- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Wizards have pulled out a jackhammer to go beneath rock bottom.

Kwame Brown says this, Gilbert Arenas says that, and Eddie Jordan is left to bury his face in his hands.

The Wizards are one of the worst teams in the NBA, and just now feuding to be the worst of the worst.

The Wizards have packed up their gear and called it a season. They have 28 tank jobs to complete. They appear up to the challenge.

Jordan questioned the professional integrity of his players in Philadelphia two weeks ago. The players answered the question in subsequent showings. They have none. They have quit playing defense. They have quit being a team.

They are month-old leftovers, wedged in the back of a refrigerator, forgotten until the stench overwhelms all else.

What is that smell coming from Tony Cheng’s neighborhood?

Is it the desperation lurking inside Coyote Ugly or the basketball implosion being fashioned across the street?

Abe Pollin, the eternal victim, is paying for the mess. He ought to put a stop payment on the checks being made out to those in short pants.

He would be better off hiring the roving band of gypsies that endeavor to blacktop driveways in the area each spring. The scam artists do not finish the work, either, but the financial loss is considerably less than the millions being flushed down the sewer drains along Fun Street.

Pollin feeds the needy each Thanksgiving Day. That act of charity is nothing compared to the cash outlay involving the Wizards.

Quitting is one of the unpardonable sins of sports. Fussing over the degree of quit is almost as hopeless as this so-called team.

Brown makes a good point anyway.

In the absence of hope, self-interest becomes the prevailing consideration of the individuals.

Arenas, as interested in his stat line as the next player, is not necessarily the easiest target. He has his moments of indiscriminate actions, as if he has blown a gasket and decided that a 24-second possession on offense is his alone to burn.

Juan Dixon undoubtedly is the worst offender, although he has been left out of the tooth-pulling session involving Brown and Arenas.

Dixon dribbles the ball in a stationary position, as if he is trying to beat a dusty rug. He has not put a hole in the floor yet, but the possibility exists. He dribbles in one spot, then fakes one way and another before hoisting up a 20-footer.

This is his idea of offense, funny as the notion is with this bunch.

The unimaginative 20-footer is what turned the team against Doug Collins and the old Jordan, too old to be the young Michael in Washington.

The Wizards are inundated with a glut of 7-for-21 shooting types: Arenas, Dixon, Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Hughes. Of the four, Stackhouse is the only one who has the conviction to attack the basket with regularity and elicit a whistle from the referees.

No modestly gifted low-post player who is ever dependent on an entry pass from the perimeter could go a season without noting these obvious dynamics. He either would have to be dead or saintly, with Brown confirming he is neither.

Brown’s critique, however elementary, comes too late to salvage this project.

The Wizards might as well be wearing black strips in memory of themselves. They died just before the All-Star break and did not have the courtesy to let the public know.

They started the season with what was billed as “pure energy.” Now the only body part that is still functioning is the mouth.

They have been run over by the NBA season after being ill-equipped to absorb the injuries to Stackhouse and Arenas, and now a highway crew is moving into view to scrape their carcasses from the pavement.

It is not pretty, and anyone who has a vague interest in the fortunes of the Wizards has a right to object to their lack of professionalism.

Being a bad team is an acceptable part of the maturation process.

Being a bad team that goes into the fetal position on defense and the shoot-first mode on offense is an insult to the last few fans who still care.

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