As many (wicked) pixels about Andray Blatche that I have written and produced, I wasn’t exactly comfortable with hearing him booed Friday night as the Wizards handled the Brooklyn Nets in every way possible on the basketball court. And I was especially uneasy about the “An-dray Sucks!” chants at the end of the game. Just a little. It was all too evident from my position behind the television screen. Imagine if the Verizon Center were more fully attended. (If you can believe team-reported attendance figures—the biggest farce in professional sports—the VC was 96.6 percent full on Friday night.)
But of course, there I was. Happy to see “Baltche” miss dunks, even if the carnage did make me want to avert my eyes. Almost. There I was, content to see Blatche miss free throws (four in a row at one point late in the third quarter). There’s just something about Blatche being Blatche. Still, it’s hard to digest the comfort food via the guy who, almost purposely, never fulfilled his potential doing the same deeds as a Wizard.
The topic of booing Blatche became fodder for Saturday morning conversation with the future wifey. I suddenly found myself on the side of defending the boos.
“It’s sports.” “It comes with the territory of getting paid millions.” “Life—competition—needs villains.”
Or, as former Wizard Roger Mason put it via an introspective on booing Blatche by TAI’s John Converse Townsend in January of 2012: “Hey look, these fans pay a lot of money to come see the team play, they have a right to boo or do whatever they want to do.”
The future wifey likened Blatche to an ex-girlfriend. Get over it, she said. I countered with the idea of a woman done wrong; her friends will stare ice daggers at that man for the duration of his existence. The conversation went nowhere. Just like the act of booing Blatche.
“Human nature is a bitch,” said Randy Wittman a week ago before his team faced the L.A. Clippers. Yessir it is. And as the human nature manager for the Washington Wizards, Wittman’s perpetual task—the same tasked asked of all coaches—is compensating for players’ motivation … or lack of it. Right now, Chris Singleton’s human nature is getting another chance, and succeeding, while Jordan Crawford’s human nature can’t even sit at the table to eat.
No one could ever successfully manage the bitch in Andray Blatche’s human nature. A lot of decent men tried. Ernie Grunfeld, Eddie Jordan, Ed Tapscott, Flip Saunders, Randy Wittman, Ted Leonsis—all of his bosses since Blatche was drafted out of high school. There were small successes, huge set-backs, and never one significant step forward. Blatche’s human nature is applied somewhere else now (while Leonsis still pays him).
The Wizards played their most excitable game of the season on Friday night in their 89-74 win over Brooklyn—the team is looking damn good, most doubters can’t deny. Not that Leonsis should pixel gloat just yet. Act like you’ve been there before.
But if fans in the Verizon Center, on this particular night, want to celebrate what appears to be the solution—at least the closest one they’ve had in a while, John Wall—while booing the demise of a past problem, Anday Blatche, then well, that’s only human nature. But eventually, they should get over it.
[Baltche misses dunk, falls.]