Lost in all the drama surrounding Gilbert Arenas and his clash with Caron Butler has been the impending return to the District by Eddie Jordan.
Jordan has guided his new team, the Philadelphia 76ers out to a 5-8 start. He admitted it will be a little strange returning to the arena where he guided the Wizards to four straight playoff appearances.
“It’s always a little bit different when you go back to somewhere you’ve enjoyed some success and you’ve had some time with the players,” Jordan told reporters in Philadelphia earlier today. “The blow has been taken out because we played in the preseason, so some of that has been sort of settled now, subdued.”
Jordan has said that he is happy to be in Philadelphia and that his departure from the Wizards was for the best, but he doesn’t sound if he actually believes he was treated justly.
“If I thought I was doing a poor job and I thought maybe we should have been better, maybe it would have been different,” Jordan said. “But we were not on the same page and this is not the team that everyone thinks it should be. If you’re going to do it for marketing, for fans, and for the media, that’s for the wrong things. Be honest and be sincere about where you are as a team. And as an organization. So it didn’t happen. And that’s how I feel about it.”
When asked if he was at all surprised over the Wizards’ 3-9 start, Jordan said, “Yeah, I am surprised. Because the Big Three are together. Haywood had a career year when I was there two years ago, and he’s having a career year now. They got good players in Mike Miller and Randy Foye … they have I think a ton of talent and experience. And Gilbert is back healthy, so that’s a formidable team and they should be very good. So I don’t know what their problem is.”
Jordan has apparently gotten wind of Arenas’ latest controversial comments, but wasn’t caught off guard by them at all.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Jordan said. “Gilbert is very outspoken. And some of it is for entertainment and some of it is coming from his heart.”
Jordan was asked if he believes Arenas can be the leader that Flip Saunders needs him to be for this team succeed, and he didn’t exactly give him an endorsement…
“He’s capable of leading them in scoring and he’s capable of leading them in having a presence that’s very competitive and that’s very contagious,” Jordan said. “I don’t know if he can be a leader — I just don’t know that, I’m not saying he can’t be, I just don’t know if he can be.”
WOOOOOOOOW. Um, uh, thanks, Eddie.
And a big Thank-you to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Kate Fagan, who asked Eddie these questions for me at today’s practice up in Philly!
I asked some of the Wizards about their thoughts of facing Jordan and this is what they had to say…
Arenas: “For the team, I don’t know that we’re really excited about it because it was our old coach. It’s more for the fans. They thought they lost a good man, and we all felt we lost a good man. But he got a job, and unfortunately it’s on the East coast.”
Andray Blatche: “We’ve got a lot of extra motivation. We have a losing record and just want to get better. I’m not worried about the whole Eddie situation because that’s in the past. I’m just trying to get my team better and improve and get the win. We’re thirsty for a win.”
Antawn Jamison’s take: “We’re playing Philly tomorrow, everybody knows the relationship as far as the new coaching staff there, and him coaching here for the last couple of years. He’s going to want to win. We want to win. But the most important thing for us is that we’ve got to just continue to improve as a team and to get victories.”
Caron Butler: “It’s always good to see Coach. All of us should be grateful toward him and pay him homage for the success we had under him, myself being a two-time All-Star under him and Gilbert as well being a three-time All-Star. But at the same time, he’s coaching the other team and we want to win.”
Alright, that’s all folks. What a crazy, crazy day. From Gilbert singling out Caron, to the two kissing and making up — for now — and three re-writes to my story as everything changed, I’m beat.