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Wizards Soldier on Despite The Curse of Les Boulez


In a thread begun by RealGM poster Chocolate City Jordanaire, I released preliminary details of an investigation I've commissioned into what Tony Kornheiser has called "The Curse of Les Boulez."

While the investigation is ongoing, I feel confident in reporting what's been learned so far.

It's apparent to me that Kornheiser knows far more about The Curse than he's previously let on. Many believe the former Washington Post columnist and current TV sports pundit was merely coining a clever phrase to summarize the franchise's persistent run of misfortune. My investigative team has shown that to be false.

The Curse was actually the brainchild of Les Boulez, a French hunter/trapper and illegitimate half brother of the composer Pierre Boulez. Growing up in the same town, the two had a contentious relationship. Les was angry and resentful, at first at the father who refused to recognize him in any way, and then at Pierre who had the full love, support and financial backing the Boulez family could muster.

Pierre and Abe Pollin developed a relationship through the years due to their shared passion for atonal music. He had begun encouraging Abe to change the team's name as far back as 1976. Most of his proposed names were musical terms and puns, which didn't tickle Abe's fancy.

During a period of detente between the brothers, Pierre confided in Les about a possible name change for the franchise. Les immediately started pushing for "Beavers." Not for the frat boy puns and great headlines, but because he made his fortune (in Canada) on beaver pelts and greatly admired the animals for their dam building and strong teeth (Les had notoriously bad teeth, in part because his family couldn't afford visits to the dentist).

Pierre didn't like the name and wouldn't even pass it along to Abe. Meanwhile, he continued  pushing for a name change, shifting focus from musical terms to other favored names including: Marin Chien, Megere, Etalon, and Magiciens. (Linguists may recognize some of these names translated to English: Sea Dogs, Dragons, Stallions, and Wizards.)

Pierre's refusal to even include "Beavers" infuriated Les, who swore revenge. After years of searching for just the right punishment, he gave an Arapho medicine man, whose name he never revealed, one ton of beaver pelts to curse the Washington Bullets.

The curse worked so well that the team has sucked ever since. It was the curse, far more than the lobbying of Pierre Boulez, that eventually led Abe to change the name. The name change didn't break the curse, unfortunately, because Les had the foresight to curse the FRANCHISE, not just the "Bullets."

When you know these details of the true story, Kornheiser's duplicity in writing about the "Curse of Les Boulez" becomes readily apparent. Kornheiser didn't coin a phrase, he merely reported the literal name: "The Curse of Les Boulez."

As mentioned previously, the investigation is still underway with the goal of lifting the curse and permitting the team to experience the normal ebb and flow of good and bad luck. Current investigative tracks underway: 

  • identifying the identity of the Arapho medicine man who applied The Curse.
  • locating the Holy Grail of The Curse: the scroll inscribed with the precise wording.
One investigator believes that Les may still be alive, and he is being sought for questioning. My team has also been attempting to get an interview with Kornheiser, but has been rebuffed thus far by Kornheiser's "security" team.

As a footnote, it's a little known fact that Pierre Boulez was actually the musical genius who wrote "That's the Reason I'm A Bullets Fan." It was kind of an F you to his half brother, which of course backfired. He refused credit for his work in the masterpiece, perhaps because of the powerful curse he helped bring upon the franchise through his arrogance. He didn't know at the time that The Curse had already been placed.

More details when I have them. If anyone has information that could lead to removing The Curse of Les Boulez, please send it my way. Investigators are standing by and will pursue any and every lead.

In the meantime, here's my weekly stat update on the performance of individual Wizards players so far this season. As usual, the number reported is my own statistical rating system, which I call "Player Production Average" (PPA). It rewards players for doing things that contribute to winning and penalizes them for things that contribute to losing -- each in proportion to what causes teams to win and lose.

As usual, 100 = average, higher is better, and 60 = replacement level.

Nene  21.0  163  132 
Cartier Martin 12.4  90  117 
Emeka Okafor 17  20.8  125 116 
Earl Barron 8.6  111 107 
Jordan Crawford 17  25.6  74 106 
Trevor Ariza 15  25.1  97 101 
Martell Webster 16  23.0  112 99 
A.J. Price 17  27.8  78 84 
Trevor Booker  24.1  85 83 
Bradley Beal 17  27.9  49 66 
Kevin Seraphin 16  25.7  32 52 
Chris Singleton 17  18.7  46 48 
Shaun Livingston 18.0  57 46 
Jan Vesely 14  12.3  -9 -9 
Jannero Pargo 14.6  -64 -63 

Improvers include Martin, Crawford, Beal and Seraphin. Decliners: Nene and Webster. Wizards still have too many guys performing at substandard levels while playing significant minutes.

The team is up to 5 players (6 if you want to count Webster) producing at league average level or better. Several are playing fewer minutes than their less productive teammates. PPA suggests that -- if the Wizards want to win games -- Okafor and Nene should play the lion's share of center and power forward minutes. Nene's minutes have been limited by his foot injury, but Okafor has played fewer minutes than Seraphin, who has been inefficient and ineffective most of the time.

Also, I want to give Crawford his due for improved play. His performance started strong this season then dipped, but has bounced back lately. His overall production is a shade above league average, and his offensive efficiency has reached almost average (his offensive rating is 104 points produced per 100 possessions; league average is 105.1 to date). What I find encouraging is that his rebound and assist numbers have been solid. I still want to see him improve his shot selection, but if he can keep this up, he should have a role off someone's bench for the next few years.