Many will celebrate the fall of Randy Wittman, who was ousted after four-plus years with the Wizards. He didn't always endear himself to many because of his surliness, stubbornness and downright combative demeanor at times with those inside and outside his circle.
But that's who he was, of course, an old school Bobby Knight disciple who was going to do it his way or else. It led to team president Ernie Grunfeld firing him immediately after Wednesday's season finale with the Atlanta Hawks that put the Wizards at 41-41 and out of the playoffs for the first time in three years.
How soon everyone forgets that it also was that uncompromising nature that helped drag the Wizards out of their long-standing ineptitude. They had 19 wins in the 2008-09 season to 26, 23, 20 and 29. They allowed 103.5 points per game (24th NBA) as a defense to 101 (16th) and 104.7 (24th) before Wittman.
Then lo and behold, a roster with Morris Almond, Brian Cook, Chris Singleton, Cartier Martin, Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely, the Wizards held opponents to 98.4 (20th) in 2011-12 when then-assistant Wittman took over for Flip Saunders just 17 games into the season amid heavy roster turnover, too. His teams followed that up with 95.8 allowed (8th), 99.4 (9th) to 97.8 (10th).
What the Wizards lacked in imagination offensively, however, they weren't able to make up for defensively when they allowed 104.6 points this season -- the most a Wittman-coach team has ever relented in Washington -- which inevitably led to his downfall.
John Wall became a three-time All-Star and a more defensively responsible player, with Wittman not afraid to hammer on his best player to show more effort. And he did that before he was given a three-year, $9 million deal in 2014 because Wittman wouldn't compromise his principles to tell his star what he probably didn't want to hear but needed to hear.
When Wall led the Wizards to their first playoff appearance in six years, he was struggling in a second-round series with the Indiana Pacers and later admitted he was emotionally unsure of himself. It was Wittman who encouraged him in a text, "Believe in yourself, John Wall" that inspired him to a memorable performance in Game 5 with 27 points.
As the Wizards' personnel changed since then, bringing in more veterans with the hopes of elevating them to the next level which would've been 50 wins and the conference finals, Wittman's motivational methods didn't work quite as well.
Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley clearly weren't fond of his abrasiveness. Gortat questioned his role in the offensive multiple times. Dudley questioned everything from rotations to in-game strategy adjustments that were lacking.
This roster didn't play hard for him. That's why "effort" was the most common word used to describe the Wizards' success and failures during a season when they had a penchant for blowing fourth-quarter leads and games at home. It led to Bradley Beal calling out teammates. Gortat sub-tweeting his objection. Wall supporting Beal. Embellished tales of practice blowups.
There's enough blame to go around in this soap opera, but as professionals who'll readily go to the ATMs to collect their salaries from majority owner Ted Leonsis, players owed him -- and above all the game -- more than that regardless of their disdain for the head coach.
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Don't cry for Wittman. He earned $6 million in the first two fully guaranteed years of his deal. He received a $500,000 severance to walk away and instead of throwing shade at his players he pointed to the successes he achieved. Their 46 wins last season were the most since 1978-79.
His shortcomings are many. He'd tell half-truths about the injury status of players because he thought in today's information age that he could get a competitive edge by keeping everything under wraps. He'd berate even reporters who'll ask softball questions. He ignited fires when there was none just because, or so it seemed. But as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said about his beard he sported this season, "That's all shtick."
Maybe not all of it. But at 56 years old, this is who Wittman is and that's not going to change. He'll let his guard down when the cameras aren't around which is when he's much more personable. He'll go out of his way to wish you a Merry Christmas. He'll well up with tears when reminiscing about his mentor and friend Saunders, who died suddenly this season from lymphoma. He also endured the sudden death of his older brother in the midst of this trying season and now finds himself unemployed and underappreciated.
"This was a sideshow," Wittman said in his last press conference at Verizon Center. "And we slowly changed the culture of this team."
How successful was George Karl at cleaning up the muck with the Sacramento Kings (fired, no playoff appearances)? How about Lionel Hollins with the Brooklyn Nets (fired, no playoff appearances)?
Though this season was an unmitigated failure, Wittman still succeeded in more ways than most will ever give him credit. It's just that the Wizards hit their ceiling under his leadership and the only place they had to go from here was down. It happens.
To crack it, the Wizards had to make changes to get to the next level. The same can be true for Wittman, who'll need to make changes to stay viable. It's in his nature to go down swinging because he wouldn't have it any other way.