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Best one-year wonders in D.C. sports history


Best one-year wonders in D.C. sports history

The hope of many Wizards fans including a celebrity chef is that Paul Pierce chooses to play a second season in Washington. If not, the big shot-making forward, future Hall of Famer, all-world trash talker and social media savant left quite the imprint on the local sports scene. That led to thoughts about similar scenarios for local pro and college teams. Not players who had one great year, but those who had made a presence in their lone campaign in town. With help from some of my CSNwashington.com colleagues, here's a look at other one-year wonders. Let us know what we got right and where we went wrong in the comments section...

Terps - Steve Francis (1998-99)

There are 18 men's basketball players honored with banners hanging above the Xfinity Center court. Only one played just a single season with Terps. In the pre-YouTube era, rumors swirled and legend grew about the electric wing guard and JUCO transfer from Takoma Park via Alleghany Community College headed to College Park. Steve Francis lived up to the highlight hype and then some. He averaged 17.0 points that season with the Terps, but it wasn't just scoring that led to Francis becoming  a fan favorite. Whether attacking the rim off the dribble or coolly sinking jumpers or rising above defenders for seismic dunks, nobody could take their eyes off Stevie Franchise. Perhaps for the first time since Len Bias rocked Cole Field House, Maryland had the coolest kid around. The second-team All-American turned pro following season and was drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies with the second overall pick in the NBA Draft. Some will argue that playing one season not resulting in at least a Final Four berth shouldn't lead to a career recognition honor like a banner. Clearly others disagreed, showing the quick impact made by the kid from Takoma Park.

Nationals - Alfonso Soriano (2006) -- Via Nationals writer Chase Hughes

Alfonso Soriano played just one season with the Nationals, but it certainly was a memorable one. Heading into free agency the following winter, Soriano made his case for a lucrative contract by becoming just the fourth player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season. Soriano ended up with 46 homers, 119 runs, 95 RBI, 41 steals and a .911 OPS. The Nats went 71-91 that year, but Soriano still placed sixth in NL MVP voting.  He also signed a whopping eight-year, $136 million deal with the Chicago Cubs the following offseason. The Nationals lost a slugger, but didn’t come away empty-handed. Washington received two draft picks, the second of which turned into Jordan Zimmermann.

Hoyas - Michael Graham (1983-84)

Though his lone season with the blue and gray took place nearly 30 years ago, Graham remains a memorable member of the Hoyas' prominent history. Even playing alongside Patrick Ewing and under coach John Thompson Jr., the 6-foot-9 Graham's intimidating style stood out as the Hoyas demolished opponents en route to the 1984 national championship. Sporting a shaved head before Michael Jordan made the look cool helped, but there was plenty of steak with the sizzle. With Ewing in foul trouble during the title game against Houston, Graham  stepped up with 14 points on 7 of 9 shooting. Ewing and Thompson are true legends on the Hilltop, but it was Graham on the next Sports Illustrated cover when such a thing mattered.


Capitals - Mike Ribeiro (2012-13) -- Via Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley

The Capitals have had their share of one-hit wonders, the most recent being Mike Ribeiro, who was acquired from the Dallas Stars in 2012 in exchange for Caps prospect Cody Eakin and a second-round draft pick. Ribeiro, who was heading into the final year of a contract that paid him $5 million a season, delivered in his one season in Washington, recording 13 goals and 49 points in a lockout shortened season with the Capitals. Ribeiro’s biggest goal of that season came on May 10 at VerizonCenter when he scored in overtime to give the Caps a 3-2 series lead against the New York Rangers. They lost the next two games and Ribeiro went on to sign a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes.

United - Hristo Stoitchkov (2003)

DCU went from winning the MLS title in 1999 to missing the playoffs in each of the next three seasons. That led to changes entering the 2003 campaign. Enter Stoitchkov, the fiery Bulgarian superstar and European player of the year in 1994 after leading his home country to the World Cup semifinals. The midfielder joined United as a player/coach and ended up scoring five goals. More importantly, the moves paid off with a playoff appearance.

Redskins - Sean Gilbert (1996)

Washington acquired the former top-5 selection from the Rams ahead of the 1996 season. Helped by the run-stuffing defensive tackle, the Redskins started 7-1 before fading and ultimately missing the playoffs. Blame coach Norv Turner more than Gilbert, who finished with 55 tackles, which would rank as the second-highest total of his career. Both sides balked at various contract proposals the following season. Gilbert sat out the entire 1997 campaign before signing a massive seven-year, $48 million contact with the Panthers. Washington could have matched the offer, but instead chose the league-specified compensation of two first-round picks. Those picks eventually led the Redskins drafting Champ Bailey and Chris Samuels. This added bonus gives Gilbert the one-year advantage over linebacker Carl Banks.

Wizards - Emeka Okafor (2012-13)

Pierce wins if the Wizards lose his services. For runner-up, what about the veteran center acquired from New Orleans with Trevor Ariza for Rashard Lewis's contract. Okafor's final stats aren't dazzling, but he turned into a consistent  double-double presence during the second half of the season. Most of all, he helped the youthful locker room mature and set the defensive tone that remains today. Okafor was set to play a second season in Washington, but a neck injury derailed his campaign. The Wizards traded him and a No. 1 pick to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League


Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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