On paper, it wasn't exactly an inspiring matchup, the 22-loss Washington Wizards against the 23-loss Cleveland Cavaliers. The two Eastern Conference cellar dwellers squared off at Verizon Center on Wednesday night, and the Wizards trotted out their 11th starting lineup of the season.
When his phone rang late Saturday night, Shelvin Mack had no idea it would be from the team that let him go just before training camp, the Washington Wizards.
John Wall stood at the far end of the court as the Washington Wizards finished up the morning practice session on their final day at George Mason. With his feet firmly planted on the court, Wall put up shot after shot while a member of the team's training staff rebounded the ball for him.
Chris Singleton was his own worst critic after the Washington Wizards finished 20-46 last season. The lockout-shortened campaign deprived rookies Singleton, Jan Vesely and Shelvin Mack of a normal training camp and the opportunity to play a regular 82-game schedule.
After a rookie year with essentially no offseason to get adjusted to the professional game, Shelvin Mack is entering his second season with the Washington Wizards. He played in 64 of the 66 games last season, but now he is getting feedback from his coaches that was absent during 2011's NBA lockout.
John Wall knows all about pressure. Last season's No. 1 pick, Wall became the face of the Washington Wizards before his first day in uniform. In his second season, he found himself in the role of mentor to another rookie point guard, former Butler star Shelvin Mack.
A framed photo of the Larry O'Brien Trophy hangs in John Wall's locker. It was left there by its previous occupant, Antawn Jamison. The Wizards are a long way from being championship contenders, but Wall said he never considered taking the picture down.
The Wizards were at a distinct disadvantage Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic, playing not only the five opponents in white pinstriped jerseys, but the officials as well. The Magic went to the line 39 times to the Wizards' nine and still managed to keep the game close, losing 109-103 at Amway Center.
Some fans look at the Washington Wizards and see a glass that's half full. Other fans look at the team and see a bare table, no glass at all.