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You Tell Us: Why Were the Wizards So Bad?

Michael Lee's story today about the Wizards' season-ending loss to the Celtics almost served as an obituary for this miserable season. And his blog item after the game explained why Gilbert Arenas didn't play in more games.

Here's a chance to weigh in and look back on the season. I will take the best responses and create a poll later today.

Aside from injuries, what do you think was the main reason the Wizards were so terrible?

By Alexa Steele  |  April 16, 2009; 1:23 PM ET
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Next: Poll: Play the Blame Game


team defense is why we lost so many games, plain and simple.

Posted by: BurgwithaU | April 16, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

De-Fense (clap clap)
De-Fense (clap clap)

Posted by: disgruntledfan | April 16, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I think the biggest thing was that we didn't have anyone playing in any set roles.

just caron and twan 50 minutes a game.

caron's not a 2. that's 4 turnovers less a game

hopefully when arenas comes back, caron and twan go down to like 32 minutes a game, and everyone has a role.

enough of this pick up bball.

i did send my resume though a wile back

Posted by: supuradam | April 16, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

It'e clearly the fault of the Post's blog staff. If you guys had done a better job, the team would be a three seed, at least.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 16, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Ernie Grunfeld is a very bad, horrible GM.

It is all Ernie's fault.

They probably would have made the playoffs with Eddie Jordan, Roger Mason, and Antonio Daniels.

Posted by: SteveC28 | April 16, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Coaching, youth, coaching, no defense, coaching, injuries, talent. Low basketball IQ. Take your pick

Posted by: nhgoldberg | April 16, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The curse of Les Boulez has not only come back, but it's spreading to all the DC area teams! Snyder/Cerrato have it, the Nats (cringe) have it, and it looks like Jose Theodore has caught it!

Posted by: cgriesba | April 16, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Let's see. We were pretty bad in November and December, but we didn't notice just how bad it was until after January.

I consulted Fox News, and they said I should blame Obama.

Posted by: bryc3 | April 16, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

There is no "aside from injuries." Everything starts there, is related to it, and ends there. See Miami last year and San Antonio 1997.

Posted by: OutsideTheLaw | April 16, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse


It would not have been so bad to only win 19 games BUT we knew that it was gonna be a long season without GA & BH.

The thing that makes me mad is that this was a chance to evaluate the young talent and instead AJ & CB played their legs off and we still have questions about who we can count on to contribute on a regular basis.

Was this ET's fault or was he just doing what he was told?

We would not have won more games but we'd have a better idea of what we have in the way of youth and MAYBE AJ would not be facing off season surgery.

Posted by: VBFan | April 16, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I think it's combination of:

1. Bad defense all around, especially in terms of 3PT defense (we gave up more threes than any other team); allowing more assists than any other team (24.6 game); and second worst in opponents' FG% overall at 48.2%.

2. Bad defense can be mitigated by a great offense and great offenses can be a team's best defense for such teams. This year, the Wizards had a roster built to play uptempo ball with Gil, but since he was out, we played at 2nd gear most games... we were in the bottom 10 or worse for overall FG%, 3PT%, amounts of threes, and assists, and consequently we're 6th to last in PPG. It seems that the areas where the Wiz couldn't defend at (FG% and threes), we weren't good at responding back in those same areas either, and our differentials are horrible in all of these areas that I mentioned. You'll lose tons of games that way (Give up many threes and don't score many threes, for example).

3. Youth - The youth we have is talented but none of those guys were or are expected to be a star player, at least for now.

Posted by: acleex | April 16, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"They probably would have made the playoffs with Eddie Jordan, Roger Mason, and Antonio Daniels.Posted by: SteveC28"

Also Kobe and LeBron, right?

Posted by: Samson151 | April 16, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

brendan haywood was huge as well

Posted by: BurgwithaU | April 16, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

First, no way it is Obama's fault -- we all know that any thing bad that has happened in the last 1 year and anything bad that happens in the next year will be Bush's fault. This probably is true for the Wizards, Clippers and Sacramento. Obama will get credit for Cleveland, the Lakers and Orlando.

Second, the Wizards were so bad because of bad defense, 60% of the starting lineup not playing most of the year, and coaching. 2/3 of these will be resolved before the start of training camp. Hopefully the defense will see some improvement with Saunders. Saunders will definitely help the offense (as will the return of our starters).

Posted by: Chad32 | April 16, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

They lost they starting #1 and #5. In this league how good would anyone be? Their lone inside defensive presence, and their outside pressure guarantee. Season's done before it started. And it showed.

