Flip Saunders pays homage to Bullets past
Chatting at 11:30. See here.
There are plenty of reasons to like Flip Saunders, among them that he seems to have helped restore the Wizards to a state of competitiveness.
Here's another one: take a look at what he did to the Wizards' practice gym. Now, this isn't a new story, and I'm sure others have mentioned it, but I'm just getting to it now. In the old days, the practice gym--which is also used as the media room for things like NCAA basketball regionals and Frozen Fours--was just sort of barren, besides the exercise bikes and trainer tables. Now, it's decorated with some Bullets history.
"It'd be like walking into a house and there's no pictures or plants," Saunders said of the old look. "I wanted to make it homey, wanted them to know that this is our [house], wanted them to realize the tradition that's here, the players that have been here, to respect that tradition, understand that this team HAS won a championship."
Have the players noticed? I believe they have.
"It's significant," Caron Butler said. "I thought that was great....It's motivation. Antawn, Gilbert and myself, we want to see our own names up there one day."
But that's not all! There are also life-sized Fatheads of all the Wizards hanging on the opposite wall.
See, when he was in Detroit, Saunders struck up a friendship with Fathead CEO Pat McInnis, who's from Flint. So Saunders ordered up customized Fatheads for each of his players.
(Sad news in all of this: there are close ties between Fathead and the Cleveland Cavaliers. That's not good.)
In fact, on the day Saunders accepted the Wizards job, McInnis sent him six Fatheads of himself. None of the Saunders models hang in the Wiz gym, though he said his son has one hanging at home.
You'll notice that Andray Blatche is wearing his old number, 32, in his Fathead, instead of the 7-Day-Dray model. That's right, these are '08-'09 photos.
So how, then, did they manage to get Fatheads of Mike Miller, Fab Oberto and Randy Foye? Special photo shoots. These guys think of everything.
The Gilbert Arenas model, meantime, is the one that's actually marketed by Fathead. When you go to Cavs games in Cleveland, the franchise affixes a visiting team Fathead in the visiting team locker room. This Gilbert model is the one you'll see there, on Tuesday night, for example.
"Just I think more than anything else, make it more of a [feeling] where that's OUR gym," Saunders said, summarizing his makeover. "We come in there, it's ours, and we feel good about it, feel at home."
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