- - Thursday, June 30, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION

The Washington Wizards will host their 2016 Summerfest on Wednesday at the Verizon Center. They’ll be autographs, face painters, Polynesian dance performers and glitter tattoos — not that any of you Wizards fans deserve it.

New head coach Scott Brooks will be there, as well as Wizards forward Markieff Morris — providing he can get through airport security. Hopefully they will be able to hide their disdain for Wizards fans better than the so-called star and leader of the team, the elite John Wall.

Kevin Durant won’t be there, and Wall wants you Wizards fans to know that it may be your fault.

“A lot of people will be devastated. But at the end of the day he never promised us anything,” Wall told CSNmidatlantic.com last week during the final day of his camp at Fairfax High School, when asked about reports that Durant isn’t even considering Washington as a destination as a free agent. “Every day, everybody said KD-to-DC, coming to our games wearing all the Kevin Durant stuff. He didn’t like it at that time because you should cheer for the team that you got. That might sway him.”

That might sway him. Really.

It’s not the fault of the franchise that hasn’t made it past the second round of the NBA playoffs in nearly four decades. It’s not the fault of an organization that has let the Magic and Larry era, the Michael era, the Kobe era and now probably the LeBron era come and go without giving their fans much reason, if any, to buy tickets, show up and cheer for a team that, for decades, marketed itself based on those opposing stars coming to town. It’s not the fault of the team that has continued to employ a general manager for 13 seasons with an overall record of 444-606.

No, Wizards fans. It’s your fault Kevin Durant doesn’t want to be a Washington Wizard.

What nerve! How clueless are you when your go-to reason for Durant not reportedly considering the Wizards is because of the fans? It is insulting, particularly to a fan base that Wall, general manager Ernie Grunfeld and owner Ted Leonsis should get on their hands and knees every day and thank each and every person who buys a very expensive ticket to watch a team that considers 44-, 46- and 41-win seasons as some sort of validation of accomplishment.

This franchise hasn’t won 50 games since 1979. But they think they’ve done something.

Fans of this franchise have walked through the desert of NBA despair for nearly 40 years. Over the last 38 years, this franchise has had 10 winning seasons. And you’re going to suggest they are to blame for Durant not coming to Washington because he was offended by the way they cheered for him when he came to town with the Oklahoma City Thunder?

I get that Wall was citing what Durant told reporters in November when he talked about his stop in the District. “It was cool to see all my family there but if our team did that to somebody coming into our arena, I wouldn’t like it. I didn’t really like it,” Durant said. “We’re playing a really good team in the Wizards, a great team. Great young talents. Good coach. I think that was disrespectful so I didn’t like it.”

That good coach, Randy Wittman? Fired. Whose fault was that? Do you think the coaching situation may sway Durant a little more than the fans? You hired his former coach who Durant supposedly loves, and still he won’t come here because the fans insulted Wall and Bradley Beal?

For this to be the first words out of Wall’s mouth about Durant becoming a Wizard shows the resentment that the Wizards star carries for the team’s own fans – the same resentment that soon-to-be Mr. 55-game-per-season max-deal Beal revealed last November when he told reporters about the cheers for Durant at the Verizon Center, “It is disrespectful because he plays for Oklahoma City. He doesn’t play for Washington.”

No, he doesn’t. And, according to the Wizards star and team leader, the reason he may not play for Washington may be the fans.

It seems like on other teams, the superstar leader is the one selling Durant – see Carmelo Anthony in New York. If Wall is the star that he believes he is, why can’t he sell Durant on coming to play for the Wizards? That’s what elite players do now in the NBA.

I guess he just can’t overcome the burden of this embarrassing fan base.

All this said, the Durant sweepstakes aren’t over until Kevin Durant says it is over. Many of these reports about meetings and interests are speculation based on second- and third-party sources. It is difficult to believe that Wizards owner Ted Leonsis – a master salesman who convinced Michael Jordan to come to Washington – hasn’t been working behind the scenes for several years now, laying the groundwork for a massive sales pitch to Durant.

It is difficult to believe that after six years as owner of this basketball team, all Ted Leonsis will have to show for it is Wall, Beal, and a cast of spare parts that will assure another 40-plus win season of accomplishment.

Then again, there is that burden of the Wizards fans, who should feel fortunate that the team is still willing to offer ukulele musicians and sand art stations at the team’s Summerfest Wednesday. You haven’t done much to deserve it.

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