John Wall was waiting to grab a rebound during warmups before Washington’s game versus Orlando, and his face instantly lit up when he recognized Jay-Z’s voice over the loud speakers: ”Aw man, it is Big Pimpin’ Baby.”
Wall continued to sing verses of the Jay-Z hit single as he filed through the layup line, enticing smiles out of his teammates. John Wall was back where he wanted to be, and the mood of the team was noticeably lifted. This was a different scene than that of the Nick Young/JaVale McGee/Andray Blatche era, where jacking around reigned supreme in warm-ups and a level of seriousness never materialized when it mattered. Wall was chatting up Bradley Beal non-stop and the rookie could not contain his laughter. The future franchise core tossed each other alley-oops—Wall struggled converting some dunks on his “jiggly legs.” Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin followed Wall’s lead with impressive slams of their own. Later during warmups, Wall started playing around with Kevin Seraphin on the left wing, shaking the big man with a crossover. Both cracked up. Wall mocked Seraphin’s inability to stay on his feet.
Wall’s engaging personality is often hidden in the button-downed, risk-averse image he presents in media interviews. Spend any time around Wall and you see the happy-go-lucky attitude is real and genuine. He appears to know every elite basketball player and partakes in many pregame pleasantries with opponents. The Orlando game was no different, as he greeted Magic reserve guard Ish Smith at half court—both hail from North Carolina, and likely know each other from the hoop circuit in the Tar Heel state. As the national anthem approached, Wall’s roommate and best friend, Tyrone (Ty) Williams, came over for their pre-game conversation ritual.
Williams grew up with the dynamic point guard in Raleigh and, although not blood related, Wall call’s him his “brother.” Ty attends almost every home game and sits near the floor. Through Wall’s infamous club appearances (which certain bloggers passive aggressively concern troll), trouble and off-the-court drama has never surfaced in any capacity. This might seem trivial and not worthy of praise, but being a young, rich NBA player makes you a target when you are just doing a simple activity like being out socializing with your circle of friends. This can be difficult waters for famous hoopers to navigate in a world full of hanger-ons and distractions. Williams deserves credit for keeping Wall away from any negative publicity or troublesome situations. (If only Arenas and Blatche had similar peeps.)
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.”
[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 35, Washington Wizards vs Orlando Magic; contributors: Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend from the Phone Booth, with Rashad Mobley taking in the TV feed.]
[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 23, Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic; contributors: Adam McGinnis, John Converse Townsend and Kyle Weidie from behind the T.V.]
[NOTE: Truth About It.net 2011-12 Player Reviews continue, where we take a look at the past, present and future of those players who have touched the Wizards franchise during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. Now, we review a player who has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the Washington Wizards—Cartier Martin. TAI's Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend look back on Martin's 17 games in a lockout-shortened season. -Kyle W.]
The shutting down of Andray Blatche for “conditioning” meant less jeers being thrown about the Verizon Center, as the power forward has been infamously booed by the hometown crowd almost all season. Fans sometimes express displeasure for their team (or an individual) after a bad play or sequence, but the audible disgust for 7-Day Dray would start when he went to the scorer’s table to check in and again every time he touched the ball. It even seemed like the Wizards coaching staff would sneak him into the game during timeouts to avoid igniting the negative reaction. Wizards opponents indicated they had never seen such behavior by home fans, and many gave Blatche advice on how to deal with his unpopular aura. TAI’s John Converse Townsend even penned a compelling piece on how his own booing of Blatche as a fan seemed counter-intuitive.
This unfortunate storyline overshadowed the fact that there are actual opposing players that Wizards fans still heckle on a regular basis; the normal way crowds are supposed to do it.
Ex-Wizard Kwame Brown has been a target for years; Wizards fans of a certain age will never forget that he was a bust as a No. 1 overall draft pick. For being the playoff adversary to Agent Zero and the Wizards back in the mid-2000s, Lebron James is still lustily yelled at; his decision-quest from the Cavaliers to the Heat simply propelled how Wizards fans felt to mass audiences. Even the presence of Juwan Howard can still spark bad memories of him never living up to his egregious contract in Washington. And surprisingly, Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough has heard it from fans in the Phone Booth this season, which one would assume derives from his days at North Carolina and “Psycho T” being a relatively unlikable player in Maryland Terp country.
With 3:53 remaining in last Wednesday’s game, Orlando leading Washington 92-87, Jameer Nelson found Jason Richardson cutting toward the basket. Trevor Booker slid over from his man to cut off Richardson, putting both arms straight up and holding position on the right block, which forced Richardson to miss his shot. Booker then won the loose ball rebound battle with Dwight Howard; Richardson, frustrated by the miss, was called for a foul after hitting Booker on the arm. As Trevor ripped the ball away, his right leg inadvertently hit Richardson’s and forced him to fall on the ground.
The Magic guard popped off the ground and immediately got into the face of Booker. He wanted to verbally inform him of his displeasure from the accidental trip. The exchange escalated when Richardson tugged at Booker’s shorts, causing Booker to react by shoving his hands off of him. Richardson then lunged forward as the former Clemson standout stood his ground, apparently ready to throw down. Tensions eventually subsided and both players were assessed double technicals.
[We've posted this before, but why not again? ... Patrick Ewing enjoying a pre-game Pop Tart.]
On any given night, you can turn on SportsCenter and hear the names JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. McGee gets mentioned for his dazzling dunks and puzzling basketball decisions, and Howard, with his looming free agency sprinkled in with 20 point/20 rebound performances, is equally good ESPN fodder. Even as the Wizards and Magic prepare to face off for the third time this season, the names McGee and Howard are very much in the NBA news cycle. McGee was benched during the second half of last night’s game against Milwaukee, and trade rumors with Howard’s name seem to be picking up steam. To get you ready for that and much more, Eddy Rivera (@erivera7) from the Orlando Magic ESPN TrueHoop blog MagicBasketball.net, and both Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from Truth About It, will give you three answers to three questions…
#1) Who has the tougher coaching job the second half of the season: Stan Van Gundy, who will have to endure “The Dwight Howard Situation” much like George Karl had to do with Carmelo Anthony last year? Or Randy Wittman, who is the coach of 7-27 team that has no shot of even sniffing the playoffs?
Andray Blatche is a human centipede of wicked pixels.
Sure, he does things like goaltend free-throws… a plumb stupid mistake. However, his continued laziness is hard to ignore. It’s also hard to ignore the stated goals of toughness that Ted Leonsis keeps touting during the Wizards’ rebuilding process, and how Blatche is the antithesis of those goals. With a presence so counterintuitive to Leonsis’ vision, Blatche has rendered meaningless previous pixels of support from the franchise owner.
When it comes to Blatche, everyone from team management to coaches is all talk, no action, much like Blatche himself. Until otherwise, they are all peas in a pod, reflected in the murky waters of Blatche’s vastly inconsistent play. But wicked pixels that form words from the typing fingers of someone in the web world only goes so far. Video solidifies these points, so let’s watch some video.
Not sure how long the Wizards will allow John Wall to tolerate someone like Blatche running with him on the break… Or maybe it’s just that Orlando’s Ryan Anderson is a very intimidating guy. Either way, no guy Blatche’s size, no NBA power forward, no man who claims to want the ball more in the paint should ever pull up softly on the break like in the video below. Do you need me to say that this is not tough? Well, it isn’t. This happens in the first minute of last night’s contest.