Good to see FLIP SAUNDERS on the horizon. But the match-up zone is going to be tough to learn and its difficult to play. The WIZARDS have the individuals who can play it, but standing around is not part of that defensive equation. Its constant motion by five guys or the opposition goes to the rack time and again or there are open jumpers everywhere. Pretty much like the season just ended. So anybody who wants to only play on the offensive end of the court is going to get undressed on defense. We'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, let's point to the draft and do some good. A lot of work ahead. And thanks to ED TAPSCOTT who put all he had into the interim job.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 16, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Blame lies at the blame feet of Ernie Grunfeld and the poor personnel decisions made last summer as well as the quick firing of Eddie Jordan....a close 2nd was that this team plays zero defense.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 16, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I would have to say that EG ruined this teams chances when he didn't sign Mason made not one improvement to the roster in the offseason and when he fired EJ after just ten games, say what you want about Jordan but he took a squad most NBA insiders didn't think had a chance at the postseason and did it four years in a row,the last two without Arenas, now lets see the great Flip Saunders do that.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 16, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse


Not in my neighborhood brother. Its the other way around. Hey let's get out for the tax tea-party scene. Telephone calls up the ying-yang. Upper middle class wanna' be's afraid the big bad U.S. of A. is gonna' take all they got. What a way to live - runnin' scared. Whew!!!! But then NONE of these cats are WIZARDS fans anyway.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 16, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I think that psychologically they couldn't play over there heads 2 years straight without Gilbert. Then you had Brendan go down as well. Although Caron's statistics were similar, he didn't have it in him to carry the team like last year. Outside of Jamison, the whole team was rookies, limited experience vets, and sleepwalking vets. They quit on the playoffs once it was determined Gilbert would not make it back and his return kept getting postponed.

Posted by: G-Man11 | April 16, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

1. we outbid ourselves for Gilbert
2. no Gilbert/no PG
3. no center
4. no coach
5. Ernie
6. 89393 year old owner
7. did not get Pau Gasol last year
8. Deshawn got hurt

Posted by: prescrunk | April 16, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Here it is in one run-on sentence:

The 08-09 Washington Wizards were consistently exposed on defense due to poor technique and even poorer hustle, a problem born out of too much youth and inexperience and that leaked over to the offensive side of the game and was mitigated by the lack of any consistent knock-down perimeter shooters and big-bodies who are actually willing to bang under the glass.

Posted by: rgm34 | April 16, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

When you fire the coach and install a interim coach for the season after 15 games you are admitting to everyone on the team, in the organization, and the fans that you have given up on the season because we do not even care enough to hire a real coach.

I blame Ernie for this, but also having Darius Songaila start play center in the NBA is like having Dave Neal as your starting center in the ACC.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 16, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

A couple of years ago, when things were going badly for the Wizards, E Jordan was asked why Steve Blake was frozen on the bench. His famous reply -- "We all know what Stevie can do"!

Yeah, we do, don't we. Portland won 54 games, finished 3rd in the West. "Stevie" played 35 minutes, averaged 10+ ppg and 5 assists, and managed the floor game for the Blazers.

Meanwhile, w/o Arenas on the floor, the Wizards had no one who knew how to manage the game.

Posted by: dmidlam | April 16, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I attribute the awfulness of Wizards 2008-09 season to the initiation of the CERN large Hadron collider in September of 08. A number of terrible events devolved including the global financial meltdown and the Wiz's stinking up the Eastern Conference, among the more striking.

Fortunately high-energy physicists noted fluctuations and anomalies in the continuum and shut the collider down a little over a week after firing it up and before serious damage could occur; black holes, cats and dogs co-habiting, etc.

The Wiz's dismal season was actually a small price to pay and if we get Blake Griffin in the lottery it may all have been worth it.

Posted by: midlevex | April 16, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Meanwhile, w/o Arenas on the floor, the Wizards had no one who knew how to manage the game.Posted by: dmidlam"

Now you might just have a point there. I recall many occasions when just having somebody out on the floor who could get the young guys on the same page with the vets, might have made a crucial difference.

Maybe 25 or 30 wins? Now that I think about it, I'd rather than the higher lottery pick.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 16, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

if there is a mistake that Grunfeld, made it was last season why would you give stevenson 5year 15 million contract who is a average producer, for you that money you could have used to lock Roger Mason as for trades, he couldn't make a big trade, because it would have cost, him a big name player which was something, he was not willing to give up, what's gonna be interesting is that if the Wizards get the no1 pick and select Blake griffin from Oklahoma what are they gonna do with Jaimeson if they decide to trade him can they get mayo for him.

