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Washington picks Bradley Beal and makes a fan of Earl again

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Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012 12:05 am

I am once again a card-carrying member of the Washington Wizards fan club.

I have been a fan of the Bullets/Wizards for 43 years, but I left the bandwagon in recent years due to some knuckleheaded decisions made by the player personnel office.

However, I am back on board after last Thursday when the Wizards took former Chaminade College Prep All-American Bradley Beal with the No. 3 pick in the National Basketball Association Draft.

Outstanding. Not only are the Wizards getting a future star performer in the league, but they are also getting a high-character individual who will represent himself and the franchise in a first-class manner.

At just 19 years old, Beal will bring a professionalism and work ethic to the franchise that belies his relative youth. His shooting ability and talent are surpassed by his unquenchable work ethic. Bradley's sole purpose in life is to become a better basketball player today than he was yesterday.

It is that kind of work ethic that will make Beal an excellent player for the Wizards. He will do everything in his power to maximize the vast talent that has been blessed upon him.

For someone who has been following the franchise since 1969, last Thursday was a great evening for me. Ever since the Baltimore Bullets drafted my uncle (Hall of Famer Wes Unseld), I have been a rabid fan through thick and thin.

Wes Unseld was one of the NBA's all-time great players and the greatest player in the Wizards’ history. He also remained with the franchise in several capacities for several more years until his retirement. The Wizards also had St. Louis area players such as Larry Hughes and Jahidi White, which was a huge bonus. My cousin, Wes Unseld Jr., was an assistant coach, so all was good. Even as the franchise enjoyed just moderate success during the past two decades, my heart was with them.

Unfortunately, the last few seasons have been as thin as you can get. Not only were the Wizards losing games, but they were fielded a team full of clowns who did nothing but embarrass the franchise with their behavior.

The last straw for me came a few years back with the Gilbert Arenas-Jarvis Crittendon gunplay incident on a team flight. That, along with the presence of knuckleheads such as Josh Howard, Nick Young and others made it too much for even a lifelong fan like me to bear.

I decided to let the Wizards go for awhile, even with my cousin on the bench. When Wes Jr. left Washington to become the assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors, I was able to completely wash my hands of the franchise. Good riddance.

However, just when I thought I was done for good with Washington, they did something to pull me back in. They drafted Bradley Beal.

Not only did they draft Bradley, but the Wizards also made pre-draft deals to acquire forwards Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. These are solid veterans who will bring some true professionalism to the floor and the locker room. Toss in starting center Nene and a burgeoning star in point guard John Wall, things appear to be looking up in the nation's capital.

Yes, I am looking forward to following my Washington Wizards again. It's good to be back.

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