- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 30, 2006

Perhaps the Wizards and Cavaliers will show up for the playoffs in Game 4 tonight.

It would be nice to see the Wizards and Cavaliers display the kind of nastiness that is evident in many of the NBA’s playoff venues.

Even the notorious peacenik Steve Nash is showing his agitation with the Lakers.

Even Kwame Brown — yes, that Kwame Brown — is discovering the benefit of having a massive body.

All we have in the Wizards-Cavaliers series so far is the court jester Damon Jones calling Brendan “I Love my Mamma” Haywood a baby. That is not fair to newborns.

By now, the Wizards should be tiring of the multiple ugly-face poses of LeBron James and the postgame hosannas cast in his direction by Mike Brown, who, believe it or not, has the title of head coach with the Cavaliers.

As the NBA equivalent of Old Faithful, Brown gushes endlessly about James, which can lead to extreme nausea if you are not wise enough to wear earplugs around him.

It is fairly pathetic, this love-fest series, except for the two semi-hard fouls imposed on James by Jared Jeffries and Haywood in Game 2.

Maybe Scott Jackson has it correct. Maybe Haywood’s semi-hard foul on James was an accident precipitated by the tripping of his feet.

It certainly seemed so in Game 3, when the Wizards snapped photographs of James’ repeated journeys to the basket. It is a wonder the Wizards did not exchange high-five slaps with James after each basket and vow never to wash their hands again.

No one with the Wizards seemed to mind that a 21-year-old playoff neophyte was in the process of defeating the home team all by himself. No one seemed to recall how out of sorts James became in Game 2 after the Wizards had the temerity to invade his space.

Both teams went about their latest business as if it was a preseason game in Barrow, Alaska. Neither the Softies nor the Witnesses deserved to win Game 3. In fact, it should have gone down as a tie out of indifference.

Brown noted the 28 shot attempts of James leading to 41 points, as if this was an achievement worthy of instant enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.

A 90-year-old man pushing a walker and carrying an oxygen tank could have driven to the basket on the Wizards. Haywood’s only response would have been to wipe the drool off the person’s face.

Lots could be made of the faulty officiating, especially how it favored James.

He was allowed about 10 steps on his last field goal, which was a few too many, even by the permissive standards of the NBA.

But how can you emphasize the faults of the three referees after all the gross failures of the Wizards?

The Wizards should know by now that the NBA is betting much of its empire on James, even if he does lack the transcendent appeal of Michael Jordan.

James gets all kinds of whistles, sometimes if you just eyeball him, while hard-nosed Caron Butler cannot get a whistle after he has been thrown to the floor and kicked into submission.

The Amish-looking center of the Cavaliers receives more love from the referees than Butler, and he is an incredibly difficult person to take seriously.

The Wizards possibly could have helped Butler’s cause with the referees if they had been able to complete an entry pass to him whenever the 73-year-old Eric Snow was pretending to be a defender in his vicinity.

Yet the Wizards’ 2-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series is not about the officiating or the oppressive hot air around James or the senior citizenship of Snow.

It is mostly about the Wizards’ lack of urgency and grit.

And they should be sick about it.

The Cavaliers wanted to roll over in Game 3. All they needed was a show of conviction from the Wizards.

Instead, the Wizards puckered up their lips and said, “You go, LeBron.”

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