Wizards embraced ‘Death Row Records’ before record-setting turnaround
Something clearly got into the Washington Wizards around mid-December. After a 9-14 start, the team was reeling, looking for answers as to why a talented roster couldn’t figure out a way to win consistently. And then, seemingly suddenly, the switch flipped. The Wizards started winning — a lot — and put up the league’s fourth-best record after Dec. 15 at 39-19. They became the first team in NBA history to reach 15 games over .500 after starting the season 2-8 or worse. So what happened?
According to The Vertical’s Michael Lee, the Wizards embraced their toughness by likening their team to the legendary 90s hip-hop label, Death Row Records. Forward Markieff Morris dubbed the team, “Death Row D.C.,” and the turnaround began. From Lee’s story:
Morris even assigned nicknames to his teammates to match the superstar personalities of that legendary label, Death Row Records. [John Wall] would be Tupac Shakur “because John is a little crazy,” [Bradley] Beal told The Vertical. Morris, a mild-mannered guy who could snap in an instant, would be Snoop Dogg. Beal would be Dr. Dre “because there is no Death Row without Dr. Dre,” Beal told The Vertical. Suge Knight? That would go to team security guard, David Best, a former college basketball player who sometimes sports a beard and a nearly shaved head. As the team continued to win, the name started to stick, the hashtag #DeathRowDC gained life on the social-media platforms of Wall, Beal and Morris and the Wizards slowly started to embrace that edgier side on the floor.
So there you have it … if your team wants to assume a new identity, look no further than your old CD collection.
“It was just the realization that we weren’t the team that we knew we were capable of being,” Beal told The Vertical. “We didn’t give up on it. We stayed with it and we’re confident in who we are.”
The Death Row D.C. attitude was evident in Game 1 against the Hawks, which got real chippy real quick, with Morris as the primary agitator. He got into repeated scuffles with Paul Millsap , which led to one of the iconic photos of the opening weekend of the playoffs.
The rough approach clearly worked, as the Wizards won, 114-107, and held Millsap relatively in check. You better believe the Wizards will be bumping some “All Eyez on Me” in the locker room before Game 2.