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HARRIS: Wizards overdue to break Curse of the Mailman
I have a theory. It runs counter to pretty much everything I believe in, as I'm not much for jinxes and curses and spells.
If there's a no-hitter going on, it really is OK to talk about the no-hitter. Opening an umbrella indoors may be foolish. It isn't going to cause you any bad luck. I've even broken a mirror, though that one may be true. It would explain a lot.
This particular theory I believe from the bottom of my heart. You will never convince me it isn't true. There's too much evidence.
I believe the Wizards are cursed.
Call it the Curse of the Mailman. It covers the Bullets and Wizards after the name was changed in 1997.
In 1985, Washington had the 12th pick in the draft. A kid out of Louisiana Tech was drawing a lot of attention. His name was Karl Malone, soon to become Karl "the Mailman" Malone. He was seen as a perfect fit for the Bullets.
So their turn came and the Bullets stepped up — and drafted Kenny Green out of Wake Forest.
There's no truth to the rumor that three Utah Jazz executives injured themselves by tripping over each other in their haste to take Malone with the 13th pick.
Kenny Green played 60 games in the NBA. He averaged 4.4 points.
Karl Malone played 1,476 games. He averaged 25 points. The Mailman went into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Green isn't even in Wake Forest's Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Mailman. He should have been a Bullet-Wizard. Wherever they decide basketball fortunes, the call was made: We gave you a chance and you took Kenny Green. Never again.
Too much has happened to think it isn't real.
Chris Webber was traded to Washington and was injured the same week. He had several instances of shoulder trouble. In 1991, the team took LaBradford Smith out of Louisville with the 19th pick. It was seen as a great get for that spot in the draft. Except Smith badly injured an ankle and never played a full season. He averaged only 6.7 points over an 183-game career. Two years after drafting Smith, the club lost Calbert Cheaney, Rex Chapman and Pervis Ellison for parts of the season.
We could go on.
Bad drafting and bad drafting luck?
If there were three franchise-changer-type players available, it always seemed the team would end up picking just below that. Someone would else would get a Shaq. The Bullets would get a Cheaney. That type of thing. John Williams was a solid pick in 1986 at No. 12 and he had a good, not great career. His nickname was "Hot Plate," which tells you something.
One year, the Wizards did get the No. 1 overall pick. And took Kwame Brown. He was a complete bust, though he's still hanging around the league despite a career 6.6 scoring average. Pau Gasol (18.4 career average), by the way, went two picks later.
We could go on.
I've written this in various forms before, each time thinking it had to end at some point. Maybe when the Mailman finally retired. Or someone else got put in charge of basketball fortunes.
Malone hasn't played since 2004, when he spent his only season with the Lakers. Around here, the weird and unfortunate keeps happening.
The Wizards appeared to be turning the corner with a solid nucleus and a charismatic guard named Gilbert Arenas. Then the gun-in-the-locker-room thing happened and Washington was back to plotting another fresh start.
It got the No. 1 pick again, in 2010, and made what looks like a terrific call with John Wall. The team later drafted Bradley Beal, giving the Wizards a young, exciting and extremely good backcourt. This year, Washington took Otto Porter Jr. with the third overall pick. That's a young, promising trio complemented by solid vets like Nene and Emeka Okafor inside. Washington added a great bench piece (and a personal favorite) in Eric Maynor.
No one expects the Wizards to unseat the Heat this season, but making the playoffs is a very reasonable expectation.
Except Porter has been hurt and Okafor is hurt. Nene is not, though he is hurt a lot. At what point will the Wizards have the roster they expected and ready to play? Will it ever happen?
It would be nice if so, because the Wizards have put together a group that should be able to put recent doldrums (117-277 the past five seasons) in the rear view. Washington has only been beyond the first round of the playoffs once since 1982 and has missed them entirely 20 times in that span.
The curse needs to consider its job done. And complete. It needs to go away.
But do they ever just go away?
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About the Author
Washington Times sports editor Mike Harris has more than 30 years experience in the business as a reporter, columnist and manager. He’s covered a wide variety of events including two Olympics, horse racing, auto racing, professional and college sports. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the section on Twitter @WashTimesSports.
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