al thornton

Originally published in SLAM 147

The Wizards tried everything but they were still winless on the road. They were getting desperate. Trading Gilbert was no help. Nor was the long-overdue removal of Rip Hamilton’s photo from the player’s lounge. Even Gheorghe Muresan was stumped.

There were players-only meetings more than once, a symbolic burning of one of their horrid gold uniforms behind the practice facility. Still, the Ls piled up. An 0-fer the season wasn’t entirely out of the question. What could be done? Dunking on people, that’s what. Would it help? Maybe. Would it be a distraction? Undoubtedly. Would it be fun? Absolutely. Not exactly the kind of exorcism prescribed in The Rite, but hey, you work with what you have.

So they worked through the roster, everyone capable of getting someone—Andray Blatche, Cartier Martin, JaVale McGee. (Kirk Hinrich was excused.) Maybe when they cycled through the whole roster, the nightmare would come to an end.

Home game, the Hawks. Locker room filling pregame, players talking quietly amongst themselves or lost under their Beats. “Yo Al!,” McGee yelled to Al Thornton. “You’re up. Make it count.”

Russ Bengtson