When Comcast Sportsnet announced they were removing Phil from the booth last week, I think everyone in DC was a bit stunned. DC basketball was on a high from winning a division title, and then they dropped that bomb from clouds. They said they wanted a fresh face blah blah blah typical corporate bullshit. Whatever.
Look. The Washington Wizards don’t have much. They may have won a title in the late 70’s but other than that, there’s not a whole lot of history to look back on and reminisce about. Hell, this year’s division title was their first in THIRTY EIGHT YEARS. So yeah. Not a whole lot of rich history besides locker room gunfights and (arguably) failed Michael Jordan comebacks. Wes Unseld played for the franchise for over a decade and won aforementioned title, but I don’t think the vast majority of people who follow the Wizards could point him out if he was walking down the street.
My point is that Phil Chenier IS Washington basketball. He played for the franchise and was on that title team. He’s been in the booth for 33 years through a few ups and a bajillion downs, and he’s always been a consummate professional. Guy just breathes DC basketball. He might not be an electric factory, but the guy gives great analysis every single night whether the Wizards are 5 games over .500 or 30 games under. For a franchise that has virtually zero icons to throw one of their guys out on the street, it just ain’t right. I’m far from the world’s biggest Wizards fan, but when I think of the Wizards and all the silly shit they’ve gone through, I think of Buckhantz and Chenier. I think of those two before I think of any of the players that have come through in recent years. It’s a joke that CSN is going to break up a team that has been together for so long and works so well together. Don’t try to fix something that’s not broken.
It’s rare these days that you get a guy like Chenier in the booth. All the color guys these days seem to have gimmicks, or they talk out of turn and talk out of their ass. Not Phil. He knows the game and he isn’t afraid to dumb it down for his viewers. He’s just a quality commentator, and one that gives a shit about the team too. For him to have to leave right when Wall and Beal have the Wizards on the up and up, it’s just sad. My assumption is that CSN wants to make a change now so that a growing fan base can associate their contending team with a new, youthful color guy but their mentality should be the complete opposite. Bridge the old times with the new. Keep the guy around that can speak from a personal standpoint about how far the franchise has come. And for the love of god, don’t make my man Buckhantz tear up on the air again. Backbreaker city watching that on my couch last night. If the folks over at CSN have half a brain, they’ll undo this ASAP. Otherwise, it looks like this 1st round series is all we have left of Steve and Phil.