We were traveling Monday night, so we missed the Wizards' history-making 96-89 loss to the Indiana Pacers, which means that Washington is officially off to its worst start in franchise history (0-9). We were, however, able to watch, with no small level of fascination, Randy Wittman's postgame press conference. You can view the whole thing for yourself here via our content partners at Monumental Sports and Entertainment.
To us, there's something very unnerving about just how zen Wittman was Monday night. Over at Bullets Forever, Amin Vafa described him like this:
[Wittman] walked into the press conference with an eerie calmness as if he were a long lost Albert Camus character. He wasn't quite sad; he wasn't quite confused. He knew what had happened, as if he had been watching the whole game in slow-motion himself and replaying it ... For tonight, it seemed Wittman was holding in the emotions of many, trying not to release them.
It wasn't so long ago that Randy Wittman didn't have much trouble holding in emotions. Remember this slow burn of a press conference after a home loss to Sacramento this past February? Then, about a week later, the famous "I'm done with young guys as an excuse" opus following a loss in Milwaukee? Has that guy gone forever?
One more thing: we couldn't help but notice the number of times Wittman said "I don't know" Monday night. We remembered a quote from Ted Leonsis that we read in Red Rising, the new book from SB Nation DC Capitals editor Ted Starkey (now available for the holidays).
Here's what Leonsis said in discussing the firing of then-Capitals coach Glen Hanlon, who was replaced by Bruce Boudreau midway through the 2007-08 NHL season. We know it's a different sport, with different general managers of different temperaments involved, but it kept returning to us as we watched Wittman Monday.
[Capitals General Manager] George [McPhee] thought after [a 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers], when he spent time with Glen, that Glen said some magic words, which were 'I don't know what to do.' For a coach, there is some symbolism in the 'I'm going to press this button, I'm going to change this lineup,' and when you've run out of those, that really is a cry for help.
We're not suggesting that Wittman will get pink-slipped this morning, but having a coach at Wittman's level of ennui nine games into an 82-game season says something. And it's not good.