Ex-Wizards Head To NBA Finals, Some With Two Hats
[Ex-Wizard Brendan Haywood is heading to the NBA Finals, and now he's finagled two hats to prove it.]
The last ex-Washington Wizard* to appear in the NBA Finals used to be Larry Hughes. Not anymore. Hughes, a Wizard from 2002 to 2005, played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in game one of the 2007 Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. He scored two points on 1-5 shooting with two fouls and three rebounds in 23 minutes; the Cavs lost 85-76. In game two, Hughes missed all five of his field-goal attempts, didn’t score a point, and tallied two turnovers, two assists and two rebounds in 20 minutes; the Cavs lost 103-92. Dealing with foot issues pertaining to his plantar fascia, Hughes didn’t play in games three and four as the Spurs swept LeBron James in his only Finals appearance to date.
Now that the Dallas Mavericks have beaten the Oklahoma City Thunder for the right to represent the West in the 2011 Finals, three more ex-Wizards will be playing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Antawn Jamison, who always kept a picture of the NBA’s championship trophy in his Wizards locker (now it’s John Wall’s locker), is probably really happy for his ex-teammates, but most certainly in a ‘I wish it were me’ kind of way. And if you want even more of a storyline as Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler (okay fine, I’ll include Brian Cardinal, another former Wizard (2002-03)… so, four ex-Wizards), head to championship holy ground with Dallas, consider all the history those three most recent Wizards have with one potential opponent, the very same LeBron James, this time of the Miami Heat.
All but calling him a cry-baby, Haywood once led to LeBron being labelled “They trying to hurt me” James. With Stevenson, you can pretty much begin and end with him calling James overrated, and then Jay-Z coming to James’ rescue with a blown whistle on a diss track. Oh, and there’s also that back-and-forth gossip girl thing between the Stevenson and James, thanks to Drew Gooden’s loose lips. So yea, DeShawn and LeBron pretty much hate each other. Butler mostly aimed to remain neutral through the familiarity the Wizards used to have with James’ Cavaliers via first round playoff matchups in three straight seasons from 2006 to 2008.
But the Heat are not there quite yet, they have to finish off the Chicago Bulls first. The Dallas Mavericks are your Western Conference champs. So congrats goes to Stevenson for the duration of his NBA career, going from potential high school-to-pros bust to staying relevant with hustle work, defense and knowing his role (for the most part … surely DeShawn’s collection of busted threes don’t fall into an “ideal” role; he was 5-21 from deep in five games versus the Thunder). Congrats goes to Haywood, the warmth of whose body eats up a majority of his 6-year, $55 million compensation. But hey, Dallas wasn’t going to get to the Finals without two serviceable bigs in Haywood and Tyson Chandler. Congrats goes to Butler, currently recovering from knee surgery, for being around — decent work in the regular season, and thanks for your positive attitude, but let’s be honest, the Mavericks are probably better if you remain out due to injury for the rest of the season (unless someone else gets hurt). And finally, congrats goes to Cardinal. Thanks to Trey Kerby, you will always be the most dad looking dad in the current NBA.
[*NOTE: The last ex-Washington Bullet to appear in the NBA Finals would be Rasheed Wallace with the Boston Celtics in 2010.]