Wizards Try to Be Happy
"You can't just every day be depressed, you know?" Nick Young told me today. "Every day you've got to come with a new attitude, you know? Got to try and put things behind you. That's what I'm trying to do, really; you've got to try and find some way to make people laugh a little bit."
This was my first Wizards practice in two months, and I wasn't sure how depressing it would be. Not exactly like the old days. But there were at least a few small kernels of humor and happiness mixed into 10-39. A brief sampling.
* Nick Young's parents are visiting from California. That means lasagna. Oleksiy Pecherov's parents and brother are visiting from Ukraine. That means "some soup, some potato, and meat, and salads, all zis stuff," Pecherov said. "Ukrainian food, man; tastes good, tastes good."
I asked if the meat and potatoes were responsible for his season-high 13-point outburst on Wednesday night.
"I mean, it's tasted good, that's it," he said.
Someone else asked about frequent Pech-at-Harris-Teeter sightings.
"Harris Teeter is right next to my apartment," he said. "I don't care, I'm going to get some food, what I gonna care about people, what they say?"
* Some of the Verizon Center faithful have been unfaithful in recent weeks. Vocally. I asked interim coach Ed Tapscott whether he's ever booed a team as a fan.
"Not me," he said. "Unfortunately I rarely go to a game as a fan, just sort of go and enjoy it. And when I do, I understand all the things that could be happening that prevent good play....When I watch a game, that's what I see. I don't boo. My daughter boos. She doesn't boo us, but she boos when we go see Redskins games, oh yeah."
So I asked Tapscott whether, having been on the wrong end of such behavior, he's tried to talk her out of such jeers.
"She's a fan, she's 16 years old, what else would I expect?" he said. "If they fumble the ball, I expect her to say, 'boooo,' like anybody else....I won't allow her to take any shots at any owners. Here's what I will say, capital deserves respect, ok?"
* Did you hear how point guard Mike James was the guest pastor for a few recent games when the team's regular pastor had to be away? James actually volunteered for the duty.
"I said, 'You can have the door open, just leave it open, and we can have a fellowship and I can make sure that it's being run,' " James told me. "And so the next game I came in and there was a big paper that said Guest Pastor Today, Mike James, and I was just like, wow."
So James went home and prepared a message based on the scripture, '"For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," a message he said is particularly apt for NBA stars. Several players, including Andray Blatche, Nick Young and visiting Luke Ridnour stopped by.
"It was almost like they were curious to see, ok what are you gonna talk about, because they're normally used to a chaplain," James said. "But after the message they were like 'Wow, nice message.' "
"He knows a lot of stuff about the Bible and everything," Young confirmed. "I think he could be [a pastor], but he uses too many big words, you know? He's trying to use big words and be smart."
Young was joking. Anyhow, there have been several Mike James messages since then. No music, though.
"We didn't break out in hymns," James said. "We didn't do that. We just prayed."
* Tapscott is a well-read man with a law degree and diverse interests, so I asked whether he had turned to any favorite texts during these difficult days.
"You know, it's funny, as a matter of fact I did," he said. "When we were in Chicago we stayed right across the street from a Borders book store, so the night before the game, I had a few minutes, I went over to get a cup of coffee and, you know, browse for some books. And they had a book on John Wooden."
So Tapscott bought one of the many Wooden tomes--calling the aptly named Wizard of Westwood "the iconic coach of our generation." He keeps it on his credenza, and plucks aphorisms to deliver to his team, and reads it periodically to refresh his own mind. Which wasn't exactly what I was hoping for in the way of reading material.
"No constitution law texts, that's for damn sure," Tapscott added. "It was dry reading then, it's even drier now."
* As has oft been reported, I frequently hate my job and need to hit myself in the face to roll out of bed in the morning. but even with a winning percentage of .204, Tapscott said he doesn't necessarily share my philosophy.
"Never, never. I never wake up and say, 'Awwww, man, I've got to go over there? Never," he said. "Do I still have fun? Every day. Every day. Look, I know we're struggling, I know why we're struggling, and this is a big challenge, but where there's a challenge there's an opportunity."
See, to me, where there's a challenge there's an opportunity for public humiliation and shame. But I guess that's why he's the NBA coach and I'm the blogger.
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