Andray Blatche's Trip to Best Buy
Yes, that's right, the Wiz don't only spend their preseason going to Morton's for steaks. They also go to Best Buy. Well, at least the second-year-youngsters-who-are-still-considered-rookies do. The vets get to send Blatche on fun little missions--buying food or socks, for example--and last night his mission was to retrieve six copies of the new Lil' Wayne and Baby (aka Birdman) album that Blatche claimed was released yesterday, but which I have some doubts about. He planned to drive 20 minutes to Best Buy to make the purchases after last night's practice. Caron, Gilbert and 'Tawn had each ordered a copy via Blatche. Gentlemen, might I introduce you to iTunes? It's part of this wacky new thing known as the Internet. Once you start buying your music online, you will have freed The Errand Boy to go buy you more socks.
(Socks? He buys them food and socks? "Yo Blatche, could you go get me some Fritos, a few Gatorades and a pair of Rockport Birdseye blue argyle cushion dress, size 18? Plus some Dentyne?")
(Undrafted free agent Mike Hall should be hit with the rookie hazing stuff, but he's almost two years older than Blatche, plus he's not going through his first preseason camp in his second season because of an untimely bullet wound, so he's been spared the Blatche treatment. "He's kind of getting the most of it right now," Hall said of Blatche, pointing out that his own rites of passage were mostly limited to racking the balls after practice and hearing a lot of this: "Young fella, you don't know anything about the League.")
We also learned that the Wizards have already found a replacement for Jared Jeffries. His name is Calvin Booth. In offensive run-throughs last night, Booth missed a dunk and two other attempts from within about three feet of the hoop. Bear in mind, there were NO DEFENDERS on the floor during these drills. So all you fans who wondered who would provide Jeffries's seemingly inimitable missed freebies, wonder no longer.
Other things we learned from last night's practice:
1) Guest coach Kevin O'Neill ran much of the session, working on some offensive drills while wearing what were by far the least shiny sneakers on the court.
2) Michael Ruffin practiced in a long-sleeve t-shirt, which seemed odd, unless he was chilly.
3) Blatche doesn't like NBA Live '07; he thinks it's "up-tight and fake." So he still plays '06, in which his favorite player is
Andray Blatche. Although Real Blatche has to boost up the Virtual Blatche's skill levels. ("Give me a better jump shot, some more handle and some more speed," he explained.)
4) Mike Hall said he had been talked out of the D League this summer and was planning on doing the overseas thing when the Wizards called. "So I've got one more shot at it," he said. "I just know that they like defensive intensity and people that do the little things and that's what I enjoy doing, so hopefully it'll be enough...Great opportunity. Great people. It's good to see. From the superstar to the last man on the bench, they're all good guys and working hard. It's just a franchise I'd love to be a part of."
5) Mike Hall on the GW team he left behind (this is an educated opinion, since he's been over to Foggy Bottom several times to see some of the new guys play: "They're young, but Carl [Elliott] and Maureece [Rice], they should both average 20 apiece. I'm serious. They've got some young guys who can play; we'll just see how fast they learn."
6) Roger Mason Jr. spent his last day before the preseason in the first row at FedEx Field watching his favorite team play. Not his favorite NFL team, but his favorite team. See, he grew up a rabid Skins fan, going to games at RFK with his dad. He was also a Bullets fan, but when I pressed him he said he was more passionate about the Skins. For the record, he doesn't think the offensive explosion is a fluke, he predicts a run deep into the playoffs, and The Moss Man is his favorite player.
7) GMEG (that's Ernie) told me that Ovie (that's Ovechkin) regularly watches the Wiz practice at the VC (that's the phone booth). Ovie's mom was a basketball Olympian, and GMEG said Ovie clearly knows what's going on during drills. Although once, he saw a four-on-four drill and pointed out that only eight men were on the court. Btw, I fully expect Ovie to win a car by making a half-court shot this season. (GMEG pointed out that Mama Ovechkin won her first basketball gold at the 1976 Games, when GMEG was part of the U.S. gold-medal winning men's team. See, all of D.C. Sports really is one big family.)
8) The Wizards actually did not bring their floor down from VC. They brought the Mystics' floor. Their floor is off being stripped, repaired and repainted somewhere in Charles County. The floor plan sort of came from VP or basketball administration Tommy Sheppard, who figured anything the team could do to preserve some of its balky knees would be a good thing. The floor (and baskets) came down on two flatbed trucks on Sunday, was assembled in about two hours on Monday and will be sent back to D.C. on Saturday night. But Tommy was very much insistent that the floor plan should not reflect badly on the Siegel Center, that the Wizards love the facility, that they'll come down here for camp for as long as VCU will let them, etc. So no offense to anyone.
9) Still, to fulfill my duties, I repeatedly jumped up and down on the gym floor, and then on the raised Wizards/Mystics floor. Big difference. Tons more give in the raised floor. Soft and fluffy. No, really, it's noticeably springier. I think I could extend my career by at least two years if I typed everything from a raised floor.
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