone other than John Wall? I have heard whispers about Cousins or Turner, but are we talking like 95% chance its Wall, 5% its someone else or a trade down? Thanks, and its great having a happy Wizards day!

Well, Ernie Grunfeld is one of the tight-lippiest of people out there. If there are early indications, I'd check in with Michael Lee for that. I haven't heard a single person suggest Cousins go No. 1, whether in whisper or full voice. There seemed to be more Turner talk back in March, and by this month, everyone's been treating Wall as a done deal. I mean, ESPN had its cameras trained on Wall seconds after the Wizards' name was announced. 95 percent sounds fine to me.

Dan - I'm glad you were wrong about the Wizards lottery prospects yesterday but I'm also glad you avoided your own advice and actuallty tuned in! Now the question: if you take Wall who plays point for this rebuilding team? How will this impact other possible free agent signings for the Wiz - or trades (Gil?) for that matter? Thanks.

Woj thinks this will do nothing to stop the Wizards from attempting to rid themselves of Arenas. But Arenas has never been a real point guard, despite one assurance after another that that's what he is and what he wants to be. Gilbert scores the ball. Whatever label you want to put on him, his greatest attribute is putting ball into basket. Wall seems to be a guy who enjoys passing, but can do more -- Rondo is getting so much love for what he's doing in these playoffs, but one of the real revelations is that he's maybe one of the top three or four passers in the game. You can be a star by doing that.

As for the impact on free agent signings, I've always believed that for the vast majority of players, the money and playing time questions are more important than culture questions. Not for the very few elite guys or the veterans obsessed with winning, but I never really believed the stuff last year about how the Gilbert situation would chase free agents away. even if there was any truth to that, you'd think it would have to be gone now. Wall already has a major name and reputation, and free agents don't run away from exciting point guards.

If the Wizards pick John Wall what does that mean for Shaun Livingston?

We don't know how major a part of their plans he was before that. He was always extremely non-committal when asked about the future. A lot of fans were hoping he'd stay, and I don't imagine that'll change, but Livingston is going to want to play. Like I said, I never got the vibe that he was committed to coming back here.

So, you're rotating with Barry 'I'd like to buy a vowel' Svrluga ?

Barry's last name gets a bad rap. There are two vowels out of seven letters. Wilbon has two out of six. Hamilton has three out of eight. Heck, John Wall has two vowels out of the eight letters in his name. We can't all be like Michael Lee.

With Tracee away, will you be answering cat questions as well?

Nope. Toddler questions. Mine is three. Bring 'em on.

Ok -- let's assume the Wiz take John Wall, and we have Gilbert -- who else will the Wizards be looking to acquire through other picks, trades or free agency -- definitely need some help inside with big men!

I like the Chris Bosh fantasy. Dude is hilarious, and plays basketball very well.

It looks like the readers that charged that the NBA fixes the draft lottery in your column yesterday had an effect on the commisioner. It looks like he reads the D.C. Sports Bog. It worked.

Wait, so he reverse fixed?

Barno, one of the loudest commenters on all the Post's sports blog, has this theory that Stern always fixes the lottery, and that he overreacted to the Arenas situation, and realized that after Arenas got no jail time, and felt bad for the franchise in disarray and the death of Pollin, and so he set Leonsis up for the future.

Me, I'm not into conspiracies. I also believe that campaign donations never have any impact on American democracy.

With the return of Gilbert Arenas and by potentially drafting John Wall, how long will it take (realistically) for the Wizards to contend for the NBA championship?

Sorry, can't help but laugh.

I'm asking this because I really can't think of the answer off the top of my head, but what was the last team to win an NBA title whose best TWO players were smallish guards? I can't think of a ton of them.

What I'd hope for is a return to annual playoff contention. The atmosphere in Verizon Center in 2005 was terrific. Not Rock the Red terrific, but terrific nonetheless. Last year's empty, dead building was really depressing. Let them get back to contending for playoff spots, and then let's talk titles later. I still think the other three teams in town would be closer to winning a title than the Wiz.

Steinberg: Yeah, I'm a soccer guy, so I don't really have anything to add right now, but I do want to say congrats for the big wet kiss you got on the B.S. Report this week. Simmons bump?

Why in the world did you listen to a Jay Bilas/House podcast if you're a soccer guy? Not a lot of soccer talk in that one.

