Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 54th game of the season at home against the Houston Rockets are TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) and guest Michael Pina (@MichaelVPina) who writes about the Rockets for Red94, an ESPN TrueHoop Network blog.
Wizards Starters (16-37):
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Nene, Emeka Okafor
If it weren’t for the NBA lockout, I probably would’ve watched last night’s exhibition basketball game online just the same. It was either on a very small frame with fair resolution or via more disturbed pixels on a full computer screen blow up, but it was basketball. Basketball involving very good players. Namely, John Wall. It didn’t poetically go down-to-the-wire, but for brief spells, it was enjoyable to watch, even on that small screen streaming from the website of www.wkyt.com television station.
The Dominican Republic national team, coached by University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari, beat a team assembled of former UK disciples who are now locked-out NBAers 106-88 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Confusing connections? Certainly.
The Pros, a team name eligible to be sponsored by Bud Light in a college atmosphere, featured Wall, his former UK teammates Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins, along with Rajon Rondo, Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, and Nazr Mohammed. They started off with a burst of over-excelled activity, perhaps due to lockout inactivity. They’ve all played in other summertime Pro-AMs, but none of them like this, on a stage against legit, more consistent competition and in front of 24,000. Their desire to give the Rupp crowd a show was clear, but still with knowledge that it wasn’t going to be like their other individual forays into summer hoops, highlights of which courtesy of YouTube mix-videos.
The Dominican Republic team featured some pros themselves — Francisco Garcia, Al Horford, along with another guard familiar with Kentucky, Edgar Sosa, courtesy of time spent playing at the University of Louisville, with Garcia — and they didn’t come to tool around. The D.R. team had been working hard under Calipari’s tutelage for the last two weeks in Lexington. They preparing for international competition at the FIBA Americas tournament set to start in Argentina at the end of August.
One of the more unique experiences I’ve had in my three short years of covering the Washington Wizards came during the 2008-2009 season. Eddie Jordan had been fired, Ed Tapscott was the interim head coach, Gilbert Arenas was out for the majority of the season with a knee, and that all added up to a dismal 19-63 record. But the locker room dynamic was fascinating to watch, particularly after a loss.
During his post-game press conferences, Coach Tapscott’s comments did not focus on whether the Wizards won or lost, but he focused on who played well, how hard his team fought, and the lessons that could be learned. I did not know whether it was Tapscott’s demeanor, or if he was taking that stance because he knew his time as Wizards head coach was temporary. I just knew he preferred the diplomatic approach as opposed to, say a Flip Saunders, who is much more pointed with his comments.
Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Deshawn Stevenson were the veterans of the locker room that season, and I always respected how they carried themselves after a loss. They were somber, angry and frustrated, but most of the time they would answer all questions thrown at them. It was clear they really did not want to talk to the media, but they understood it was their duty as professionals. It was also obvious that all of the losing was taking a toll.
Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Dominic McGuire (I would include JaVale McGee, but he was relatively mute during his rookie year) were the youngsters of the team, and their collective attitude in defeat came in stark contrast to the veterans. By the time the media hit the locker room, they would be laughing, smiling, comparing attire and having a good time. I did not know whether they simply didn’t care about the mounting losses, or if they just had the ability to quickly move on and not dwell on them. I just knew that on certain nights, the veterans were visibly upset that the entire locker room wasn’t as affected by the losses as they were.
By now you’re aware of a report out of HoopsWorld that the Wizards are investigating trades involving Andray Blatche and/or JaVale McGee. Alex Kennedy writes:
“After suspending Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee one game for an altercation outside of a club, league sources say that the Washington Wizards will consider trading either Blatche or McGee in the coming weeks. The team will gauge interest around the league and after shopping the players, decision whether or not a trade would be the right move for the franchise.”
Of course, several outlets took this to mean such maneuvers by the Wizards were spawned as a result of the fight between Blatche and McGee (thanks to Kennedy’s wording). “In wake of fight, Wizards to gauge trade value of Blatche, McGee,” went one headline from Pro Basketball Talk; “Washington Wizards Shopping Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee After Altercation,” went another from the infamous Bleacher Report.