As I walked through the press entrance doors for the final time this season as a member of the media, nothing appeared to be out of the normal. It was a gloomy, rainy day in the nation's capital and very fittingly, Chris Singleton's tone was up to par with the mood of the weather outside. Anyone who has heard Singleton talk knows what I mean: very low voice, very open to the media, but at the same time, very sheltered in what he says.
As the members of the media stood in the hallway awaiting each player to finish their end of the season routines, the conversation was all the same. Questions about individual things each player should work on, what do they expect the team to do in the draft and who will participate in the Summer League. Then something amazing happened. Something that really made me appreciate the character of this team and finally understand the direction they're going in.
In the middle of Chris Singleton's mundane interview, Martell Webster decided to come in and crash the party. Martell is such a fun-loving and charismatic person it's very easy to see why everyone loves him. He cracks jokes on everyone, always smiling, teasing his teammates and he has a lot of fun with the media. Basically, he's the kind of guy you would love to go to the bar with and kick back a cold one. I've been around a number of great personalities in sports, but Martell Webster has to be one of the more enjoyable players I've spoken to and it's very easy to see why he has quickly become not just a fan favorite, but an irreplaceable part to this Wizards core. He even interrupted a reporter earlier in an interview and told him he had a female hair hanging from his face to which the equally witty reporter responded with, "At least you said it was a female hair." The room lit up as everyone, including Martell let loose for a few moments and went with the joke.
Does being an amazing personality as an athlete make the difference towards building a championship contender? No, of course not, but it goes a long way in building team chemistry and allowing your teammates to feel like they can trust you. Every person on that team constantly talks about what Martell brings to the table. We always knew he was a great athlete when healthy, but his character, heart and hustle were on full display throughout the course of the season. He also emerged as one of the best shooters on this team and shot over 42% from 3 point range.
For all the talk about the potential talent Bradley Beal possess, John Wall's impending contract, Nene's production and Kevin Seraphin being yelled at by Randy Wittman, the most consistent thing this season has been the production of Martell Webster. When healthy, Webster brings so much to the table. A guy with tremendous size, great speed and a contagious personality. And even with all that, he remains humble. He spent most of his press conference today talking about the other guys on the team. He told us he really "bought in" to what the Wizards were all about when coach Randy Wittman came in to the locker room after the team's 12th straight loss to start the season and he broke down in to tears. That was the turning point for him as far as this season went. it even sparked him to do a little Randy Wittman impression and he NAILED it. He hit on every Wittman nuance in Wittman's voice, his body language and movements. You would've thought he was an actor in the offseason.
Webster also emphasized the importance of this team to make a move to become a contender next season. He noted that they had the right pieces in place and felt confident that they could do damage in the postseason when their roster is healthy.
Someone then asked him about what the Wizards should do with their draft pick and whether they should develop someone in the draft or maybe make a trade for a veteran player who would contribute immediately. Martell was very blunt and answered, "this team has gone through the rebuilding process already. The time is now." While I suppose he never said that they should make a trade with that pick, it seemed very evident to note where he stood on the matter. Martell is ready to win and so are the Wizards. With their starting 5 and core guys in tact for next season, I fully expect the Wizards to compete for a playoff spot, Not just a spot, but a higher seed.
Here are some highlights from Webster's animated exit, beginning with his intrusion on Chris Singleton's interview...
Once settled, 'Tell began discussing the hope and promise for the younger guys who didn't get as much burn this season.
Martell also believes the Wizards are "scary" good when healthy, and that injuries were the primary reason for the team's struggles early in the season.
Webster intends to work out with John Wall this summer. Also says Bradley Beal needs to take care of his "weak ass ankle."
And finally, Webster calls out Kevin Seraphin's exposed buttcrack from across the hallway, and then has no idea what Kevin says back to him.