- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ed Tapscott has been around basketball in Washington and elsewhere for what seems forever, but I doubt he has ever felt as honored as he does now.

I don’t mean because he’s the Washington Wizards‘ interim coach, which would seem the hoops equivalent of being Ralph Nader. Nope, Ed probably received sort of an ultimate tribute the other day when Caron Butler, the redoubtable Wizards forward, compared him to President-elect Barack Obama.

Perhaps Butler was out of his mind with joy after the 1-10 Wizards zapped the Warriors by 24 points in Tapscott’s debut. At any rate, he gave his new coach the kind of ringing endorsement John McCain never got from President Bush.

In case too much turkey and stuffing has clouded your memory, here’s what Caron said, as reported by Mike Jones, The Washington Times’ Wizards beat writer:

“Now [that] we’ve got Obama on the sideline with us, we’re going to ride with it. … He’s light-skinned. He stands for change. He’s got a law degree. Uses big words, and he’s new in the District, and he’s in control now. So shout out to Obama.”

Funny, Butler didn’t mention the nothing-but-net shot Obama famously hit from the corner at a high school gym on the campaign trail. Probably he figures the 44th president won’t miss in the White House either.

Of course, Butler could have been speaking with tongue tucked firmly in cheek. After all, he’s one of those millionaires Obama wants to zap when it comes to income tax time. Heck, in the NBA, 5-foot-7, third-string guards with shooting averages of 28 percent make more than $250,000 - the president-elect’s stated cutoff point for feeling the pinch on April 15.

Now, I haven’t discussed Butler’s remarks with Tapscott — I couldn’t get through Ed’s Secret Service detail — but I hope all this praise doesn’t go to his head. He’s always been a very accessible guy, and I’d hate to see that change.

Unfortunately, the comparison should provide ample ammunition for opposing fans when the Wizards resume playing regularly like the Wizards, meaning like a bunch of Sarah Palins in short pants. (No, I take that back, because Palin was a pretty good hoopster before getting into politics and driving the lane against Democrats hither, thither and yon.)

I can hear the boobirds in Philly screeching, “Tapscott, ya bum, why don’t you issue an executive order declaring it unlawful for anybody to make JaVale McGee look like a raw rookie in the paint?” or “Hey, Ed, get your bony butt back to Chicago and organize some more communities!”

Worse yet, imagine team president Ernie Grunfeld, at the end of the Wizards’ 30-52 season, telling Tapscott, “I’m sorry, Mr. President, but we’ve decided to deny you a second term.”

But for now anyway, Ed is the man in charge, and I can see the sportswriters rising when he enters the room for a postgame press conference after the Wizards have lost to the Celtics 128-73. By this time, he might be speaking like Obama, too.

TAPSCOTT: “I have a short opening statement: When in the name of Jimmy Naismith does Gilbert Arenas return? Now I’ll take your questions.”

REPORTER: “Mr. President, what can you do to improve this team after 18 losses in 20 games?”

TAPSCOTT: “That was … an excellent question. There’s no question … we must change … but it must be change we can believe in. Therefore, I am appointing a blue-ribbon commission to determine … why we couldn’t defend against an opponent starting five Republican senior citizens.”

REPORTER: “Mr. President, is it true that you are considering calling in Rev. Jeremiah Wright to give your team an inspirational speech?”

TAPSCOTT: “Look, that’s simply … not true. I was a member of Rev. Wright’s congregation for 20 years … but I never heard him make … any inspirational speeches.”

REPORTER: “Mr. President, you said during the campaign that ‘Our time is now.’ Do you feel this is the Wizards’ time to start playing like a real NBA team and win, oh, two or three games in a row?”

TAPSCOTT: “Beats the devil out of me. … Caron, you want to take that one?”

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