You never know whether Ernie Grunfeld is tactfully maneuvering a press conference or if he’s on autopilot … much like the way he captains his ship.
The Wizards team president said a lot during his season-ending media-speak session on Tuesday afternoon, and below are some various quotes, presented with little context, but in the total spirit of Grunfeldisms.
By now, most people will agree that Bradley Beal is a keeper—and that isn’t just because his agent, Mark Bartelstein, recently said, “I’m sure lots of teams would like to have Brad, but the Wizards have absolutely no intention of trading him.”
But that’s not all that interesting. Beal was projected to be a “keeper,” and was expected to produce as the No. 3 pick in the last draft. And he has. Beal was named December’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month, and, over the last three games, the former Florida Gator has averaged a plus/minus of plus-10.7 per game, along with 18.3 points (63.6% from 3-point range), 3.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
What’s more interesting is the reason why he’s been able to get better game by game, even before John Wall made his season debut. The easy analysis would be to say, ‘Oh, the game is finally slowing down for Beal.’ He even said so himself after Monday night’s 29-point thumping of the Orlando Magic: “The game’s starting to slow down for me more, and I’ve gained a lot more confidence.”
This was the answer Washington season ticket holder and Goodman League head honcho, Miles Rawls, said just moments before tip-off between the Wizards and Heat on Tuesday evening. I had asked the iconic D.C. hoops personality for his prediction of the matchup, one where the Wizards were 10.5-point underdogs and plus-475 payout on the money line.
Rawls was not the only one with confidence that the NBA’s current cellar dwellers could defeat the defending champs at the Verizon Center. Coach Randy Wittman delivered an inspirational message to his team before the game, and he discussed it afterwards.
“They only people that really think you have a chance tonight is us here right in this room,” Wittman remembered telling his team in the locker room.
He then spoke directly to the media attending his press conference: “You guys don’t. The outside didn’t. I said we need to have a statement game, we haven’t had a statement game … what better of an opportunity to come play in front of the fans that we knew were going to be here and to beat this team. And they took it to heart.”
Andray Blatche is doing good things in Brooklyn. So good that trolling the Wizards is easy. So good that he knows exactly when he will be ready to talk about a new contract.
We’re all too familiar with the fact that the Washington Wizards used the amnesty provision on Blatche this past summer. That no other NBA team made a full, or even partial, waiver claim on his contract. That Blatche signed with the Brooklyn Nets for a one-year, non-guaranteed deal worth about $850,000. That the Wizards are essentially on the hook for the remainder of Blatche’s amnestied contract, about $23 million over three years. Essentially.
So about the new contract that Blatche might want due to his good play with the Nets? Well, it’s too early to talk about all of it, he says. But, there will be a good time to discuss. We’ll let theNew York Daily Newstake it away:
In an interview with the Daily News, the Nets center said he’d like to re-sign as a free agent next summer but understandably couldn’t commit to anything so early in the season.
[Ed. Note: With the NBA basketball season just around the corner, TAI's Czech correspondent, Lukas Kuba, provides an update/translation of a recent interview that Jan Vesely gave to sport.ihned.cz. —Kyle W.]
“Tutoring session on tie knots.” -@JanVesely24 via Instagram
After one NBA season of not being able to live together in the same city, Jan Vesely now lives in Washington, D.C. with his fiancee, Eva Kodouskova. When asked about their free time activities, he says that they usually go to a restaurant or one of the numerous Washington museums. Jan says that sometimes people recognize him on the street, but not very often. And what about going to movies? In D.C., Vesely says he went to see a movie just once because he’s not too impressed with the ‘American cinema system,’ where a person does not buy tickets for particular seats. “I came late and had to sit in a bad seat,” he says.
