#1 Fun Friday: 2000’s Wizards | MJ comes to town | Gilbert becomes a star | Uconn players come to DC!

#1 Fun Friday: 2000’s Wizards | MJ comes to town | Gilbert becomes a star | Uconn players come to DC!

Welcome to the first ever Fun Friday article. This week we will talk about the 2000’s Wizards and what they were like. This does not include the 2010’s since that was a different decade. This is about the Wizards from the 1999-2000 season to the 2008-2009 season. The Wizards became one of the best offensive teams in the NBA but didn’t capitalize on their opportunity to get an NBA championship. Despite that, it was a fun time to be a Wizards fan! I wasn’t alive for this era so I am excited to learn with you guys about the stories of MJ, Agent 0, Rip Hamilton and other all time great Wizards. We will talk about the highlights from this decade and the players that impacted it for Washington!

Richard Hamilton Comes to DC:

Richard Hamilton is known for his 3 All Star teams and championship with the Pistons. But he did have a good resume with the Washington Wizards. The Wizards were coming off mediocre seasons in 1980’s. The farthest they made it in the playoffs was the Eastern Conference Semi Finals in 1882. They had 5 straight 1st Round exits at one point. From the 1989-1996 season, the Bullets (Wizards) had not made the playoffs. It was a rough stretch for the Wizards who’s head coach was Wes Unseld (the original one) and he led the Wizards to 2 NBA finals and 1 NBA championship in ’78 and ’79 as a player! They made the playoffs for the first time in 1997 and Chris Webber was on that team. He made the All Star team this year and in just his 4th year in the league, he had averaged 20 points twice! But Webber left in ’98 (the year the Bullets became the Wizards). Juwan Howard was also on that Bullets team and had decent individual success. He averaged 22 points per game in his All Star season with them.

Coming just 2 years later was a guard from the University of Connecticut that ended up winning a March Madness tittle with Jim Calhoun and Uconn. He is one of the all time great Uconn basketball players. But he was drafted #7 overall by the Washington Wizards and his rookie season was the 1999-2000 season, the first season we will talk about. In his rookie season, he didn’t make All Rookie 1st or 2nd team, averaging 9.0 points while shooting 36% from 3. In his second season though, he averaged 18.1 points with 1 Steal. His 3rd season he broke out though averaging 20.0 points per game and shot 38% from 3. He somehow didn’t make the All Star game in either of these high quality scoring years. He ended up leaving Washington and joining the Pistons where he made 3 All Star games and won an NBA championship with them but it all started with Washington. In fact, Hamilton averaged 20.1 points, 19.8 points and 17.3 points in his All Star appearances and 2 of his 3 Wizards seasons, he averaged more points than those All Star years even though his Pistons years he was winning. He was great with Washington and is one of their all time great players but was not the only Uconn player that played for the Wizards at a high level! (Learn more later)

Jordan returns for the 2nd time…this time in the Nations Capital!

Michael Jordan is known for his Chicago Bulls days where he won 6 championships, 6 finals MVP’s, 5 MVP’s, made 12 All Star team and had a lot of other accomplishments with the Bulls. He obviously should be known for his Bulls days since that is the reason why he is the considered the greatest basketball player of all time…but neither should his Wizards days be forgotten! I hear people say his Wizards days in his career don’t count but he made 2 All Star games. Are we now going to say Nikola Vucevic’ 2019 and 2021 seasons where he made the All Star team don’t count? No! His days did count and he came at the right time. Washington was still a bad team even with Rip/Richard Hamilton playing well and they needed to get more ticket sales since they weren’t going to do it by how they were playing. They needed Michael Jordan to come back from retirement for the 2nd time in his career.

For Richard Hamilton’s last year with Washington which was the 2001-2002 season, Michael Jordan shocked the world and returned to one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Washington Wizards. Tickets sales exploded and now Washington was going to be one of the most watched teams in the NBA. They went 37-45 in 2002 and Michael Jordan averaged 22.9 points and despite shooting in-efficient from the field, 3 and free throw line, it was enough for him to make the All Star team for the 13th time in his career. The crazy thing is, he actually made the All Star game because he was playing like and All Star, not because his name was Michael Jordan! He was playing great in his late 30’s. The Wizards didn’t win though. No one expected Jordan to do what he did in Chicago anyway. In his 2nd season with the Wizards, they won 37 games again and Michael Jordan actually earned another All Star game appearance averaging 20.0 points per game. Him in Washington was cool for the fans but they needed real young players, future franchise cornerstones. And Michael joined the Wizards organization in a different way that ruined the future of the organization!

