The Wizards, from the elbow
The last 15 minutes of Wizards practice were open to the media today.
(The Wizards and their unstoppable team of PR Wizards did a swell job of turning out media members today. Really swell. Counting the people who were there to cover the horse show and who were freelancing for other publications, The Washington Post had seven bodies inside the phone booth. Seven! And people wonder why our industry is struggling.
Anyhow, the PR push ensured a big crowd when the team announced that assistant coach Mike O'Koren was being promoted to associate head coach. As an obedient media member, I will hereby link to the semi-official press release about the announcement. As a non-obedient media member, I will point out that the Redskins seem to have a whole bunch of associate head coaches--more than they have players, I believe--and that hasn't necessarily worked out so well for them.)
Back to practice. The last 15 minutes of practice were open, although with Gilbert and Antawn Jamison both off the court, some of the drama was missing. The highlight came when the bigs lined up at the left elbow (Cal Booth, Etan Thomas, James Lang, Brendan Haywood) and the littles lined up at the right elbow (Antonio Daniels, Caron Butler, Roger Mason, DeShawn Stevenson, Donell Taylor) and the two groups squared off in a shooting contest. First team to 12 would win.
The highlight, for me, was Brendan Haywood's airball.
The fast-and-furious shooting action made it virtually impossible to give a play-by-play, but I can tell you that the bigs drew ahead early, seized a lead of I believe 11-9 after consecutive makes by Thomas, Lang and Haywood, and then won it on another make by Thomas. The final score was either 12-10 or 12-9. Eddie Jordan told the losers to give him 10 push-ups, and James Lang dropped to the floor. "Not you," someone shouted.
This was apparently the second time today the bigs had topped the littles in a shooting contest. Either the Wiz have some great-shooting bigs, or they should be a little bit worried.
(Apropos of nothing, Michael Ruffin, who's been nursing a sore foot, and who makes Bill Belichick seem about as chatty as Paris Hilton, walked by official beat writer Ivan Carter and me after practice.
"How's the foot?" Ivan asked.
"Getting better," Ruffin said and kept on cruising.
"Ruff, a man of few words," Ivan said. "That was actually a long interview with Ruff. I almost had to cut him off."
Later, Ruff, approached a bunch of media members in the hallway, and Ivan bragged that he would elicit an even longer response.
"All right Ruff," Ivan said.
"All right, see ya later," Ruff said.
Ivan looked at us and smiled.
"60 Minutes has nothing on me," he said.)
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