- 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.

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