[Ed. Note: A recent tweet from Vesely indicated that he an Eva enjoyed a meal at Bistro Bohem, located on Florida Avenue near the U Street corridor. —KW]
No need denying that Jan Vesely’s Czech language interviews are a treat for me (and hopefully for you, too). He always seems to share lots of golden nuggets from the world of Wizards. In a lengthy June interview with Czech Basketmag titled, “Boozer always he blows me away,” there was a lot of the same stuff Vesely already mentioned in earlier interviews after the regular season. But, it’s not a Jan Czech interview without some money quotes (also seen via my @Luke_Mellow Twitter feed):
“I’d like to play the SF, and when I’ll work hard then I hope in that return [to SF from PF].” #vesely
#1) Throw out this ‘Jan Vesely was the 6th pick, he wouldn’t be picked there in a re-draft’ stuff. You know what? He’s on the team now, and he’s displayed more than enough signs that he will be A-OK one day, capable of diminishing your concerns about mere draft position over time.
#2) Yea, he can’t shoot. And he’ll never be able to unless he doesn’t develop some confidence, which is why Wizards coach Randy Wittman wants him to shoot, and which is why Coach Witt will yell at young Janny when he passes up an open shot… to keep him in Czech. (See what I did there?) Let’s just watch…
Most of us saw where Kobe Bryant took time to rip Kwame Brown during a guest lecture to a college class at the University of California-Santa Barbara the other day, video embedded above and linked here if you missed it. In calling out the transgressions of inglorious bastard teammates Brown and Smush Parker, Bryant took pause to mention that he would say the same thing to the faces of both players; this after eliciting chuckles from the class en masse by mere mention of Brown’s name. Surely Kobe realizes that every comment he makes, every action, is susceptible to fast dissemination amongst the Internets. He knew Kwame would hear his dig.
People are always ready to rip Kwame, myself included. Almost as readily, people blame Michael Jordan or Doug Collins for all that went wrong with him at the onset of his career with the Washington Wizards as the NBA’s 2001 No. 1 overall draft pick. Both men have admitted that they would’ve handled the 18-year old differently, Collins at various times even admitting that their scouting was duped by Kwame’s accelerated physique and confident persona in a pre-draft workout where he bested, and beasted, high school contemporary Tyson Chandler. Jordan, now majority owner of the Bobcats, attempted to swallow his mistakes last summer by reuniting with Kwame in Charlotte.
The highlights and good times from John Wall’s rookie year represent the icing on the big ol’ cookie (or cake) that vested hype-machine types gladly diddle themselves to while resting assured on pillows encased with media & PR mints at night. Fodder for rainbows, puppy dogs and ice cream, but relatively useless to Wall himself. He doesn’t seem to take comfort in digits and puffery. Rather, he’s the sort wired to be driven toward success by frustration and failure, i.e., he’s a non-believer in the injury/rebuilding excuses readily applied by some around him. Nor does he appear to possess a complacency or apathy toward loving the game of basketball as some of his teammates have so often conveyed. He actually appears to despise such attitudes. At least this is what dime-store pessimists such as myself optimistically believe.
No, it’s not ‘John Wall Wednesday’ here at Truth About It.net, although there could be a subsequent related post coming this evening that would make it three in a row about the 2010 No. 1 NBA Draft pick. But, you see, no biggie when it comes to the franchise pillar. Wall’s inaugural season has barely been put to rest as his NBA future looks to gainfully go from embryonic to full-on fetus mode. And then who knows… a crawl, walk or sprint into the postseason seems inevitable. Rookie year perspective is a prerequisite, yet no one will know how to properly assess Wall’s 2010-11 until a couple/several years from now. In the meantime, let’s take a videographic look at the experience of the rookie’s emotions through his carefully considered and well-trained quotes to the media covering his team, the Washington Wizards. Dissect this one way now and be ready to reconsider down the road.
Or wait … I should actually say that we saw this coming.
Actually, let’s take a step back for a second. John Wall, in his individual effort, will not be affected by the players whom he is talking about in the quote you’re about to read, said to Comcast’s Chris Miller after a 117-94 loss to the 76ers in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. He’s too good for that, so don’t worry. But let’s read the quote anyway: Read more »