From Washington’s Streaking Bullets to “Washington’s Great Wizard Delusion”: The Winning and Losing Discourse of the Washington Bullets and Wizards




Lavine, Jamel

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The Washington Wizards are one of several franchises to have won a championship in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Although the franchise achieved this during a decade of consecutive postseason appearances, it has been recognized more for its tendencies to falter and underperform. The Wizards have compiled season after season of losing records with the occasional glimmer of hope that the upcoming season will be markedly different from seasons past. The purpose of this research is to offer an explanation as to why the franchise has been among the worst performing in the NBA when there are systematic opportunities each year to improve either through the NBA Draft, free agency, or development of players in the off-season. The focus of this research will be on the Wizards, formerly the Bullets, performance in the 1970s and 2000s. By analyzing discourse of sportswriters hailing from the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post, themes were generated from their discourse which highlight the franchise’s prolonged struggles. Research from these selected decades represents key periods at which the team moved from a perennial playoff contender to the lower rungs of the NBA. The examined discourse from these decades serves as a basis for understanding how pronounced the franchise’s struggles have been through the years and presents points suggesting why they are continually stuck in the rebuilding stage.



Washington Wizards, Washington Bullets, Winning, Losing, Sports ideology