- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2007

CLEVELAND. — Brendan Haywood must have taken his nasty pills before Game 2 last night.

He must have grown tired of reading and hearing what a pouter and 7-foot enigma he is.

He must have grown tired of reading and hearing how coach Eddie Jordan said he would have no problem with employing a 5-foot-2 person at center, so long as the person played with smarts and heart.

The implication was fairly obvious.

We have to assume this message stuck with Haywood.

That was Haywood throwing an elbow in the chest of Anderson Varejao in the third quarter. That was Haywood yapping away, picking up a technical foul.

This was the subplot of what has become an all too familiar outcome: The undermanned Wizards put up the good but doomed fight before losing to the Cavaliers 109-102.

Perhaps Haywood can pack some of the grit and bring it to Fun Street this weekend.

Perhaps he can make it personal again.

“Brendan’s passion and energy, it was good,” Jordan said. “It was good to see that from him. Maybe it got a little bit out of hand there.”

Maybe. But it beats the alternative.

That was Haywood dunking on Zydrunas Ilgauskas and leading the fastbreak at one point.

That was Haywood displaying more emotion in one game than in a month’s worth of games.

This was not the Haywood who comes down with mysterious head colds or suffers from back pain at the most suspicious times. This was not the Haywood who sometimes shuts it down or faints in the presence of physical players.

That is the bad Haywood.

This was the Haywood who finished with 13 points and four rebounds in 18-plus minutes. This was the Haywood who actually seemed to care.

This was the good Haywood, the one Doug Collins once compared to a young Robert Parish.

That seems so long ago, an innocent time in the development of Haywood.

We now have to read Haywood’s body language. We now have to consult with psychics and palmists. We now have to read the fortune cookies in Tony Cheng’s neighborhood. And still we ask: Which Haywood do we get next?

This is the question that has baffled and taunted Jordan the last four seasons. It is the question with no definitive answers. It is the question that could torment the mental-health community, social scientists and behaviorists. Which Haywood do we get next?

Jordan could grow fond of the Haywood who exercised his ire on the player known as the Wild Thing.

Haywood told the Wild Thing a thing or three, and you could hear all of the District asking: “Where has that passion been?”

Haywood showed no weakness around the Wild Thing, who is kind of emotional in that World Cup soccer way.

When Haywood let the Wild Thing have it, you expected the Wild Thing to fall to the floor and start flopping around as if he had been mortally wounded, only to magically spring up the moment the referee’s call was made.

That is vintage World Cup action.

Instead, the Wild Thing threw up both arms in frustration as Haywood continued to bark in his direction.

Haywood then implored the crowd to let him have it, to unleash its boos.

The Wild Thing was the Poor Thing.

But what can you expect from a player who wears a dark fright wig, which is better than the sad patch of hair on the back of Drew Gooden’s head?

Anyway, with the Cavaliers going up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, the Wizards are one game from despair, two from elimination.

Antawn Jamison, who scored a game-high 31 points, insists the battered Wizards remain confident.

“Once again, we just have to play smarter,” Jamison said. “They go on those spurts because we might take a couple of difficult shots or commit a couple of turnovers.”

The Wizards are playing as if they want to extend the season beyond Monday.

That includes Haywood.

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