[Andray Blatche sends a message with his actions.]
[UPDATE: The supposed skirmish between Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee was originally denoted as "simply a disagreement between teammates," by Wizards team officials.
On Saturday night, team president Ernie Grunfeld released a statement: "After further investigation into an incident on Thursday night, we concluded that Andray and JaVale conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner. As a result, both players will be suspended for tomorrow’s game at San Antonio."
So that is that and we move on.]
Flip Saunders’ now infamous words last season still haunt. “Don’t think it can’t get any worse because it can,” he said, on more than one occasion.
Thinking back to this exact time last year, on Christmas Eve, I was in a car on my way from the city parts of D.C. to the suburb parts of Maryland to spend a couple holiday days with my girlfriend’s family. TAI’s Adam McGinnis sent me a text message en route … reports had surfaced that a gun had been found in Gilbert Arenas’ locker room and that the team was investigating the incident. Arenas would go on to tell the bold-faced lie that he brought guns into the workplace to get them away from his children, additional lies and their resulting chaos flied out of control from that point.
At the time, Saunders had already used his “don’t think it can’t get any worse” phrase to describe the season’s disturbances, and he would use it again several days later to describe poor effort against the Oklahoma Thunder in the last game of 2009 — after initial reports of Arenas’ guns surfaced, but before the shit hit the fan when an inaccurate, but closer to the truth, story from the New York Post hit newsstands on New Year’s Day 2010.
Now, 12 months later, the Wizards franchise still cannot find themselves spending the night before Christmas quiet as kept. Reports have surfaced via multiple parties that Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee got into an altercation with each other outside of a D.C. nightclub in the wee hours of last Thursday night and into Friday morning. We’ll go with the report from the Washington Post’s Michael Lee since he has the most sources and insight to what happened:
Witnesses have said that the players were screaming expletives at each other, but two league sources added that Blatche and McGee also exchanged several punches at the Shadow Room in Northwest Washington.
A Wizards spokesman released a statement late Friday that read, “The team looked into the matter earlier today and determined it was simply a disagreement between teammates.”
Yes, teammates occasionally get into disagreements, even fisticuffs. Probably happens in practice more than we know. Boys will be boys. But it doesn’t always happen in public venues. And at some point, lines have to be drawn. At some point, you have to say, ‘Why is all of this going on under Ernie Grunfeld’s watch?’
No, Grunfeld isn’t responsible what NBA millionaires do with their free time, but he is responsible for extending the contract of Blatche last summer, one who seems caught in perpetual immaturity. Blatche parties, parties some more, and parties some more. He got shot in an attempted car-jacking attempt before his rookie season, purportedly because while out at a club, some ladies of the night targeted him as a mark for whatever they and their cohorts had in mind. You also may recall the time Blatche threw an ‘End of the Season’ party before the actual end of the season.
Nothing wrong with partying if you can handle it — I like to go out myself and partake in fun — but do you think a guy like Blatche can “handle” it? Doesn’t seem likely. Caron Butler was often seen on the scene, but he never seemed to get in trouble.
As a compartmentalized incident, McGee and Blatche coming to blows at the club would be something you “address internally” and move past. But this isn’t a single transgression. This represents the same pattern of behavior cultivated by team management’s unwillingness to ever make Arenas culpable for his actions. Now, this incident is certainly not “worse” than guns in the locker room, but it is part of a disappointing pattern nonetheless.
ESPN’s Marc Stein recently Tweeted:
Even before McGee tiff via @MrMichaelLee, Wiz said to be disappointed w/Blatche since extension and have discussed trying to trade Blatche
Sounds like splendid planning, and timing. Again, why do things like this happen under Grunfeld’s watch? From new ownership to player trades, the rebuilding of the Washington Wizards has made waves at the top level and at the bottom … perhaps it’s time to address that middle part.