The Wizards Get Serious
The first few minutes of today's Wizards media availability were deeply troubling, with one player after another swearing off tomfoolery as the regular season approaches.
"Me myself, I'm going to start taking things a lot more serious," Andray Blatche said. He went on to use the word "serious" at least six times in his brief remarks.
"C'mon man, it's a serious year," he explained to me, then referencing the team's marketing motto of "Character, Commitment, Connection" as his justification. Except he called it "Commitment, Something, Something."
Next up was DeShawn Stevenson, who had shaved off his flat-top and, a year after his epic beard growth, said he was "just going regular" for the foreseeable future.
"No antics this year, no antics," Stevenson said, stone-faced. "I'm retiring until Gilbert gets back."
"How serious do you guys have to be with these two games coming up?" a television reporter asked Caron Butler, whose reply--"Very serious,"--sounded very serious indeed.
"The personality on the team is set with me and Antawn [Jamison] and Antonio Daniels; we're serious, down to business guys," Butler told me before he left. "It's grind time."
Serious? Business? Grind time? I was getting ready to put the Bog up for sale, until Butler talked me off the ledge.
"We'll still have fun stuff for you," he said. "Obviously. We'll give you something. Look at Nick's haircut, man."
Oh. Right. Team Grind Time's unquestioned star at practice today was Nick Young, the second-year man who, after losing a bet with Stevenson, had been forced to cut his emerging 'fro into something resembling...well....
"A damn rooster," Butler said. "I don't know what that is."
"I don't know if it's a Cali thing or a USC thing, but not too many guys where I'm from wear mohawks," Jamison said. "My whole thing about mohawks is, if you're like 17 and under, it's ok, but after that it's not meant for a man to wear."
Young actually called the cut "The Red Rooster, or something like that," and said it was a combined flat top/mohawk. He said he has to keep his hair similarly piled atop his head for at least two months, and he shook his head sadly when asked about his team's increasingly serious approach.
"I'm a changed man, no more jokes from me," the Red Rooster said, maintaining his seriousness for all of nine words. "Nah, nah, they won't change, they CAN"T change me," he concluded. Then he told us all that he loved us.
By the way, Young says he's ready to play in the remaining two preseason games, and the leadership has been wowed by his recent displays.
"He was awesome today," Coach Eddie Jordan said. "Probably the best player in practice."
"You know what, if he continues to practice the way and play the way he did today he can wear that thing all season long," Jamison said. "Because he did phenomenally well today in practice, and hopefully it was because of the haircut."
Even Stevenson was on board, but for very serious reasons.
"I love it," he said of Young's haircut. "He played good in practice today, so it was hot."
October 21, 2008; 3:33 PM ET
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