Posted by: rmnkevorkian | April 16, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

we started three small forwards, mike james and songaila for the majority of the season, and also tapscott was in charge of getting the most out of them.

Posted by: bford1kb | April 16, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Let's see:

No Coach
Too many injuries to key players
Immature rookies and bench players(except McGuire)
Lack of focus by rookies(see above)
No Defense
Inconsistent rotations
Last but definitely not least:

Bad decision by GM to fire a head coach with no head coach lined up to take over. That was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Posted by: ivyleague | April 16, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Everything went wrong.

It's a good lesson in the failure to set meaningful and realistic expectations, and then drive behavior to meet the associated objectives. I put this on Abe, EG and ET -not the players.

For example, at the all-star break, the management set an objectve to win 50% of the remaining games. This goal was unacheivable, and just helped fuel more burn-out, dissension and injuries. Also, it wasn't a meaninful goal.

I would ask another question - what, if anything, went well?

Posted by: Izman | April 16, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

its cause Wes and Abe aint no good without the Big E...bring him back with a smile on his face and it all going to be all right. Its been bad mojo ever since.

Btw, what did the Bullets ever do to piss Elvin Hayes off? It seems strange that he has never come back at any time or anyway to be a part of the Abe's "family".

Posted by: oddjob2 | April 16, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Whiney fans.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | April 16, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Injuries are 70 percent of the problem. So even though we're supposed to take that one for granted, still gotta say it.

20 percent I'd say was youth and inexperience. 10 percent was talent (e.g. if that youth and inexperience was a 19 year old LeBron, we wouldn't have just 19 wins).

Losing Roger Mason and trading AD didn't help much either. If the Wiz had had both Mason and AD it's a pretty safe bet that the team wins 30 and maybe even has a shot at the 8th seed.

Bottom line though: the real measure of the team will be when it's at full strength.

Posted by: JPRS | April 16, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Once the injuries are set aside, the major problem is youth. I love our team, but youth takes time to develop. Once the youth develop, the second problem disappears, depth. The wizards starting five can compete favorably with most teams, but then we fall off. Championship teams have the least amount of fall-off after the starting five are resting on the bench. Finally, a tier one star needs to step forward or be acquired. Tough task!

Posted by: HometownGhost | April 16, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Fun bunch,


How was it then??!!!!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | April 16, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I think the biggest part was not having Brendan Haywood on the floor. Wizards didn't have a true center for the whole entire season. So player who were not used to playing that role had to fill up that spot.

Posted by: noucinfk91 | April 16, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

there was never a chance for proper roles for each player. 21 different starting lineups is a clear indicator of how this baby was doomed. But still, either way, Tabscott had a better winning percentage than Jordan, count it!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | April 16, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Aside from the injuries? They lost THREE starters to injury for basically the whole season, including a guy that averages nearly 30ppg.

There are a lot of reasons why this team will never win a title, but as to why they sucked so monstrously this year, injuries is it.

Posted by: elscorcho | April 16, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Once Daniels reported to camp on one leg and Haywood injures the wrist the season was done. There was no chance of gutting out a 7th or 8 seed with a core of vets like last season.

Eddie Jordan came out of camp like a guy with some one looking over his shoulder. Since Flip Suanders spent training camp as a "special consultant" we now have a pretty good idea who that was.

Right or wrong, Ernie made the decision that the shotgun wedding between him and Eddie was over. Tappscott was hired to preside over a lottery ball accumulation party.

He seemed to do a decent job overall of finding really creative ways to loose games without getting the tank word mentioned very often.

What you have seen is a franchise tanking in a year when the chances of making or advancing in the playoffs would have been remote due to the injuries. I would have liked to have seen a better managed effort at the development of the younger players. But Tapps was hired to loose, as fans we shouldn't push it.

Some people around here act as if an NBA team never tanked before. Did any of you catch any King games? They were the dark horse in the Griffin derby, they made a couple of deals at the deadline and got really serious about loosing and really put on a sprint down the stretch.

Posted by: flohrtv | April 16, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Tanking? The Clippers lost to the Thunder by 41 points last night to ensure a tie with the Wizards for second worst record --- that's tanking!

Posted by: MeviousMan | April 16, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Fan karma

They were 2-1 when I was in town and at the games.

They were 1-0 for a different game with President Obama there.

Clearly if President Obama and I had attended all Wizard games we would be 62-20 at the very least.

See y'all at the Draft.

Posted by: khrabb | April 16, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Poor Offense, terrible defense. Very Poor Coaching. Assistant coaches didn't help either.

