RICHMOND — The Washington Wizards just concluded their first practice session of training camp, but the night before they hit the court, Flip Saunders brought in hypnotist John-Ivan Palmer, “the World’s Fastest and Funniest Hypnotist” for some team building. Palmer called up members of the Wizards onto the stage at the team hotel, and among the players that fell under his spell were Nick Young and Mike James. He tried to hypnotize DeShawn Stevenson, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, but it didn’t quite work, I’m told.
According to multiple Wizards, Nick Young was the most entertaining, galloping around the room on a baloon like a horse. Mike James was barking like a dog every time Palmer said the word “defeat” and couldn’t remember his last name.
“It was long, it was funny, but Nick did a good job making us laugh,” Stevenson said. “He had a lighter under Nick’s hands, and if the light goes off, Nick had to run around the room like he was on a horse. It was funny. It just opened everybody up. We’ve got new teammates and this made everybody laugh and helped us bond. It made us, instead of being in our rooms and not talking, we were sitting in our rooms laughing and talking about it. It made us close.”
Arenas couldn’t open his hand, Stevenson said, and Mike James also was moving like he had a hoolahoop on him.
When Palmer tried using his magic on Stevenson, what happened?
“He kept trying to touch my face and it just felt weird, so I was like, ‘Get off me,’ and I started laughing, and then Caron started laughing so he was mad and made us get up.
“He couldn’t crack me!” Stevenson said laughing and tapping his new tatoo on his forehead (the one that looks like there is a crack on his forehead. “I told you, that’s the only thing you’re getting right there!”
And so, he litterally couldn’t feel his face?
“No!” laughed Stevenson, who customarily waves his hand in front of his face as if he can’t feel it whenever he makes a 3-pointer. “I really couldn’t feel my face!”
As for once the Wizards finally got on the court this morning, the feel was a serious, focused approach, the players say. Much of the morning was devoted to installing offensive and defensive schemes, and tonight’s session will be more live action.
Antawn Jamison, who said he doesn’t mess with hypnosis being from Louisiana and Charlotte, came out after practice wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Our Time” printed on the front. Later Butler came out wearing a black cap with the same slogan stiched on it.
The players said Saunders, in addition to giving all the players iPod Touches with video and diagrams of the team playbook, gave them the shirts and hats and again stressed to the Wizards his goal of winning a championship.
“It’s not about winning 40 something games and making it to the playoffs. It’s about taking it to another level. We got a new captain of the ship and he believes in it, he’s been preaching it to us, and that’s the first thing that came out of his mouth in the meeting yesterday, that he believes we can win a championship. That’s something that’s never been discussed before, and it’s good to see everybody’s getting that same mindset of what we expect out of the team.”
Jamison went on: “Our Time. It’s not about talking about it. It’s about going out and getting the job done.”
On a side-note, Jamison did say that while he doesn’t mess with hypnotism, he DID wish he had been hypnotized last season.