Saturday, February 4 2023

Arenas, Jordan lead All-Blue and Bronze era Wizards team originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When Bradley Beal wears the Wizards’ blue and bronze 25th anniversary throwback jerseys this season, it will be his first time wearing them in an NBA game. Beal was drafted by the Wizards in 2012 and those uniforms were phased out before the 2011-12 season.

So, in coming up with a best of the blue and bronze era roster, Beal would not be included. Neither would Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes or Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe. It would have to only be players who played in those jerseys, which were introduced for the 1997-98 season and replaced after 2010-11.

There were 119 total players during that time. Of those 119 players, no one played more games than Brendan Haywood (579), no one logged more minutes than Antawn Jamison (16307) and no one scored more points than Gilbert Arenas (8930).

All three are on the All-Blue and Bronze Era Wizards team. Here is the full 12-man roster, including the head coach and some honorable mentions:

G John Wall

Wall only played one season in the blue and bronze jerseys, but he was excellent. He averaged 16.4 points, 8.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game in what was undoubtedly one of the best rookie years in franchise history. Wall averaging that many assists was an impressive feat not only for a rookie, but on a roster that was among the worst in the league. He would have won the Rookie of the Year award if it weren’t for Blake Griffin debuting a year late due to injury.

G Gilbert Arenas

The best scorer of the blue and bronze era, Arenas made three All-NBA teams at his peak. He was an electric offensive player who overwhelmed defenders with his size, shooting range and quick first step. Arenas’ short-lived heyday with the Wizards was an exciting time. He was an entertaining player and personality, who became an NBA star in every sense before his unfortunate and infamous demise.

G/F Michael Jordan

The greatest player of all time wasn’t the same athlete he was in his Chicago Bulls days, but he was still very good. Jordan would give you 20 points a night and he hit a series of buzzer-beaters. One of the more interesting questions about this team would be who takes the last shot between him and Arenas, as both had a knack for it. Jordan should probably get the tiebreak there because, well, he’s Michael Jordan. His Airness was also very reliable, playing in all 82 games as a 40-year-old in his final season.

F Antawn Jamison

Jamison was a walking double-double in his prime with the Wizards. He was also arguably before his time as a stretch-4. In his best years with the Wizards, Jamison not only shot threes at a good percentage but in fairly high volume. He was also one of the most creative finishers around the rim and in the midrange. Jamison was known for making shots using odd release angles.

F/C Chris Webber

A Hall of Famer, Webber only played one season in the blue and bronze jerseys before getting traded to the Sacramento Kings. It was the last of his four years in Washington, but he put up big numbers per usual, averaging 21.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. We could go over how it was a shame he got traded after his Age 24 season, but you already know that. Webber was a unique athlete because of his mobility and skillset at 6-foot-10, and was just generally fun to watch play basketball.

G Larry Hughes 

Hughes played three seasons in Washington and had his best years, including in 2004-05 when he averaged 22.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and led the NBA with 2.9 steals per game. That year earned him All-Defense and a big free agent contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hoped he would be the ideal complement to a young LeBron James. That didn’t work out, but Hughes was great in D.C. and, if you talk to Wizards players from that era, he may have been the most effective communicator to Arenas. Some wonder how Arenas’ career would have transpired if Hughes had never left.

F Caron Butler

One could argue Butler, a.k.a. ‘Tuff Juice,’ should be in the starting lineup, but Jordan is Jordan so he gets the nod. Butler, though, was really good in Washington. He scored, he rebounded, he made plays for others and he got a lot of steals. Butler was also a very popular player, who arrived in a trade for Kwame Brown and overcame a remarkable backstory to become a multi-time All-Star.

RELATED: Could Wizards’ 2022-23 schedule lead to a fast start?

C Brendan Haywood

Haywood was a solid and reliable starting center known primarily for his rim protection. As mentioned above, nobody played more games in the blue and bronze than Haywood, who spent nine years in Washington, all of which fell during that color scheme. Haywood was very durable, at least for his first seven seasons in town.

F Juwan Howard

Howard played 3-plus seasons for the blue and bronze Wizards after beginning his career with the Bullets. He had his best statistical years with the Bullets, but was solid for the Wizards, averaging about 17 points and seven rebounds per game. Like Webber, his college teammate, Howard was traded away by the Wizards and went on to have a long and successful career with other teams.

G Rod Strickland

Point guard was definitely a strength for the Wizards during much of their blue and bronze era and Strickland was the first in line. He came over in a trade for Rasheed Wallace, which isn’t looked back on as a great trade for the Wizards because of who they gave up, but Strickland performed well in Washington. He led the NBA in assists in 1997-98, he could score, rebound and get steals. Strickland probably should have been an All-Star in 1998, but was snubbed.

G Richard Hamilton

Hamilton was drafted by the blue and bronze Wizards and very quickly developed into one of the best young scorers in the NBA. But the Wizards, then trying to find more immediate help alongside Jordan, traded him to the Pistons for Jerry Stackhouse. Hamilton went on to win a championship with the Pistons alongside two other players the Wizards let go too soon: Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace.

G Chris Whitney

Another point guard. Whitney was a great story as a 10-day contract who ended up playing 463 games for the Wizards and setting the franchise record for 3-pointers. That record has since been broken, but Whitney was just a consistent player for a long time and that’s why he was selected over some others with bigger names who had higher peaks.

Head coach: Eddie Jordan

The Wizards had nine different coaches lead the Wizards during their blue and bronze era, some who were very successful at other stops, but Jordan had the most success in Washington. He led the Wizards to four straight playoff appearances after the franchise went just once in the previous 16 years. Jordan was fired after a 1-10 start in 2008, but did a fine job overall for the Wizards.

Just missed the cut: Ben Wallace, JaVale McGee, Jerry Stackhouse

Source: Yahoo Sports


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