Wiz Respond to Juan Dixon
Really, there's no lower form of journalistic hackery than taking a quote from an out-of-town player delivered to out-of-town media members and throwing it in the face of the local team in an attempt to elicit something juicy in return. Which is why I went to Wizards' practice today with the intent of doing exactly that. But I did it with a smile and a wink. Don't hate me.
To recap: this was Juan Dixon, widely quoted in Canadian newspapers today:
"We want that third seed," said Toronto guard Juan Dixon, who chipped in 17 points in 30 minutes off the bench. "We'd rather play a depleted Washington team than a Chicago or Cleveland right now in the first round. So hopefully we can continue to win."
Obviously, the sentiment is not surprising. Clearly, Juan Dixon will be forever beloved in these parts. Without question, he just said what everyone in the known universe must be thinking. But still, it just seems to go against the rules somehow. To publicly acknowledge that you believe your likely first-round opponent is a juicy target? Preferable to some other targets? Especially when said opponent is your former team? That's the sort of thing you have to ask the Wizards about, right? Other journalists seemed to agree. Player responses varied.
Indifferent: "That's cool," Antonio Daniels said. "Oh," Jarvis Hayes said. "That's one team's goal. Our goal is to keep moving up and keep winning ball games, and whoever we draw in the first round, that's who we draw.
Probing: "You know, there's probably a little personal vendetta going on with that," Donell Taylor said with a smile. "I don't know, I don't get into that too much because I'm a new cat around here."
Intrigued: "Be careful what you ask for," Caron Butler said. "I mean, just be careful what you ask for, sometimes you really get it. You know, if you really want to play the Washington Wizards, that's probably what you're gonna get. But don't rule out the possibility of me coming back, either, and if that's what you want, that's what you may get."
"First round?" I asked.
"You never know," Butler said. "You never know."
[Aside: You might have read where Caron is wearing a blue cast that's been signed by friends, family, and teammates. The explanation for the signatures was apparently delivered last week, and shown on local TV, but I never saw it on any blogs.
"Just because no one blogged about it doesn't mean it didn't happen," some wiseacre said at practice this morning. I disagree. So, the explanation for the signed cast?
"It's old school," Butler said. "You know, it's good luck. Just get everybody, all your supporters on there, all your friends, get everybody to sign. The whole team, top to bottom. Gilbert signed it actually the day of the game that he got injured."
Then he showed me where he had gotten his cast signed by omnipresent Wiz fan Wallace Barron.]
[Another aside: Caron was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at a Nats game last week. He canceled, post-broken hand. I asked why he couldn't have throw the ball left-handed, and he said it wasn't about the throwing motion.
"I just wasn't in the mood to do nothing, man," he said. "I just want this team to get some wins first, then I'll feel a little better."
That's when you know a guy wants to win; when he's injured and should be out for the year but instead is threatening to come back in the first round and is too upset about his team's fortunes to go throw out a ceremonial pitch. Caron said he actually threw out a first pitch for Florida the last time the Marlins won the World Series, so he considers himself good luck in that regard. And he's not exactly a baseball fan, but he's trying.
"I don't really get into baseball," he explained, "but as I get older, you know, I've got to be more well rounded, so I'm starting to do everything."]
[Final unrelated note: Wizards PR ace Daren Jenkins was carrying around a Baron Davis jersey at practice today. I figured it was for Gilbert's collection. I was wrong. It was for DeShawn Stevenson's collection. Yes, first DeShawn Stevenson printed up t-shirts to hand out to the crowd, and now he has a jersey collection. Although it turns out his collection pre-dates Gilbert's.
"I was collecting 'em a long time ago but then I stopped," he told me, "and then I saw what Gilbert was doing so I [re-started]. I've got 300 right now. Gilbert's probably got like 15,000, right?"
That might be a little high, but I'm pretty sure Gilbert's got more than 300. Point is, Gilbert is all into the obscure old-school high school throwback jerseys, keeping them in some sort of special vault, whereas DeShawn keeps his more mainstream collection in his game room: Chris Webber, Allen Iverson, and so on. The pride of his collection?
"Karl Malone's actual real Dream Team jersey," Stevenson told me. "He gave it to me."
I asked why Malone would have given an actual Dream Team jersey to Deshawn Stevenson.
"I guess he liked me," DeShawn said.
As for those "I Can't Feel My Face" t-shirts, he says he'll be handing out about 500 tomorrow, so we'll see, but I wouldn't bet money that it definitely happens. Just keep your eyes out. Regardless, at some point in the near future, I promise to wear one of those on the Washington Post Live set.]
Actual basketball quotes:
Eddie Jordan on Andray Blatche: "I think I'll put Darius and Andray probably coming off the bench tomorrow."
Same starting lineup then? "Pretty much. If I was changing it, I wouldn't tell Lawrence Frank now."
Eddie Jordan on Jarvis Hayes: He knows he's gonna play minutes, he feels that there's a comfort level for him that he's gonna get the minutes. And you know, there were shots that he made that were very tough, [and] there were shots that he missed I thought were as easy as the tough ones. I want him to make the easy ones too, but I think he's a lot more aggressive and he feels comfortable."
Eddie Jordan on the young guys: "We call these Shining Moments for them too, and I say that to make them feel that they're ready and they should be ready....There's no pressure, so show and be the X factor. That's what Shining Moment means, be the X factor, do something that people don't expect you to do that's gonna put us over the top."
Antawn Jamison: "It is still a positive atmosphere in the locker room and guys know that we are going to make the playoffs. It's just a matter of getting that one victory. Once we get that one victory, we'll start to get on a roll here soon because we have been playing hard....I can't wait for us to get it out of the way so we can really concentrate on playing basketball."
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