- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Brendan Haywood is the pouter without a cause, to rework the title of an old flick.

He left the team’s bench in the final seconds of Game 4 and made the solitary trek to the locker room, no doubt with the conviction that Eddie Jordan is the most unfair coach in the history of the game.

This would be gut-splitting stuff if Haywood did not truly believe he is the victim of a vast conspiracy, right wing or left immaterial.

Haywood always has a quick retort for those who question his attitude and production — minutes.

Haywood’s obsession with minutes is not unusual in the NBA. It is the one column of the box score that is controlled by the coach. And if a coach is not inclined to grant a player sufficient minutes, a player is not able to fill up the rest of the columns in the box score to his liking.

If Jordan ever could grasp the error of his thinking, Haywood would be a triple-double center.

At least that is the implication from Haywood.

It is all on Jordan in Haywood’s opinion.

If so, it is all on Haywood to handle the slight with a modicum of professionalism.

This remains beyond his capacity.

Haywood earned $4.5 million this past season to assuage his frustration. He has another $16.5 million, all guaranteed, coming his way the next three seasons, wherever that might be, though anywhere but Tony Cheng’s neighborhood.

Haywood went from the doghouse to the outhouse with his last display of petulance, from leaving the bench early to removing the name plate above his locker stall.

The latter was perhaps Haywood’s signal saying he wants out, although interpreting the removal of a name plate can be more problematic than reading tea leaves.

His was not a wise gesture, which is consistent with the person.

He was having a self-absorbed snit, while his teammates were dealing with the disappointing end of a season that once held so much promise.

At 27, Haywood is what he is and what he always will be as a player. He has failed to recognize that elementary proposition, which is his everlasting curse.

If the Wizards could transplant Michael Ruffin’s mind-set to Haywood, they just might have had a modestly competent center.

Instead, they function with the ball and chain of the center position, whether because of Haywood’s soft-minded temperament or because of the lack of stature and skill of the Poet and Ruffin.

Andray Blatche, however young and inexperienced, showed the beneficial properties of enthusiasm and energy in Game 4.

He finished with seven points and five rebounds in 21 minutes and probably did not have a clue how he did it. He merely hustled while he was on the floor, and hustle served him well.

Haywood has able teachers in the locker room, whether Antawn Jamison or Antonio Daniels, both willing to sacrifice their numbers for the good of the team, as we saw in the Wizards-Cavaliers series.

Jamison averaged 32 points and 9.8 rebounds in the four games, Daniels 13.3 points and 11.8 assists, gaudy numbers posted in the absence of Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.

Yet with Arenas and Butler in the lineup, neither player ever has felt compelled to make demands, either more shots in Jamison’s case or more minutes in Daniels’ case.

Each petition would be considerably stronger than Haywood’s.

Haywood, alas, is incapable of extracting a lesson from them.

He has had a sweet deal on Fun Street, his performance bar set relatively low.

No one expects him to be an All-Star, just a consistent contributor along the order of 10 points and 10 rebounds a game.

Instead, he has fought with Kwame Brown and the Poet, he has giggled with Jared Jeffries, he has sulked around Jordan and now the name plate above his locker stall is gone.

He could end up running to another NBA city.

But Haywood will find that he cannot run from himself, which is the problem.

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