Good Morning, Basketball!
The prevailing theme/complaint is easily the 10 a.m. start of today's preseason against the Charlotte Bobcats. The earlier than usual start - Wizards players repeatedly say they haven't played this early since AAU - was made so that the Bobcats could allow 17,000 school children to watch the game. The Bobcats had an 11 a.m. exhibition last year, but they changed the time at the request of the schools.
Needless to day, it had the players completely out of wack. I was even a little messed up. I usually try to get to games about two hours before tip-off, which means that I was at Charlotte Bobcats Arena at around 8 a.m. The Wizards team bus arrived at 7:45. Charlotte native Antawn Jamison arrived on the first bus and put some tickets in an envelope. Under the date, he wrote down, "Oct. 16, 2004" (He must've confused the early start for some sort of turn back the clock event). Antonio Daniels pounted out the blunder to Jamison, who initially didn't believe him.
"No, I didn't," Jamison said with a laugh.
"Yeah you did!" Daniels said. "I know. . .because I copied off you"
Jamison picked up the envelope in question, laughed to himself and said, "I know it's early, but . . .dog!" Jamison later walked up to me to ask how many games I can remember starting so early. We tried to think about pro football, college football or baseball. Couldn't come up with anything so early. Wizards spokesperson Zack Bolno, who used to work for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, chewed on it for a minute then mentioned a women's tennis match at USF, to which we all just shook out heads.
I asked Jamison if he ever played that early in college, maybe the NCAA or ACC tournament. "Even then, we started at noon - at the earliest," Jamison said before getting some shots in before the game. "I'm really out of it."
Gilbert Arenas, who won't play today, was one of the last players to stroll into the locker room around 9 a.m. Coach Eddie Jordan walked up to Arenas, who was hunched over in his chair, looking like was still struggling to wake up and said, "C'mon, Gil. This is just like practice."
"No, Coach," Arenas said. "Practice is at 11. This game is at 10 a.m."
Jordan joked with me later that he didn't understand how Arenas could be tired. "Gilbert is usually at the gym at 2, 3 in the morning," he said.
I spotted Donell Taylor in the hallway afterward and asked him about the early start. I said, "Well, I guess you guys had to go to bed early last night, huh?" Taylor shook his head and said, "Nah. No matter what, you're always going to be up 'til 2 [a.m.]. We'll just get a nap later."
The only benefit, perhaps, for some of the players was that they weren't harassed for tickets. Several Wizards has ties to North Carolina - Jamison, Brendan Haywood (a native of Greensboro who played at UNC) and Darius Songaila (who played at Wake Forest), but combined, they only needed 10 tickets. Haywood needed just two tickets for his mother, explaining, "My people have to go to work."
If this game sets the record for most turnovers, it might not be the fault of the ball.
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