One of the more memorable catchphrases from the past few years was heard when President Barack Obama announced, “Change has come to Washington,” after winning the 2008 presidential election. The phrase was catchy, rejuvenating and a source of inspiration for many desperately seeking signs of hope.

After the Washington Wizards’ selection of Kentucky point guard John Wall during Thursday’s NBA Draft, I couldn’t help replaying the same axiom in my head over and over again. The sports scene around the city of Washington hasn’t exactly been pretty lately but the drafting of Wall now puts another brush stroke down on a developing canvas.

Already armed with arguably the best hockey player in the world in Alex Ovechkin, the hottest pitcher in the world in Stephen Strasburg and one of the best quarterbacks in the world in Donovan McNabb, the selection of Wall successfully concludes a new circle of star power around the District.

Wall’s addition now gives Washington four of the most recognizable athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB, a claim usually reserved for the New Yorks, Los Angeleses and Chicagoes of the globe.

Ovechkin and the newly acquired McNabb are already proven stars in their respected fields. The jury is still out on Strasburg although he’s been breathtaking in his two-week stint so far in the league. While Wall hasn’t even made a professional jumpshot yet, the developing superstar has taken the basketball world by storm over the past few seasons through elite athleticism and surprising maturity. His ascension to the top of his draft class isn’t a guarantee he’ll be a certified superstar, but it is a hint at his seemingly bright and limitless future.

One of the best periods for the classic optimistic sports fan is the offseason: where every team has a chance at believing next year is their year. The Wizards won’t be expected to sport any championship apparel after next season but plugging in talented youngsters is enough to keep fans tuned in.

For years now we’ve been tuning in to watch larger market teams dominate sports headlines. If it’s not a team from New York then it’s a team from California. If it’s not a team from Chicago then it’s a team from Boston hoisting trophies and claiming excellence. For a city that’s home to the president, serves as the nation’s capital and is one of the premiere tourist destinations in all of the U.S., the sporting scene is the only thing keeping Washington outside the major spotlight.

But now with four headliners in each of the four major sports, things are about to change.

Finally, change has come to Washington.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO