What’s in nickname? Some are given by teammates or coaches. Some are given by friends and family. Some are given by fans. Some give themselves nicknames, although that method is certainly not very valid/credible.
Prior to a couple games before the season ended, I asked several Wizards about their nicknames, past and present. Not all players had fun with the question – i.e., JaVale McGee, who I’m sure, if members of the media were polled, would win the ‘Most Boring Interviewee’ award — but most willingly answered.
Watch the video below to find out who was called “Bucky” as a kid because of his buck teeth, who was given a certain nickname because he evidently walks like O.J. Simpson (whatever that means), and who isn’t willing to laugh at himself.
Doing some spring cleaning while watching the NBA playoffs on Sunday, I found myself ripping off covers of old ESPN The Magazines and trashing the rest, but not before quickly flipping through to make sure nothing was keep-able.
Times were different in December 2007. Well, not so much for Wizards fans. The turmoil was just getting started with the news that Gilbert Arenas would be having a second surgery on his knee just two weeks old. That December 3rd edition of ESPN The Magazine ironically had part of an NBA advertisement featuring a picture of Arenas and the words, “Where I’m back happens.”
In that same edition, which had Terrell Owens giving Tony Romo ‘bunny ears’ on the cover (Jason Witten was in the picture too), was the above ‘Got Milk?’ advertisement featuring two former Dallas Mavericks, coach Avery Johnson and player Josh Howard.
December 2007 represented some of the last days of NBA harmony for each Howard and Johnson. The Mavericks as a one-seed lost to the eight-seed Warriors the previous Spring, an ’06-07 season where Howard also represented the Mavs in the NBA All-Star game. But from there, it would go further downhill.
Skates. They can be roller or ice. But they can also happen on the basketball court.
“Putting someone on skates,” means to initiate an offensive move which makes the defender appear like he’s wearing one of the aforementioned … like he’s sliding (or rolling) in a direction beyond control.
Recently, Duke’s Josh McRoberts, who plays for the Indiana Pacers in the present day, gave young JaVale McGee, of the Washington Wizards, a pair of skates. With a couple hard dribbles to the right and a cross behind the back to the left, McRoberts sent McGee slippin’ and slidin’ all over the court. Let’s watch in GIF form.
Now, to McGee’s credit, the youngster immediately bounced back up and attempted to block McRoberts, but was ultimately unsuccessful, sending the Pacer to the free-throw line for two shots. That was McGee’s third foul in just under six minutes of action in the first quarter. He was subsequently summoned to the bench. Let’s look at another angle…
Who will get to the 2010 NBA Finals and who will win? That’s the question I posed to several Wizards on the last day of the season. One player wants to see Antawn Jamison get a ring. Another surprisingly chose the Orlando Magic to win it all because, he says, “Vince [Carter], he picks and chooses when he wants to play, but I think in the Finals he’s going to be up for it. I think he’s going to be the difference maker.” Interesting.
Out of 10 players polled, four ultimately picked the Cavaliers, three the Lakers, and as mentioned, one went with the Magic. Two players declined to make a choice. Time to watch…
The Wizards have a 10.3% chance of getting this guy with the top pick.
The NBA Draft Lottery
First, the Wizards lost this afternoon’s random drawing against the Golden State Warriors to break the tie for fourth place in the NBA Draft Lottery (first reported by Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area on Twitter).
What it means is that the worst the Wizards can pick, if they are jumped by three teams like last year, is 8th in the draft. Obviously the best the Wizards can do is 1st, or they can win 2nd or 3rd.
Closing a chapter with his last post-game press conference of the year, Flip Saunders was asked if there was any question in his mind about if he wanted to come back next season.
“No,” he straightly shot back. “I mean, this is maybe not what I signed up for originally when I came. But as all coaches, you love challenges. Through every adversity, through every challenge, there’s opportunity.”
Saunders and most of his coaching staff weren’t the only ones who didn’t sign up for such a disappointing season. There was one summertime free-agent acquisition who thought he was signing up for something completely different … Fabricio Oberto.
Before the final game of the season, Flip Saunders was queried a fair bit about a player, who in just 26 games (18 starts) since signing with the team in late-February, is the free-agent Wizards fans, and likely the organization, would most like to bring back. If you think Shaun Livingston is anything less than a keeper then you haven’t been watching. And that’s okay. But we’ll get to Livingston’s situation soon down the road.
In talking about what factors might influence Livingston, or any other free-agent for that matter, Saunders said, “When players have decisions, it’s based on money … money and opportunity. That’s pretty much what it is.”
That brings us to Mike Miller. He’s amongst the handful of the Wizards’ own free-agents that the team has some level of interest in retaining. The chances of keeping Miller may not be as high as Livingston, or even Josh Howard, in my opinion, but they are certainly higher than the chance of seeing Randy Foye in a Wizards uniform again. Basketball management thinks highly of Miller’s ability and character, and sources have indicated that Ernie Grunfeld refused to include Miller in trade proposals leading up to February’s deadline, including spurning strong interest from the Miami Heat.
Free-agency obviously depends on a number of factors. One, as Flip mentioned, is money. Priorities two and three might be money as well. But not necessarily for Miller. Even before the frustrations of 2009-10 started to show in his on-court emotions as the season wore down, it was easy to sense that Miller desperately desires to play for a winner. In 20 total career playoff games over five seasons (two with Orlando and three with Memphis), Miller has only two post-season wins to show, obviously never making it past the first round.
The last game of the Wizards season is here and I don’t know how I feel. I’m glad it’s almost over, but not glad that they are missing the playoffs, obviously. In terms of reflecting upon the season, that’s much too hard to do right now. So much to consider. But all of the players and coach Flip Saunders will be asked to do so after the game against the Pacers tonight. In lieu of what was rumored to be an exit-interview-esque, end-of-the-season media day on Thursday, the Wizards are cramming everything into the post-game media festivities. So, as you can imagine, even with bad team, albeit under abnormal circumstances, there are hoards of media at the Verizon Center this evening who haven’t sniffed the arena’s hardwood since the trade deadline. And prior to that, the Gilbert Arenas fiasco.
There will be plenty of questions about summertime plans, free-agent wishes for some, hopes for next year for others, and thoughts on what it was like to be a Washington Wizards in 2009-10 for all. To think about all that’s gone down this season is mind-boggling. Forty-one home games up, 41 down, and I’ve attended them all. Even though this has been epically horrible as a Wizards fan, I wouldn’t trade the privilege I’ve been afforded to cover the team and it’s personalities from up close for much. I can guarantee there will be plenty of looking-back on the past, in the future. But until then, I’m going to sit back and try to enjoy the last NBA basketball game I will attend until next October.
Back on January 16th, the Wizards beat the visiting Sacramento Kings and propelled their record to 13-26. The next day, a Sunday, the team would get a much needed day off before their match-up against the Portland Trailblazers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday.
Caron Butler in particular said he would enjoy having Sunday off because that meant he would be able to watch his “childhood hero,” Brett Favre, play one of his “good friends,” Tony Romo, in the NFL Playoffs.
Butler had trouble choosing who he would root for … although, his “shot out” to Romo (video below) seemed to indicate, in my opinion, that he was pulling for old man Favre. In any case, the Vikings won … surely Caron would have been happy regardless, and Redskins fans were definitely happy.
Remember last year’s crappy 19-win Wizards season? At least in those times, the anxiousness to get the season over was supported by hope for the future. Now, the future is very uncertain. Something to be said about ignorant bliss.
In any case, it seems that over the past 12 months, Andray Blatche has learned a valuable lesson: Don’t have an ‘End of the Season’ party before the actual end of the season. Yes, last year Blatche had his season ending celebration on Sunday April 12th at Josephine’s in DC. The Wizards had a home game on the 13th against the Raptors and concluded on the road in Boston on the 15th. They lost both games.
But this year is different. Blatche has grown up. He is now Seven-Day-Dray. And while a guy who works every day of the week certainly deserves to host a party, that same guy also now knows that it’s best to host said party after all the games are played.
Hence, tonight, after the Wizards go for their 26th win of the season at home against the Indiana Pacers, which would be a 37% improvement over last year’s win total, (imagine if that happened over the next three seasons), Blatche will host his kick-off to another summer of Dray at District in Adam’s Morgan (flier below).