Seven Day Dray Travels Back In Time | Wizards Blog Truth About

Seven Day Dray Travels Back In Time

Updated: March 24, 2010

The Wizards media and PR team probably could not have envisioned a more opposite from ideal beginning to their push for Andray Blatche to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Amongst the usual pregame fare awaiting members of the media before Tuesday night’s Wizards-Bobcats game was the above flier touting the improved statistical merits of Blatche in bullet point fashion. The player responded with seven lackluster first quarter minutes before being permanently removed from the game, refusing to speak with coaches and refusing to play.

It was evident that something was going on when Flip Saunders checked Blatche out of the game at the 4:28 mark in the first. The player immediately went to the end of the bench, plopped himself in the furthest possible seat from the coaching staff and began to sulk. For the rest of the first half, Blatche would remain disconnected from his team and aloof during timeouts, looking anywhere except the huddle.

One would have expected Blatche to receive a pep talk from someone like Sam Cassell at halftime and come out ready to play alongside his teammates. No such luck. He continued to display the same poor body language for the rest of the game and never saw the floor again.

When asked why Blatche played so sparingly, Coach Saunders said, “Took him out of the game, we wanted to talk to him about not getting back on defense, not cross-checking where Mike [Miller] got handled. He didn’t want to hear it. Told him, ‘If you don’t want to come and talk, don’t want to be coached, you’re not going to play.’ We had coaches go up to him three different times, just said he didn’t want to play. Fifteen years, I’ve never seen anything like it. Never.”

In mid-January, after a home game against the New Orleans Hornets where Blatche did not get a shot attempt in 17 minutes of action, he was booted from the following practice and suspended one game for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Mike Jones later reported that Blatche had posted a status update on his FaceBook which said, “Never have I played a game and not had a shot attempt, they’ve got me all f—ed up,” and also that he was headed to Atlantic City.

Ok, so complaining about shots is not the way to go. But that hiccup, one of several in Blatche’s career, was long forgotten with his stellar play as a starter since the trade of Antawn Jamison to Cleveland. Well, until now. Blatche has taken the phrase, “act like you’ve been there before” much too far.

“Since we’ve started him, sixty-percent of the offense is run through him,” said Saunders. The coach continued, “No matter what. When a coach wants to teach you something and you think that you’re above that because you’ve played 16 games, good games? I mean, I had Kevin Garnett. That guy, you’d say one thing, and he’s up there, ‘What do you want coach?’ He wanted to get better every time. He never copped that type of attitude. I mean, that’s ridiculous. It really is. I am extremely disappointed. I am the most disappointed I’ve ever been in 15 years in a player.”

This incident comes less than a week removed from a story on NBA FanHouse where Blatche told Chris Tomasson that he was “underpaid,” and looking forward, if he were to become an All-Star next season, that he would feel like he’s “not being appreciated.” Quite a broad jump for a player who has disappointed the basketball gods of natural talent with inconsistent play, poor conditioning and lack of focus and effort for just about his entire career.

To leap to such a sense of entitlement above coaching instruction after barely a fifth of a season’s worth in good play is bad enough, but what’s worse than this latest embarrassment Blatche has served himself is that he quit on his teammates and was called out by his coach for doing so.

“He can be pissed at me or whatever, but you never leave your teammates out to dry like that, no matter what … especially when you’ve lost 11 games in a row and you’ve got a chance to win a game. Uncalled for.”

Then we got the prerequisite coaching comparison of sports teammates to soldiers in a ditch during wartime.

“That’s one of the greatest things about this sport. You look to the right, you look to the left, it’s being in the trenches with those players,” said Saunders. “Right now, those teammates, he’s lost their credibility. Being in the trenches, what’s going to happen when things go bad? You can’t do those things.”

Saunders said he doubted Blatche would play against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. Judging by Blatche’s previous penalty for acts gone relatively unnoticed, well, at least in comparison to Tuesday night, a suspension for a game, if not more, wouldn’t be surprising.

As expected, Blatche was not available for comment after the Wizards’ 95-86 loss to the Bobcats in overtime, as in he made a quick exit before reporters could get to the locker room. So not only did Andray leave his teammates high and dry on the court, but they were also forced to mostly answer questions about him after the game. As the video below shows, most, save for Nick Young, claimed ignorance of the matter or simply avoided comment all together.

Where does Blatche go from here? Well, that’s entirely up to him. His talent is not lost. The fact that deep down he’s a good kid is not lost. He’s just terribly misguided and has no sense of humility after years of toil and a few minutes of shine time. Blatche cannot afford to take such huge leaps back. He cannot afford to let his maturity level travel back in time. Lest the only way he’ll be underpaid is by continuing to lose game checks for his behavior.

{A bench scene without Andray Blatche. Rest assured, he’s not in the game nor at the scorer’s table. He is far to the left, unseen and unheard, hiding from the coaches behind Fabricio Oberto.}

[Photo Credits: Adam Douglas]

Flip Saunders’ Press Conference:

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.