News & Politics

The Blogger Beat: Bullets Forever

This week, we talk hoops with Washington Wizards blogger Mike Prada from Bullets Forever.

Wizards blogger Mike Prada wearing his favorite jersey. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Mike Prada’s blog was named Bullets Forever by mistake. He’d been blogging under the name Bullets Fever—a nod to the Nils Lofgren song that was recorded after the team won the 1978 championship—when sports site SB Nation approached him about joining its blog network. Prada accepted, and when asked what he wanted his URL to be, he said “Bullets Fever,” but they heard “Bullets Forever.” “It was probably a blessing in disguise,” says Prada. “I bet a lot of Wizards fans don’t know who Lofgren is, and besides, lots of people—including myself—wish the Bullets never changed their name.”

Prada, a 22-year-old Bethesda native, has been a Wizards fan all his life. He started going to games with his dad in the late 1990s and continued to follow the team during college at Brandeis University. He wrote about sports for his college newspaper but missed being able to talk to fellow Wizards fans about his hometown team. That’s when he decided to start a blog.

Prada says he writes for an audience of avid Wizards fans who know the game and the team inside and out. He opens a comment thread for every game and encourages fans to post thoughts and commentary as the game is being played. Prada was able to score press credentials this season, so he also does interviews and reports during games and practices. Readers can blog, too—a section called FanPosts allows anyone to post a link, picture, quote, or video.

We caught up with Prada to get his predictions for the 2009-2010 season, which got underway two weeks ago with a win against Dallas. There’s already a lot to debate—the team’s new coach, Flip Saunders, and Gilbert Arenas’s health, for starters—so read on for Prada’s answers. Then leave your thoughts on the team in the comments section below.

Rate your love for basketball on a scale of 1 to 10—with 1 being “I’d rather watch golf” and 10 being “I wear body paint under my work clothes”:
“Nine. That body-paint idea sounds interesting. I should’ve thought of it sooner.”

Number of hours you’ve logged watching the Wizards play:
“Whatever three hours times 82 games (and beyond) is. Sometimes more, because I often re-watch a game to catch things I missed the first time around.”

Most memorable game you’ve ever attended:
“Probably Game 3 of the 1997 first-round series against the Bulls. The Bullets lost, but they gave Chicago everything they could handle. It was also supposed to be the last game in the old USAir Arena, so the place was so loud. It was an old dump, so sound traveled really easily. More recently? I’ve been at school, so I haven’t gone much in the Gilbert Arenas era until this year, since I’ve been credentialed.”

Your prediction for the Wizards’ record this year and the team’s standing in the NBA:
“Before the season, I said 47-35 and tied for fourth in the East. That might be a bit optimistic, but I’m sticking with it.”

Points-per-game average for Gilbert Arenas:
“22.7, because Flip Saunders’s teams play at a slower pace.”

Injury predictions for Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler:
“A combined 35 games: 10 for Jamison and Arenas, 15 for Butler.”

New player with the most potential:
“The Wizards traded their draft pick for two veterans, Mike Miller and Randy Foye, and signed old reliable Fabricio Oberto. Of the three, I guess Miller has the chance to make the most impact, but these guys don’t offer potential as much as they offer reliability—at least in theory.”

Most valuable returning player:
“Arenas. You simply don't win in the NBA without a guy who can create a shot from anywhere on the court. Every great team has one, and Arenas is that guy for the Wizards. There are very few players in the league who can take on an offensive load like he has and still score at the rate he does. Not only that, but his ability to score means the defense has to devote more attention to him, creating openings for Arenas's teammates."

Three things Flip Saunders should know going into his debut season:
“1. Always consult with Gilbert on everything; 2. Improve the defense, and we’ll love you; 3. Don’t get annoyed when it seems like there are more fans of the opposing team than Wizards fans. DC is a transplant city.”

Your thoughts on the Washington/Cleveland rivalry:
“Best one in the NBA right now. The psychology of it is so interesting, with the Cavs constantly claiming the Wizards aren’t their rival and the Wizards constantly ragging on the golden boy of the league, LeBron James. It reminds me of the Maryland/Duke rivalry from the beginning of the decade. Duke always claimed North Carolina was their rival, but deep down, they hated Maryland; it was also way more two-sided than anyone made it out to be. Sure, Cleveland’s won every playoff series, but the Wizards weren’t healthy for two of those series (2007 and 2008), and I think the two teams have actually split the last 16 regular-season games.”

Jersey number you’d want if you were a Wizards player:
“78, as in the last time the franchise won a title.”

What you do in the off-season:
“Usually, we work on longer-form pieces that offer more big-picture analysis or catch up with a former Bullet or Wizard. There’s always a new angle to explore to spark an off-season discussion. Actually, these are probably the best times for discussions because there really aren’t any right answers—the games haven’t been played yet.”

Favorite Wizards blog besides your own: is outstanding. Kyle Weidie has really been able to establish a niche, and he might be one of the most talented writers in the NBA blogosphere. His perspective about the team is often different from mine, so I’ve been able to evaluate a lot of my own biases from talking with him. Full disclosure: I cohost a Wizards podcast called the Dagger Report with Kyle every week.”

Next week, New Columbia Heights blogger Andrew Wiseman talks about what’s new in his neck of the woods. Come back for his favorite Columbia Heights bars and restaurants and his take on the neighborhood’s shiny new development projects.

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