Tom Knott: Wizards’ Haywood finds his voice
Welcome to the media jungle, Brendan Haywood. That acknowledgement probably is long overdue, given his growing body of work, starting with providing color commentary of the Mystics in 2003.
Excuse anyone for thinking the initial foray was a diversion to fill up the summer calendar.
Now he is a blogger and a one-time radio host on FM-106.7 after putting in time with Comcast SportsNet last winter. He has barely cleared his throat. Being in the chattering class is his post-basketball aspiration.
“Being in the media, it’s not easy,” Haywood says.
Tell me about it. Stuff is always being misinterpreted.
His off-handed crack on the nut who is Stephon Marbury led to a misunderstanding and an apology.
“I’ve learned very, very early that you have to be politically correct because people have thin skin,” Haywood says.
A permeable skin would not be Haywood, the target of a number of objections from this space at the height of his quarrel with Eddie Jordan.
Now we’re talking, “the homeless-looking white dude” and the 7-footer with the sharp wit brokering a peace of sorts. The uneasiness was so many seasons ago before his long hours in the gym produced a spike in quality. The aging process sharpened the maturing level.
With Harvey Grant in tow, Haywood would stand at the free throw line after practice and make one shot after another. Then he would split two free throw attempts in a game. It is impossible to duplicate game conditions in an empty gym.
One game-like measure with a tormented free throw shooter is to have the player jog to the opposite free throw line and back before taking two free throw attempts and repeating the process. This increases the heart rate, similar to what a player would be feeling in a game, and eliminates a misleading rhythm from being established.
Yet Haywood’s work there eventually led to the fashioning of a statistical anomaly: a significant climb in free throw proficiency from 54.8 percent in 2007 to 73.5 percent in 2008.
We’ll see whether the correction sticks this season after Haywood missed all but six games last year. He is going into the final year of his contract - he is looking at rental properties by Union Station on this day - and awaiting the final outcome on Gilbert Arenas.
“As long as we have our leader back and he is healthy, we’ll be fine,” he says. “Fifty wins - that’s a lofty goal. But I definitely think 50 is within our grasp.”
That assessment comes from a combination of the player and the media guy.