Posted by: rickgonz | April 16, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

midlevex: "I attribute the awfulness of Wizards 2008-09 season to the initiation of the CERN large Hadron collider in September of 08."

Makes perfect sense. Combined with the overall poor quality of this blog, that is. People don't realize it, but every time you visit this site, some fifty trillion solar neutrinos pass directly through your body.

Well, that happens the rest of the time, too, but still....

Posted by: Samson151 | April 16, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

"People don't realize it, but every time you visit this site, some fifty trillion solar neutrinos pass directly through your body."

Every time I visit this site I lose fifty trillion neurons. They may be checking out with the neutrinos. And still I come back for more. There may be a correlation.

Oh by the way the other reason the Wiz collapsed like a house of zards; the rest of the league showed up for the 08-09 season.

Posted by: midlevex | April 16, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Three reasons defense, injuries to the starting lineup, and bad chemistry throughout the team

Posted by: mertmyers | April 16, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Well the whole things comes down to Arenas being out. I just still don't understand how he came back in the playoffs last season, then had the entire offseason, but yet was not ready for the start of the season and says it was the plan all along for him to out until January?! I think when he came out with that statement I blew all the wind out of the sails for the entire team, the players, and the coaching staff and the fans. I don't think anyone was expecting that, but he said it like it was no big deal.

Haywood going down basically made it impossible to overcome Arenas being out. Losing Mason didn't help either. The decline and injury of DeShawn and Antonio, and Etan never finding his old form and then getting hurt again.

The young guys showed flashes, but just were not ready to fill the shoes and carry the team forward. At this point they are still all in the faze of just working on their own individual games and improving and just trying to find their way on this team and in this league. Actually playing as a team and playing winning ball is a leven they just haven't gotten to yet.

Firing Eddie Jordan also just futher deflated this team. At least he had shown he was able to deal with Arenas going down last season and still lead the team and win. Dropping him the way it was done basically just told everyone this season is over. We're gonna play for the draft at this point it's the only real chance for a positive opportunity to arise out of this season.

Posted by: Darnell1 | April 16, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

the only hope this team had to win after Haywood fell was for the young guys - especially Young and Blatche - to become major contributors. They didn't so the Wiz didn't win. Most of the blame then must go to Young and Blatche, and i guess Grunfield gets a share since he put them on the team.

Posted by: stevie2 | April 16, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

they should have known Gilbert was still really hurt.
...but they ignored that and didn't fill in the gaps on the team.
Mike James was a disaster...
Ed Tapscott should go back to coaching Sidwell Friends.
They didn't play their promising rookies nearly enough...particularly Javelle.
The whole team was miscast. They had Dom at 2, Caron at 3, James at 1, and Songaila at 5. What a joke.
...and it gets worse. Not only was the Gilbert contract ridiculous, but add on top of that: absurd contracts to middling players like Etan and Deshaun.
Just a really slipshod operation in general.

Posted by: goosey | April 16, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

A lot of aspects of basketball fall under this one word. The one word that sums up why we were so bad this year in all aspects and that word is EXECUTION. We could not execute on defense or offense. So, blame execution on youth, injuries, whatever...but, this Wiz team could not execute consistently! The handful of games they did like the last Cleveland game or the Obama Bulls game they looked like a decent basketball team and won!

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 17, 2009 2:30 AM | Report abuse

The seeds of a losing season were planted last summer when the franchise gave into Arenas's demands to bring back Jamison or he would leave. When they started kissing players buts to get them to perform they lost control and all respectability and this continued on with how Tapscott ran the team. The veterans could do no wrong and were never criticized but the young players were treated often like they could do nothing right. If Grunfield brings this roster back mostly intact they won't make the playoffs next season.

Posted by: dandyhuffman | April 17, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

1. Lost Arenas and Haywood.

2. Let Roger Mason get away - he played a BIG role for the Wiz that no one has been able to step up and fill.

3. Replaced a great coach with a filler coach.

4. Grunfeld didn't do anything to improve the roster last summer. They ended up with less talent than they had the year before in a year where every other franchise in their conference added serious talent.

5. The young guys need serious "iron fist" coaching to scare them into their respective roles.

6. Too young of a team with not enough seasoned vets to make them a consistent franchise.

7. They're maxed out due to Gil's contract (and they were ideally positioned with Gil's injury to get him for much less) so unless they break up the big three they are pretty much stuck with what they have for who knows how many years. Maybe if they win Griffen in the lottery they will be better positioned for trades, etc. But for now, they can't afford to lose anyone in the big three.

