Living the Game At Fan Fest

On a sunny Sunday morning, in a parking lot turned carnival outside of Patriot Center, Wizards fans of all ages were seen smiling ear to ear surrounded by the game of basketball. It was an event that spoke directly to the Wizards’ 2010-11 season slogan of “Live The Game.”

The name of the event said it all, “Fan Fest”.

Here they were, thousands in attendance living the game of basketball, young fans surely enjoying one of their first memories, and parents introducing their kids to their heroes.

With basketball clinics, moon bounces, face painters and the presence of past greats, the event catered to fans of all ages and brought together the chance for families to bond over the Wizards and the game of basketball.

“This is great. I am just so glad that we were able to attend this,” said Jim who attended the event with his two boys Austin and Evan. “I heard this is the first time that they’ve done this and I hope they do it again. We are thrilled to be here and we are having a great time.”

For Stewart Small, the day offered a chance for him to re-live his childhood. With Bullets legends Bobby Dandridge, Kevin Grevey, Jeff Ruland and Gheorghe Muresan in attendance, Small was able to show his appreciation to the players that he grew up cheering as a child.

“These are guys that I grew up watching play,” said Small who sported a Wes Unseld throwback jersey. “I grew up just down the street from the Capital Centre so seeing Kevin Grevey and Bobby Dandridge it just brings back a lot of memories of those great teams. I became such a large sports fan because of them and what they meant to the city.”

While the event brought back memories for Small, for Toni Taffe, the event was a chance to try and turn her two children into Wizards’ fans. Taffe, who is originally not from the area, said it is events like these that will help make her kids fans of the local teams.

“It’s great. It’s a great thing to get the kids involved and interested in the local team,” said Taffe who also attended the event with her husband. “I think the kids are having a great time and they are looking forward to seeing the players scrimmage as well.”

As Taffe mentioned, the event also featured a 40 minute open scrimmage which was filled with highlights throughout. Whether it was John Wall making a 360 degree lay-up or Al Thornton hitting the game-winning shot with just 2.5 seconds left in the game, the scrimmage capped off one of the most exciting training camps in franchise history.

“I think we had a great experience at George Mason University, the administration was very accommodating and a great host for us. It was a tremendously successful week,” said Greg Bibb Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Washington Wizards. “We started off with a great “Midnight Tip-Off” event Monday night that went into Tuesday morning, a great week of practice and to end with this was great. The Fan Fest today was fantastic. The crowd was enthusiastic and I don’t think we could have asked for much more. All-in-all it was a great week at George Mason.”

The event was also a thrill for the players, especially for someone like John Wall who was going through their first training camp as a pro.

“It was great. They did a great job supporting us,” said Wall. “It was great to see the fans and we really thank them for coming.”