But thanks. I've never met this House fellow, but he's a big D.C. sports fan and should probably be featured here somehow.

No mention of the DCU reserve team beating some random team on Monday? C'mon, it was most of our starters against some guys, could have been a pick up league or high school team. I never heard of them. Anyhoo, United barely beat these amateurs. They got 1 goal. I think Ovi and Backs should jump in, they have better footy skills than United this year.

Hey, I followed along the results of that match via the D.C. United Twitter feed. Does that count?

I love the pick of Mrs Pollin looking suprised when she realized the Bullets won the lottery, but can we get a pick of John Wall when he realized it was the Bullets? He did not seem pleased.

Completely agree. His quotes were fine and dandy, but he was barely even smiling. Like, it was more like grimacing. No idea where he was hoping to go, but if he was smiling on the inside, he did a great job of hiding it.

Dan, with the Caps really disappointing fans with their first-round exit, and the Bullets (I will never call them the Wizards) getting this fantastic stroke of luck, do you think whatever momentum was left from the Caps' season is now even smaller, or is there room for two? I am a fan of both teams and I hope it doesn't become an either/or situation.

I don't see it as an either-or. Of course, there is some either-or with the TV broadcasts when both teams are on at the same time, and it's certainly possible that a moderately competitive team led by an exciting No. 1 overall pick could help the Wizards regain their spot ahead of the Caps in TV ratings. But that's more of a pride thing than anything. The Caps will still sell out their games, and as long as they're competing for top seeds (and backing it up in the playoffs), people here will care.

My office faces the Verizon Center. In the past year, the following people have (dis)graced that wall: Gilbert (came down because of finger guns and Blatche's shoes) Antawn, Caron, Brenda (came down because they got traded - later flamed out in playoffs) Ovie (gut wrenching upset in playoffs) That wall is bad luck! Also, how soon until the Wiz are rocking the red?

Ted Leonsis has resisted my pleas to address the uniform situation. I'm sure he will, in some fashion, pretty soon. He's a very savvy guy, and he reads everything, and he knows that people are talking about this. Whether that means a change, I have no idea.

Say what you want about Jamison/Butler/Haywood/Ovechkin, but none of them disgraced the wall. They just didn't happen to win this year.

Is your 3 year old potty trained yet? My 3 year old seems totally uninterested. Do you have a potty training technique to help me get this child out of diapers?

Sweet, a toddler question.

My daughter goes to a pretty full-time preschool, and around the time of her third birthday virtually all the kids started shedding diapers. They had done some toilet training earlier, but it really kicked in then, and peer pressure ruled the day. She still wears a diaper to sleep at night, but we're golden during the day. Not golden in that way.

At home, we did things like offer treats for success (M & Ms) and got sit on the toilet even when she said she didn't have to go. Her teachers would take them to the potty as a group like every 30 minutes. Some other parents in our class offered a puzzle piece after every success, so to complete the puzzle, their son had to keep going.

But peer pressure was the best influence.

I've got twin two-year-olds, tell me three is easier. Please. On a side note, how old will my kids be when they enjoy their first DC pro sports championship? I'll set the over/under at 7.

My daughter has no interest in watching sports on TV with me, but she recognizes them and knows I like them. We saw some kids playing little league the other day, and she said "Look dada, your favorite show"

I would say yeah, three is easier. She's more stubborn now, but she's also more of a person, so we can have real conversations and she can understand real concepts. It's been tons of fun.

I think the Caps will win a Stanley Cup within the next five years.

And at the bottom of the page, it calls you Post Sports Bogger. Come on, this kind of sloppiness drives me nuts.

The name of my blog is the D.C. Sports Bog. Bog, no L. Bog. It's been that way for three-plus years. There's an explanation at the top of my Bog. Bog, no L.

The Greg-era Wiggles were better than the Sam-era group, with more originals and fewer covers. Your thoughts?

Our Wiggles stage was very brief, and the only one's name I ever learned was Murray. Oh, and Anthony. We're much more into Max and Ruby right now.

I'm noticing a very different crowd goes to Tracee's chats than my chats. I'm also noticing that I'm never going to get any work done if I do 90-minute chats four times a week. Gotta run. Tune in tomorrow for Svrluga. Please ask him about the Nats. It makes him happy.

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Dan Steinberg
Washington Post staff writer and D.C. Sports Bogger.

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