8. They need to move Deshawn Stevenson and Etan Thomas. With Etan's health and Stevenson's lack of consistency, they are taking up too much salary cap space for what they're contributing. If they don't get Griffen they might want to package their eventual pick with those two to trade for some consistent seasoned veterans.

Posted by: Independent11 | April 17, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

8. They need to move Deshawn Stevenson...

Posted by: Independent11 | April 17, 2009 8:34 AM

u must be as dense and Ernie and Tap guy. what inconsistency?? Deshawn is our only good perimeter defender. He had a great year last year and 06-07, shooting 40% from 3. This year he was injured and it was just a bad season, consistently. In your talking point #6, you talk about too much youth being a problem, but in talking point #8, you discuss trading two veterans.

Posted by: prescrunk | April 17, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I can see now why we all are just bloggers. Why the most of us would believe that lack of defense was the reason why this Team is so bad proves my point that most people really don't know what Defense is.

You see the best of players and Teams must have a commitment to play defense and include it there overall strategy.

The reason why this Team appears to be a woefull defensive Team is because they have a coach that dosen't know how to institute it for his players.

This coach and even the one before him wanted each individual player to be responsible for defense. That strategy will always translate to bad bad bad Defense.

You see the best defensive Teams demand Team Defense and there Coach has a clue what it is and how to institute it.

Defense is a direct reflection of the Coach.

Therefore, the reason that the Washington Wizards are so bad is because of poor inept coaching.

Ya' Heard Me.'


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 17, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

The wizards were not productive this year becuase of youth, defense and coaching. Why did we fire eddie jordan?? im looking forward to Flip, but it wasnt eddies fualt we were losing games. The youth on our team are no good! Nick young, andray blatche, Dominic Mcguire, pecharov- we whould release them all. (There the reason we cant play D) McGee should stay, hes going to be good. javaris C. good back up PG for gilbert. Starting Line-up next season: Arenas, Butler, Jamison, BLAKE GRIFFEN/THABEET, Haywood. Then we got javale for back up center. crittenton for back up pg. songalia is solid. A healthy Deshawn and Etan. and hopefully we can pick up another solid role player or two. The Wiz are gonne be ready to ball next year!

Posted by: k14baker | April 17, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Poor coaching. I appreciate the efforts to keep morale up, despite a horrible season. I fault the coaches for not making the team better over the course of the year. I feel that while individual players improved, that can mostly attributed to them just being young and maturing. The problem is that the team didn't improve as a group.

Posted by: jon_quest | April 17, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse


The guestion is: Why were the Wizards so bad?

Defense, injuries, the GM, youth, are all contributable factors.

The one factor that outweighs them all, by a country mile is inept coaching.

I don't know what forest most of you folks looking at but ya' ain't seeing it for the trees.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 17, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

And one more point about this Defense thing.

I think we can call agree that the Dertroit Bad Boys may be one of the best Defensive Teams in NBA history.

It wasn't because they had the best individual defensive players, it was because the coach and the organization demanded that they play tough Team Defense.

In fact they played it so tough that the NBA changed defensive rules so the Offense could breathe from the tactics they were using.

Now for those of you that don't know it, Adrian Dantley played on those teams and he clashed with Isaiah Thomas on playing Defense this way and this was the bottom line reason why Isaiah had Dantley traded from the Team.

There overall strategy was to guard there man off the ball man so fiercely as to limit any good offensive flow at all. Grabbing, holding, hitting, tripping, any means necessary.

My point is, Defense is a focus instituted by your coach. If your coach dosen't demand and institute a sound philosophy, the players on the floor cannot do it by themselves. It is a coaching responsibility.

Find yourself a truly good coach and defense will be the least of your worries.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 17, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

u must be as dense and Ernie and Tap guy. what inconsistency?? Deshawn is our only good perimeter defender. He had a great year last year and 06-07, shooting 40% from 3. This year he was injured and it was just a bad season, consistently. In your talking point #6, you talk about too much youth being a problem, but in talking point #8, you discuss trading two veterans.

Posted by: prescrunk | April 17, 2009 10:07 AM

You poor deluded fool. Deshawn Stevenson played 32 games this season (started 25 of those) and here was his averages:

FG%: 0.312
3PT%: 0.271
FT%: 0.533
RPG: 2.4
APG: 3.1
SPG: 0.7
PPG: 6.6

He would tell you himself that he lost all confidence and couldn't play worth a crap. Stevenson is ok when Arenas is playing, drawing double teams, and dominating. Take Arenas out of the game and Stevenson is exposed as a second tier player.

In #8 I talk about trading two nonperforming veterans. We need strong, dependable, healthy, consistent veterans.

Posted by: Independent11 | April 17, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

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