We normally don't go all Fire Joe Morgan on local columnists, mostly because that crew set such an impossibly high standard that any attempt to imitate them would fall short. We should also point out that we've enjoyed John Feinstein's work in the past (Season on the Brink, The Majors, A Good Walk Spoiled, A Season Inside, The Last Amateurs, A Civil War, etc.)
But this ... this needs to be nipped in the bud.
Clearly, what is going on with the Wizards isn't working. And it isn't going to start working anytime soon ... Here's the answer: Hire Gary Williams as coach.
And why, pray, does Feinstein want an abrasive 67-year-old retiree with zero (0) NBA experience to become ringmaster of this circus?
Why? Because there's no one who tolerates losing less than Williams ... Williams is a young 67 and won't really care that much if he gets fired for ruffling anyone's feathers. Randy Wittman is 53 and wants to coach a while longer, so he has to be more careful in his handling of his so-called stars in a star-driven league.
Needless to say, there is zero (0) evidence presented to support that last sentence.
It should be remembered that Williams took over at Maryland in 1989 at a brutal time in school history: the shadow of Len Bias's death hung over the campus and NCAA sanctions were on their way, thanks to Bob Wade. Williams built a national championship team by pushing, cajoling and screaming at the heavens about the injustice of the Duke-North Carolina axis in the ACC. He lost his zeal for recruiting when it became impossible to recruit star players without rolling in the AAU mud, but he would be reborn in the NBA.
So, a guy who wouldn't deign to recruit guys from AAU programs would be comfortable in the NBA, which is full of AAU guys and where pushing, cajoling, and screaming only takes you so far? Real quick: what successful NBA coach has had a personality that comes even close to that of Gary "If you cared, you'd be sweating!" Williams? Our answer's below.
Oh, and comparing today's Wizards to post-Bob Wade Maryland is like comparing apples to car batteries. Totally irrelevant.
Williams should coach the Wizards, and Ed Tapscott, already on the payroll, should be in charge of personnel - reporting to Williams.
Ed "18-53 as an NBA interim coach" Tapscott. Jesus God Almighty.
Of course there's also the argument that college coaches don't translate to the pros. That, to put it politely, is a bunch of hooey. Most coaches who have tried the pros have been hired by awful teams - such as the Wizards. The difference with Williams: He would be taking the job for entirely different reasons.
Oh? Remember when Rick Pitino, all of 46 years old and coming off back-to-back Final Fours and the 1996 national title at Kentucky, went up to Boston to revive the moribund Celtics, essentially staging a coup of the team's front office in the process? Or when 37-year-old John Calipari, also coming off a Final Four appearance at UMass (later vacated, natch), was hired to make the Nets relevant? How'd those work out for everybody? (Note that we've offered two more specific instances to back up our case than Feinstein has to back up his.). Pitino at least had NBA experience when he was hired in 1997. The 67-year-old Williams, again, has none. Zero. Nil. Bupkes.
He wouldn't be taking the job for the money; he would be taking the job because he's bored. Williams is a coach. He is a basketball junkie in the first degree who is too healthy and too active to play golf and sit in a TV studio and talk about teams he isn't coaching. He has always been intrigued by the NBA, and especially in what has been his home town for the past 23 years, he would not pass up the chance to revive a franchise that is in desperate need of a new voice, new leadership and, most of all, a new plan. If Leonsis calls, Williams will answer.
Not a single quote from Williams to support this, keep in mind. Not even the vaguest possible "never say never/ under the right circumstances ... " utterance. None whatsoever. (UPDATE: Feinstein now says Williams told him he'd take the job. Why Feinstein didn't mention this in his column is anyone's guess.)
One final note: The last time Washington mattered in the NBA, when it won the title in 1978 and went to the Finals in 1979, the coach was Dick Motta, who went from Weber State to the Chicago Bulls to the Washington Bullets. Who then became the world champion Washington Bullets - led by a former college coach.
Good to know that absolutely nothing about the NBA has changed in the interim. By the way, the only coach to win both an NBA and an NCAA title (and the answer to our own question above)? Larry Brown (1988 Kansas, 2004 Pistons). What's he up to these days? Oh, yeah. He's in college. Where, frankly, he (and Williams) belong.