Only one game into the season, and already there are some rocky seas surrounding the Washington Wizards. Before Monday night’s home opener against the New Jersey Nets, Andray Blatche, who’s entering his 7th season, grabbed a microphone and addressed the Verizon Center crowd.
“How y’all doing? This is your captain, Andray Blatche. On behalf of myself, my teammates, the whole Washington Wizard organization, we want to say we strongly appreciate y’all sticking around all summer. It’s been a long summer. It’s a shortened season, but it’s gonna be tough, and we’re gonna need you guys — the best fans in the NBA — to be our sixth man. So in other words, let’s get this season started.”
The Wizards then started off like gangbusters, pulling out to a 21-point lead over the Nets, before losing the lead, and ultimately the game, 90-84.
Afterwords, a few of the post game comments from Blatche raised a few eyebrows. Blatche was asked about coach Flip Saunders comments that the team lost the lead because they reverted to selfish play, and didn’t play as a team. Blatche answered back.
“He probably was talking about me for the simple fact that I said I need the ball in the paint to be effective,” Blatche said.
“You can’t keep having me pick and pop and shooting jump shots. Gimme the ball in the paint. That’s where I’m most effective at. I’ve been saying that since training camp. I need the ball in the paint. I don’t wand to be the pick-and-pop guy I used to be because it’s not working for me.”
Blatche’s comments were characterized on Twitter, as well as other news sources as “calling out his coach”, which Blatche responded to on Twitter.
“I may have had a bad game but that’s cause I need the ball in the post not taking jump shots all game,” Blatche tweeted.
Blatche also tweeted “Happy to have family around to make me feel better they are the only ones who matters.”
On Tuesday, Blatche was not made available to the media after practice, but once again took to his Twitter account to address the swirling controversy, and simply added more fuel to the fire.
“Every body need to shut up. I didn’t call out my coach or team mates. I said I had a bad game need it n the post instead of jump shots,” Blatche tweeted.
Wizards coach Flip Saunders was asked after Tuesday’s practice about the decision to make Blatche a captain this year, explaining that a captain’s role, at this early date in the season, is a rotating position, and could change with every game.
Hoping to show Blatche just what is expected of him this season, Saunders gave Blatche a copy of John C. Maxwell’s book, “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player” this summer. Blatche said he read about half of it, and got the message.
For the home opener, Blatche and Wall were the team’s captains. Last season, Wall was a captain for every game.
“A lot of times your point guards end up being your captain because they are the ones that are vocal and are out there with the ball in their hands. They are out there with referees. They have to make decisions,” Saunders said.
As for his relationship with Blatche, Saunders stated that the two are fine.
“We talked earlier this morning about things. He talked about wanting to be in the post. I said that’s something, to my ears, I love hearing that. we try to get him the ball,” Saunders said.
“We’ll try to continue to get him the ball down there more and be efficient like that. He also has to understand, just because you get it at 17 feet, you don’t have to shoot it either. I’m not twisting his arm to do that, just make basketball plays and he’ll be able to do that.”