Talk is cheap, and perhaps so is reading. And in retrospect, all the electronic pixels and printed typeface in the world can be just as meaningless as spoken words, as they pertain to future promises and the game of basketball.
Thus, people will readily point out that this is at least the fourth consecutive year of corner-turning expectations for Andray Blatche. Some have given up on him. Some continue to have hope. What’s evident is that he might finally break through toward a specific destination of achievement, or he won’t.
In his post lockout press conference, Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders mentioned that he and team VP of basketball administration Tommy Sheppard gave Blatche a book on leadership this summer, before the lockout. When asked about that book at training camp this past weekend, Blatche could neither remember the book’s title, nor much of the leadership advice it offered.
“I only read like half of it, because after a while, it was like, ‘OK, alright, I got the message,’” Blatche said with a sheepish grin on his face. He went on to talk about the standards of leading by example and making those around him better. This piggy-backed words from Blatche reflecting that he now has become tired of not being a leader, tired of being on a team more known for goofiness, and tired of playing losing basketball.
“Playing around haven’t gotten us no where,” Blatche said. “All the games is out. I’m 25-years old now, this is my seventh year in the league. This is my time for me to step up and try to have guys follow me on the path I want to go. And the path I want to go is winning… just the total opposite of last season.”
For what it’s worth, Saunders couldn’t remember the title of the book either.
“It’s not a matter of what you read, it’s what you come out of it with,” the coach said. “More than anything else, from our standpoint, it was going down there and letting him know that, for us, leadership for him was important. I think that’s something he’s taken to heart, and he’s trying to become a leader.”
New teammate Roger Mason Jr., who also played with Blatche on the Wizards from 2006 to 2008, seemed encouraged that Andray is heading down a better path. “I don’t want to jinx it, but the Andray Blatche I see right now is more mature, he understands his responsibility,” Mason said.
Leadership is just a word. It can be printed or said, but without supporting action, it doesn’t mean much. This is just a build-up to basketball, part of the process.
And the forgotten book? It’s ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You,” by John C. Maxwell. And one of those laws is the ‘Law of Process,’ meaning that growth into leadership is not a single event.
“Leadership develops daily, not in a day,” is the subtitle of Maxwell’s chapter on the law of process. What Blatche, his coaches, parents, friends, and fans of the Wizards are hoping for is that the buildup to a new day shows more substantial results tomorrow, and not in the distant future. Great leaders didn’t acquire their skills from literature, they simply showed others they were capable.