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My Plan For Fixing the Wizards' Road Woes

Plus More on Caron's Tattoo and Caron's Fetish. Read on.

You can almost see Caron's tattoo here. (Joel Richardson)

1) After watching the Wiz stampede Dallas at home, my plan was this: What if, when the Wizards are on the road (record: 0-8) they would pretend like they were at home (record: 7-2)? I figured this was a question I should pose to the Wizards.

"That's not a question," Antonio Daniels said.

"Yeah, 'What if?'" I insisted.

"That's a statement. That's a statement," Daniels said.

"Ok, do you think it would help if you guys pretended that you were at home?" I asked.

"That's easier said than done, easier said than done," he answered. "We'll be all right. We'll be ok. This was a good win to get us to where we're going. We'll be all right."

In fact, road misery notwithstanding, the Wiz were feeling very peppy about tomorrow's game with the Knicks. I think this is going to be the one. Eddie Jordan said it would be fitting.

"You have to grasp the opportunity, you have to grasp the moment and say, 'Look this is it, New York City, a team that beat us, really probably started a bad feeling in us. And this is a great opportunity, where it began. Let's end it.' And I think that's what they'll do," he said. "If you're going to win on the road, what better place than in New York City? It's a great place to play, our guys feel good about themselves after that performance last night, and I don't think there is, as Al Maguire would say, a pink elephant in the back of our minds or anything like that, that's gonna disrupt us and distort our focus. I think we feel good, we're jacked up. I think we all believe, from the players to us, that it's the energy and the confidence and the aggressiveness and yet the discipline we need to win on the road that we got last night."

See, that sounds good, right? No change of routine necessary?

"Um, no, outside of bringing back Bill Russell," Eddie said. "We have a routine that got us to 45 wins and 42 wins, you know, and I don't think we're going to vary a lot from what we do. We're still going to go to shootarounds at the same time, we'll have our meetings the same time, not much you can change. You're not going to put curfew on guys. Not in New York, anyhow."

Plus, Eddie had another idea: "Maybe having Beyonce in the front row would help," he said.

Meanwhile, here are other answers.

Me: "Would pretending to be at home help?"

Jarvis Hayes: "I would hope so. Maybe we need to play in our home white uniforms on the road."

Me: "Could you guys pretend you're at home?"

Brendan Haywood: I can, but it's everybody. It's every guy that suits up that night playing a little bit better, getting a little bit more, because we need a road win. Being 0-and-the-road is terrible."

Me: "Is the food on the road ok?"

Brendan: "I don't know, I eat well on the road. Can't speak for everybody else, but I eat well on the road."

Me: "Are the hotels ok?"

Caron Butler: "Yeah, everything's cool. We've just got to come out and play with a lot of energy. We'll be fine."

2) While I was explaining to Etan about the Style section Shakespeare story, Brendan Haywood overheard me.

"What section are you from?" he asked.

"He does the blog, you read it all the time," PR genius Zack Bolno said, trying desperately to salvage my pride.

"I thought he said he was from the Style section," Brendan said.

Turns out that Brendan has a beef with Style. Just last week, the Reliable Source did one of those "Hey Isn't That" items featuring Brendan and his boys:

Brendan Haywood, celebrating his 27th birthday downtown at ESPN Zone Monday night. The Wizards center, in backward cap and long silver chain, rolled in with about 10 friends and devoured nachos, Cajun chicken and four kinds of wings, washed down with Hennessy-and-juice cocktails. No word whether rival Etan Thomas joined the party but guessing . . . not.

"I have a little birthday party," he said. "They were like, 'Brendan Haywood's chugging Hennessy-and-juice cocktails, maybe he's acting like a drunkard, on the night before a game.' I don't drink man. I was like, 'Who the hell wrote this?'.... I mean, one of my boys was drinking, but it was like, 'Brendan Haywood, him and his friends were chugging down Hennessy-and-juice all night.' If I had came out and played like garbage they would have been like he had alcohol...."

And then people started laughing at the concept of Brendan drinking, and pointing out that he would be tipsy after one drink. Apparently he really doesn't drink.

3) I hate to steal the Style section's thunder, so I won't say what Etan's favorite Shakespeare play is. I will, however, point out that he has audio versions of three Shakespeare plays in his iPod, along with a bunch of Shakespeare sonnets. I mean, my dad teaches Shakespeare and he doesn't have it in his iPod. Of course, he doesn't have an iPod. And at some point, Etan took control of the locker room sound system and put on some Black Ice.

3) Outerwear choices: Andray Blatche in a plaid red jacket that he said Gil had bought for him, size XXXXXXL (really); Roger Mason in a purple and pink hoody (really); and Darius Songaila in a sweater that buttoned up the shoulder (really).

Brendan, meantime, was wearing a cream-colored warm-up suit, an all-white L.A. Dodgers cap and shades.

"Look at this guy, look at him," Caron said. "Hollywood."

Zack Bolno encouraged me to ask James Lang questions, hinting that he'd be funny, so I asked about Brendan.

"Um, no comment," Lang said.

"You're not funny," I said, after a few more questions.

"He's funny-looking," Haywood observed.

4) Per the Wizznutzz, I asked Jarvis Hayes about Caron's "new" shoulder tattoo, figuring if WNTZ was asking, if must be new. "It's been like that a long time," Jarvis said. "There it is, right here," he continued, pointing to a big photo of Caron right in front of us. "You never noticed?" Uh....

5) When Caron came out of the locker room for his tattoo interview, he was carrying a bottle of red Nutri-Build III and more than a dozen plastic drinking straws. I asked about the straws.

"It's a fetish," he said.

No, not the beverage, I said, the straws.

"It's a fetish," he repeated. "I chew straws."


"I'm a straw chewer at the bar," Official Beat Writer Ivan Carter helpfully noted.

"Wait, do you really?" I said to Caron.

"Look," he said, opening his mouth and showing us a mangled, masticated straw, chewed down into a little ball.

"What about gum, man, I've got gum if you want," I offered.

"I can afford gum," he said. "I just like straws."

Various bystanders confirmed the fetish. So did his playoff Q&A last year. Apparently, he sticks straws into his socks during the pre-game, for easy chewing access. Maybe all those people insisting Gil's quirkiness isn't all that quirky are right.

6) As for the tattoos, sure enough, none of them are new. On the left shoulder he has the words "Family First," something that all the men in his family have tatooed, plus a tribute to a cousin who died in a car accident. On his right shoulder is the number 187 and a grim reaper holding a basketball. He received the number "187" at a Nike camp, and he's always kept that number. And the reaper, he said, goes along with the 187.

"Huh?" I asked, attempting to conclusively demonstrate that I grew up in Hicksville.

"You know, 187, reaper," he said, kindly.

"Does 187 mean reaper?" I asked, really intent on this.

"It means death," he said. "C-murder."

Right. I got too flustered to ask what we all really wanted to know: why that tattoo is so dark and inky, making it look "like the Crypt Keeper if the Exxon Valdez crashed into him." Next time.

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 5, 2006; 4:07 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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