One's Hollywood. The other? None other than the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
The Washington Wizards, who defied the odds on Tuesday night and won the NBA draft lottery held in Secaucus, N.J., are about to find that out. Basketball is on the way back in the District of Columbia.
Tuesday was just another stop on the roller-coaster journey the Wizards franchise has taken in the past six months — a journey that's seen a lot more downs than ups and a lot more losses than wins. Here's just some of the pain that Wiz fans have been forced to endure:
- Oct. 27: The Wizards open their season with a healthy Gilbert Arenas, and with him come higher hopes and higher expectations than D.C. had seen in a long while. The Wiz win their season opener convincingly, 102-91 on the road over a strong Dallas Mavericks team. They're off to a good start.
- November: They proceed to lose seven of their next eight games, and nine of their next 11. So much for this being their year.
- Nov. 24: Abe Pollin, the longtime owner of the Wizards, Capitals and the WNBA's Washington Mystics, dies at the age of 85. He was the longest-tenured owner in the Association and a true icon in Washington sports. The Wizards are forced to play on without him.
- Dec. 24: Franchise cornerstone No. 1, Arenas, turns the NBA world upside down with news that he'd been caught with unloaded firearms in his locker, and that he and teammate Javaris Crittenton had drawn guns during a locker room disagreement gone wrong.
- Feb. 13: Franchise cornerstone No. 2, Caron Butler, is traded to the Dallas Mavericks along with Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson for a pile of expiring contracts. (Butler's Mavericks, already loaded even before they acquired him, would later be eliminated in shocking fashion by an aging San Antonio team in Round 1 of the playoffs.)
- Feb. 17: Franchise cornerstone No. 3, Antawn Jamison, is bundled into a three-way trade with Cleveland and the L.A. Clippers. Jamison ends up alongside LeBron James. (Jamison's Cavs, already loaded even before they acquired him, would later be eliminated in shocking fashion by an aging Boston team in Round 2 of the playoffs.)
- March 26: Arenas is convicted of carrying an unlicensed handgun. He's sentenced to two years probation and 30 days in a halfway house, a sentence he recently finished serving.
- April 14: The Wizards finish their season with a 98-97 win over the Pacers, giving them a final record of 26-56, the fourth-worst record among teams in this spring's NBA draft lottery.
- May 18: The lottery. Oh, the lottery.
So now, here we are. The Wizards have won the right to pick No. 1 overall in next month's NBA draft, beating out teams from New Jersey, Minnesota and Sacramento that had all finished the season with worse records. After a year of misery, grief, misery, controversy and a little more misery, the Wiz have finally gotten very, very lucky.
After a season marred by tragedy, injury, scandal and a couple of unfortunate trades, the franchise's future is decided by ping-pong balls. The days of Washington's Big Three — Arenas, Butler and Jamison — are over. Unless the Wiz do something crazy, we can assume that the future of the franchise is Kentucky point guard John Wall. Call him the Big One.
The Wizards are going through a rebuilding phase, and it's going better than they ever could have hoped. They've got a proven coach in Flip Saunders. They've got a pair of capable youngsters in Nick Young and Al Thornton, two bona fide rising stars who proved themselves in the season's final weeks. And in just a matter of time, they'll have Wall.
Things are looking up for the Wizards. They won't win a championship in 2011, but down the road, there's hope.
Washington's a town that's always loved hope.