“Drama, thy name is the Washington Wizards,” began a post by Joanne C. Gerstner on Off the Dribble, the New York Times’ NBA blog. The post is also titled, “Wizards Drama Continues.”
Drama again? This team certainly doesn’t need any more drama after all the unfathomable events of this season. What exactly is this drama that the NY Times speaks of?
A bizarre season already marred by the Gilbert Arenas gun incident took another ugly turn when coach Flip Saunders and starting center Andray Blatche engaged in a war of words.
A war of words? Boy, sounds dangerous. But in reality, the incident was nothing more than an intense discussion between coach and player. Something that happens at any level of basketball.
The incident in dispute revolves around the exchange of words, among other extra-curricular activities, between Kevin Garnett and Blatche during last Sunday’s Wizards-Celtics game in Boston. Saunders, knowing Garnett, felt that Blatche should not have bought into Garnett’s bait. The coach’s point was that K.G.’s juices get flowing when his antics are acknowledged, as opposed to when he is ignored. Blatche’s defense to Flip was that he wanted to stand up for himself.
Both Michael Lee of the Washington Post and Mike Prada of Bullets Forever were present when Flip discussed the incident prior to Tuesday’s game against the Rockets.
“We talked, screamed, talked, did a little bit of everything,” Saunders said. “His argument was, ‘I’m not going to let anyone talked like that.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand one of the keys at this level is understanding your opponent. Understanding what they try to do and as much as anything, this game becomes mental.’
Saunders closed with this: “I told him that if you’re going to be the main guy, you have to be the guy who everyone else is looking to,” adding that Boston’s main leader, Paul Pierce, always keeps his cool on the court. He said Blatche eventually understood what he was saying after the long talk.
Again, war of words worthy of “dramatic” blog post titles or a discussion between player and coach that might happen on any team in the NBA from the Lakers to the Nets.
“Ain’t no drama at all between me and [Flip]. I don’t have a problem with him at all and he doesn’t have a problem with me. That’s just a whole bunch of he said, she said.” said Andray when I spoke with him about the incident before tonight’s game.
It seems that the Wizards are in a vulnerable position to be picked on and Gestner did just that. Sure, some might accuse me of defending the team I root for and blog about. In turn, I guess I can also accuse the author of making something out of nothing.
Speaking of Mr. Blatche. He’ll have an interesting match-up against Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks tonight. When asked about it, Saunders said that Atlanta’s whole front line, which includs Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia and Joe Smith, poses problems. Flip said that Blatche hasn’t played well in the season’s previous two games against the Hawks (both in Atlanta) because of their athleticism. The coach is really looking for Andray to bounce back from Tuesday’s game against the Rockets. He also said that you might see Al Thornton guard Smith at times.
Other Wizards-Hawks Pre-Game Bullets:
- Blatche actually had a decent game against the Hawks in the second meeting of the season. In 34 minutes off the bench, he scored 13 points on 5-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. Okay, maybe that line is not that great considering how much he played. In the January 13th meeting against the Hawks, Dray played around 17 minutes, scoring six points on 1-7 shooting while picking up five fouls. Ouch.
- Clearly with three games in three nights, the Wizards will have to play just about everyone over the next couple of days … perhaps even Alonzo Gee.
- Flip said that the assistant coaches will be in charge of making sure guys get proper rest … as in, he gets wrapped up in the game and the others coaches keep track of playing name. But this is usually the norm with teams.
- However, Flip said, “If we can get by without playing Earl [Boykins] tonight, we might not play Earl,” referring to the match-up problem Jamal Crawford poses.
- Shaun Livingston will be the back-up and Saunders said he might play anywhere from 18-26, 27 minutes, indicating that there shouldn’t be a limit on him from a health stand-point.