- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007

You know it is October because the Wizards are again talking about the importance of playing solid team defense this season.

The Wizards are always one of the NBA’s leading defensive teams in October.

But soon enough, when the regular season is under way, the Wizards forget the defensive applications of October and revert to who they are.

The Wizards, out of safety concerns, stick out highway cones near the three-second lane and funnel the opposition to the basket in an orderly and predictable fashion, often late in the game, when a defensive stop would enhance their cause.

The Wizards are inclined to grant the opposition two points in exchange for a 3-pointer, sometimes a Gilbert Arenas 30-footer that decides the outcome of the game.

That is the nature of the Wizards, hard as it may be on the digestive process, especially if you have dined on Peking duck at Tony Cheng’s before walking over to the basketball den on Fun Street.

Arenas is threatening to become a committed defender one of these decades.

It starts with Arenas because everything with the Wizards starts with Arenas, even the time of a press conference that conflicts with Eddie Jordan‘s.

It is impossible to be a strong defensive team if the franchise player is concerned about dumping 80 points on Duke’s basketball team, Antawn Jamison is committed but incapable and Brendan Haywood, with his index finger raised skyward, is walking off the floor with seconds left in the game.

That leaves Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson to do the hard work, which is not a favorable proposition.

Two against five is never fun. Two against six is worse if referee Greg Willard is on the floor.

Willard has built his career on imposing technical fouls and ejections on Jordan, an otherwise level-headed person whose patience has been conditioned by the patience-testing Haywood.

Jordan always has an evenhanded thing to say about Haywood, even when Haywood’s agent goes around saying that Jordan would start a midget ahead of Haywood if there was a midget on the roster.

That is not fair to midgets, most of whom could grab one rebound in 20 minutes, if not two rebounds.

So let’s leave defense out of it this October, and nothing against the addition of Randy Ayers, a defensive-minded guru but no miracle-worker, as far as anyone knows.

The Wizards have more than enough weapons on offense to be among the elite in the Eastern Conference, and that is taking into account the rim-busting jump shot of Antonio Daniels, who leads the team in crashes underneath the basket that send him face first to the floor.

That also is considering the departure of Jarvis Hayes, the purest shooter who never was.

The development of Andray Blatche is intriguing, and not just because of his offseason conversation with a faux prostitute that did not really happen in his mind.

Insiders say Blatche actually understands the wonders of the weight room now, a revelation that could benefit him on the floor of a basketball court or nightclub, where his chance of having a conversation with a faux prostitute would be considerably less.

That is a good thing, for faux prostitutes can be distracting.

“I think the biggest thing is no outside distractions,” Jamison said of the team’s quest to claim the conference title this season. “It’s time for us to mature off the court.”

Haywood-Poet IV has been put on hold until the Poet can be cleared to resume his boxing career.

To be honest, most of us would welcome the distraction of Haywood-Poet IV over an injury to one of the Big Three.

Besides, it is impossible to throw 15 men together, along with the coaching staff and front office, and not have interpersonal issues, a few that lead to threats against one’s physical well-being.

I do not know about you, but I have yet to work in an environment that featured love, peace and harmony.

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