Lately, being a fan of the Washington Wizards means cheering for draft position. While upper echelon teams jockey for prime playoff position, fans of the Wizards wonder how their team is going to mess up another off season. No big name free agents wanting to come play in this particular major city should cause a real serious issue with ownership but every summer is like the last. In order to figure out what is wrong with this organization you have to trace it back to previous owner Abe Pollin and the years after the teams only championship in 1978.
Mr. Pollin genuinely loved his players. He loved no player more than Wes Unseld. Unseld was the major catalyst in providing Pollin with his one and only Larry O’Brien trophy. Pollin in turn allowed Unseld to move into the front office after his playing days were over believing since he had what it took to play at a high level, he could manage at a high level. The loyalty he had for Unseld was unquestioned. As Unseld went from front office to head coach back to front office, Pollin allowed every move even though the results were mediocre.
Later in his years, Pollin got a taste for winning after the team made a couple of bold trades and signed Gilbert Arenas to a free agent contract. The team consisting of Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler made it to the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since the late 70′s. When Arenas’ deal was up it coincided with an unfortunate ACL injury. Before the injury, Arenas was a max deal player. No way he should have received a 100 million dollar contract with the uncertainty of his injury but Pollin loved him and wanted to make sure he didn’t take his talents elsewhere after the little bit of success they had together. His loyalty to Arenas, the person, clouded his better business judgement and once again the franchise he so loved was set back for years.
S0metimes loyalty can blind you. The affection you have for a certain person can end up being to the detriment of your well being, in this case the team Mr. Pollin owned. If Mr. Pollin had stepped back for a moment and set his personal feelings for Unseld and later Arenas aside, the franchise would be in a much better position instead of the bottom of the pile. Loyalty can either lead you to the promised land or the bottom of the heap, it’s a thin line.