Why Washington traded Webber, made Juwan the 1st $100mil man, pissed off Rasheed’s mom & destroyed the Bullets?
In honor of Rasheed Wallace’s birthday I think every ref doing a game today should give out atleast one tech even if a player doesn’t deserve it.
Now, i’m sure a lot of hoop sites are wishing the moody and very talented Tarheel with a funky spot on top of his head a birthday wish and then showing the same ole higlights highlighted with crazy behavior that has defined his career. I didn’t care for that Rasheed so i’m going back to the Rasheed that was 1/3 of what I called The Big 3 in the mid 90s.
Before Wizards owner Abe Pollin made the silly decision to change the name of the Washington Bullets to the Wizards (other options were Sea Dogs, Generals and Stallions) due to the loss of a friend and the violence in DC, he and Wes Unseld made some even crazier decisions than changing a team name to a KKK ranking.
In 1993 the Bullets were able to get Chris Webber from the Bullets for 3rd year forward Tom Gugliotta and 3 future draft picks. Abe Pollin said “The opportunity available to improve the team came about and we took it.” I agreed 100% with Abe on this one. On that same day, the Bullets signed their rookie Juwan Howard who was also an ex Wolverine teammate of Webber. With 2/3 of the Big 3 from the Fab 5 things were looking very promising for the Bullets even if they did draft overrated Calbert Cheaney 6th overall from Webber’s draft pool.
Well the new look Bullets were exciting to watch with Webber and Howard leading the way but the team was horrible with the 3rd worst defense in the league. Despite not playing any D and finishing with a 21-61 record, fans loved them as evident by this “You Da Man” video for the 94/95 Bullets.
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The positive of having so many losses is it resulted in a lot of balls to get a high draft pick in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory that included Joe Smith, McDyess who finished his NCAA career on a tear, the UNC duo of Stack and Sheed, Ed O’Bannon, Big Country and a kid named Keven Garnett who was the most dominant high school player since Shaq and will probably become the first high school player to be drafted out of HS since Moses Malone. The Bullets could have had KG with the #5 pick but they made the wise safe decision of going with the unstoppable TarHeel Rasheed Wallace.
Wallace would be joining the scary front line of Webber, Howard and big Gheorghe Muresan. Unfortunately Webber would only play 15 games that season due to injuries and after a strong start, Rasheed’s minutes would drop and became inconsistent. When he played he produced but PT was an issue even if the team was still struggling and finished the season under .500. The one highlight on Rasheed’s rookie season might be playing in the NBA All-Rookie game back when it was just one rookie class.
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The next summer would turn out to be a disaster for the future of the franchise. First they lose to Juwan Howard to the Miami Heat who also signed Gary Payton to team up with Alonzo Mourning. The NBA stepped in and yelled salary cap foul and prevented the signings which gave the Bullets a chance to keep Juwan. What they ended up doing was giving Howard and super agent David Falk the first 100 million contract. The 12 year $105 million crushed the still too much 7 year $98 mil deal the Heat offered.
They then pulled off a shocker trade that sent Rasheed Wallace to the Trailblazers for Rod Strickland and Harvey (not Horace) Grant. Rasheed’s mom wasn’t too thrilled when she heard the news.
“I’m surprised and confused,” she said. “Rasheed never mentioned that the Bullets might be looking to trade him. It seems to me he would have mentioned that, unless maybe he was waiting to see whether it would happen. “I guess I’m going to have to move to Portland. I don’t want my child all the way out there by himself. Portland. Daggone, give me a break. I’d rather live in California or Miami.”
Living in Miami is what Howard would of preferred too but with a healthy Webber back in the lineup the now much older roster had their best season in a while. They finished over .500 and made the playoffs only to play MJ and the 71 win Bulls in the first round. Despite putting up a good fight the Bullets took 3 to the chest and were out of the playoffs.
The next few years for the now called Wizards would be filled with injuries and off the court drama while Rasheed blossomed with the extremely talented and deep Trailblazers. Inspired by the new team name the Wizards looked to pull off some real magic by making Chris Webber disappear and then reappear as an old not very popular shooting guard named Mitch Richmond.
The only thing to say about the following years Post CW for the franchise is that they went through 5 coaches until they made the playoffs again in the 2004/05 season.
With John Wall running the show in DC now the Wizards do have that promising future I felt when Webber arrived. As for Rasheed, the last time I saw the man he was moving out of the way so he didn’t end up on an Austin Rivers jam.
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The first video above of the 95 Bullets was made from my personal stash of VHS tapes. They were recorded in ep over ep footage so it looks like crap and was capped and edited about 7 years ago which means there is no damn HD version.