The draft…that didn’t work out!

In the 2001 NBA Draft, Kwame Brown was drafted #1 overall by the Washington Wizards out of High School. They thought it would work out since Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant who were drafted out of high school were working out but they would of had to wait 2 more years to get the generational talent of LeBron James out of high school. They didn’t and drafted Brown #1. He is known to be one of the biggest busts in NBA history. That 2002 Wizards team had Rip Hamilton, Michael Jordan and the #1 overall pick so you thought it would work. But it didn’t. Michael Jordan has always had an attitude of, I will push you around to make you better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t work with Kwame Brown! Jordan thought that mentality would work for Kwame but that was too much for a guy that hadn’t even went to college. Jordan eventually became part owner of the Wizards and continued to have this attitude toward Brown. I think that was the reason why his most points per game average was 10.9. Michael was trying to motivate Kwame but it didn’t work out. At least, that attitude was rumored. The Wizards messed up in this draft with Jordan as president of basketball operations. He and the Wizards could have taken Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Eddy Curry, Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas (who they ended up getting anyway)! Some of these players had Hall of Fame careers and all of them had good careers. Instead, the Wizards were left with Kwame and his 7.7 points per game in his 4 seasons with Washington!

The Big 3

The Washington Wizards best part of the 2000’s decade was by far this Big 3. They had Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. All of these players were great scorers. They are all all time great Wizards. This Big 3 was together from the 06-10 seasons and they played incredible. I saw a stat that in one of these years, they had one of the All time great scoring seasons for a Big 3 in NBA history!

Gilbert Arenas made 3 All Star games and made an All NBA team in all of those years. 2 of those 3 years were also with the entire Big 3. He averaged 25, 29 and 28 points per game for all 3 of those seasons. He is one of those players that didn’t have an all time great career but had a great peak. When people think of the Wizards, some people think of Arenas (Agent 0) since he was one of the best scorers in the NBA at times.

He fit perfectly with Uconn star Caron Butler who was also a great scorer. He made back to back All Star games in 2007 and 2008 averaging 20 points per game, the 2 best scoring numbers of his career. He was probably the best defensive player of the bunch as well. Jamison made both of his All Star games as well with Washington and was a great scorer. He averaged 20 points per game 3 times with the Wizards. He was a fun and energetic player. The 3 were athletic and were 3 of the best scorers put on a team in NBA history. They made the playoffs 4 times in this stretch, losing in the first round 3 times and in the Semi Finals once but that is still pretty successful. There are people that will hate on this team because they didn’t make it far in the playoffs and I don’t understand it. Appreciate the game. There will always be that team that is so fun to watch that doesn’t win a championship every year, that is how it works. The Wizards were like the Lob City Clippers but just a little worse. They were a fun Big 3 to watch but didn’t get the ring. The 2019 Ravens were also the most fun football team to watch in years but lost in the Divisional Round. We’re not going to say they are bad or don’t deserved to be talked about. You have to appreciate watching the game. They didn’t win because everyone played like a #1 option (even thought that was Arenas role so there was no guy that took a step back). But let’s still appreciate that team because that is what basketball is about. This was a fun team and one of the best Wizards teams on paper ever!

Fun Facts

Bryon Russell was huge rivals with Michael Jordan when he said he wouldn’t do well coming back from baseball and than when Jordan scored over him in 1998 Finals. After all of that, Russell ended playing in DC in Jordan’s final year in Washington while averaging 4.5 points per game!
Christian Laettner is known for his college career at Duke, his buzzer beater vs. Kentucky and him being on the dream team but he didn’t have an incredible NBA career. He did play though and played 3 seasons in Washington including playing with Michael again in his 2 years with Washington. He averaged 7, 8 and 5 points per game in these 3 years!

Happy Friday!

Hope you enjoyed!


Chase Coburn



Wiz Talk with Chase

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