Thom Loverro: Wizards, why not go with Williams?

BY: Thom Loverro February 8, 2012 | 12:00 am

As we laugh and cry through a season of "Wrongway McGee and his pathetic Band of Misfits" at the Verizon Center this NBA season, in between guffaws and groans is speculation about the future of the Washington Wizards.

It's not a pretty picture, in part because owner Ted Leonsis publicly seems disconnected from what Wizards fans are watching this season.

He seems to see a glass half full.

Wizards fans, however, see the glass filled to the top -- with rat poison.

This disconnect is likely not reality for Leonsis. It flies in the face of his track record with the Washington Capitals; he has been very connected to hockey fans and the product he is selling them.

So put the glass down and consider that the future will be different. Open your mind to the possibilities of fun coming back to Fun Street.

Open your mind to the possibility of local basketball coaching legend Gary Williams coaching the Wizards.

Why not?

It seems far-fetched, perhaps because of Williams' age -- he is 66 -- and perhaps because he just stepped down from a job he loved and with which he forever will be identified as coach of the Maryland Terrapins.

But Williams doesn't think it is that far-fetched -- at least not enough to dismiss it.

He was asked about coaching in the NBA during a recent appearance on my radio show, "The Sports Fix," on ESPN 980, and in a lengthy answer, you didn't hear the words "no" or "I'm done" in his reply.

"I did have some opportunities to get into the league in the past," Williams said. "When I retired, you think, well, you've coached the last time. And I'd been a college coach a long time.

"The pro game's always fascinated me because it's pure basketball," he said. "You're kind of on equal footing because of salary caps and things like that. I will always like that idea because sometimes in college you get into situations where you just don't have the ability to do what other teams you have to supposedly beat [can do]. Never say never is the way I've always looked at it."

Why not?

Nearly everyone has always acknowledged that Williams, with a career record of 668-380 and one NCAA championship, is a great coach. He has a reputation as an excellent game coach. His perceived weakness at the end of his Maryland run was the distaste he had for recruiting in today's college basketball atmosphere -- something that won't be part of his NBA coaching duties.

He is demanding. He is intense. But that doesn't mean he doesn't know how to manage players and personalities. His players who have gone on to play in the NBA remain fiercely loyal to Williams long after they left College Park.

Gary Williams, coach of the Washington Wizards.

Why not?

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and Contact him at

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Thom Loverro

Thom Loverro

Examiner Sports Columnist

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