The Night After The Wizards 2011-12 Season Opener:
The Day After The Night:
Andray Blatche just can’t help himself, literally, figuratively, and ways in between.
After the Wizards grabbing the mic to announce to a much-less-than-capacity Verizon Center crowd over the P.A. system:
“How y’all doing? This is your captain, Andray Blatche. On behalf of myself, my teammates, the whole Washington Wizards organization, we want to say we strongly appreciate y’all sticking around all summer. It’s been a long summer, and it’s a shortened season, but it’s going to be tough. And we’re going to need you guys, the best fans in the NBA, to be our sixth man. So in other words, let’s get this season started.”
Fairly good intentions (“best fans in the NBA” jokes aside; Blatche gets booed a lot by the paltry home crowds). Look, no one can question that Blatche is trying. He just doesn’t know how to try. So he continues to fall on his face while the franchise constantly running to defend him keeps looking silly in the process. After all, Ted Leonsis has only doled out one multi-year free agent contract in his brief tenure as team owner, to Blatche. This, of course, amongst other positive pixel puffery.
After the game, Blatche was equally putting on a show. He implored, to the media, mind you, that he wanted the ball more in the post.
“I need the ball in the paint to be effective,” he said, as seen in the first video above. “You can’t keep having me pick and pop and shooting jump shots. Give me the ball in the paint, that’s where I’m most effective at. I’ve been saying that since training camp.”
People have been saying Blatche should spend more time in the paint for years. Now he’s suddenly acting like it’s a part of his DNA. Again, Blatche thinks he’s saying the right things, he thinks he’s being helpful, but far from it. After all but shedding tears over the faux injustice, amongst ‘Look at me, I want to improve’ grandstanding, Blatche remained slumped in his chair after the media session ended. He seemed to stay in full uniform with intent, as if it would send a message of dedication. ‘Look, kids, he still wants to play!’
Blatche wasn’t really calling out his coach or teammates in saying that he wants to be in the post more on offense (a message he bumbled his way through on Twitter the next day, this after he ducked out a practice court side door to avoid the media… in true Gilbert Arenas fashion). Andray is just apt to say dumb, easily misconstrued things. Although, when you point out a disagreement with how you get the ball while also admitting that the play-calling is part of the Wizards’ ”traditional” offense, you’re fingering someone.
“His reputation has been for six years that he won’t go in the post, I guess, so I think he was frustrated, but he can be effective in the post,” said Saunders, down-playing the issue when asked about Blatche’s desires after practice the next day (also seen in the second video above). ”Him saying that he wants to go down there and not play 15-18 feet, that’s what we try to do. Most of the time, my four men are my post up type players.”
And about professing himself as team captain? More good-intentioned stupidity from Blatche. One, because Saunders, the day after, indicated that team captains would be determined on a rotating basis — whatever that means, perhaps the best course of action with a young team. Two, because Blatche clearly still doesn’t understand what it means to assume the role of team captain. (Hint: it doesn’t involve disregarding books on leadership that your coach and team management give you over the summer.)
Blatche is like a fast food restaurant. He’s not good for the system, but aims to be damn consistent in most any environment, continuously meeting low-set expectations. And we’re not even talking about his eating habits. What we are talking about is walking a thin line between sheer frustration and helpless sympathy for Blatche.
We can’t wholly blame Andray for his lack of perceptiveness and for trying in all the wrong ways. No, the blame also greatly falls on the system of cultivation around him that’s trying to sell the same old 99-cent hamburger like it’s going to suddenly turn into a ribeye steak. Andray hopes to have it his way, but he can’t even help himself. At this point, who can?