Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis takes a light swipe at journalist

Ted Leonsis (Photo: Sabretooth's House)

Last night the Washington Wizards beat the Charlotte Bobcats 108-75 ending its seven game losing streak. Yesterday, was also an interesting day as former Wizards PG Gilbert Arenas made his debut with the Orlando Magic in Atlanta versus the Hawks.

Well it would appear that the Washington Post had a decision to make – send its Wizards/NBA beat writer, Michael Lee, to cover the Wizards (minus John Wall, Yi Jianlian and Rashard Lewis) in a contest between the 4th and 5th place teams in the Southeast division or fly him to Atlanta to cover Gilbert Arenas’ debut in a game between the 2nd and 3rd placed teams in the Southeast division. Well it appears that the Washington Post made its decision and Ted Leonsis, on his Ted’s Take blog, took a light swipe at the journalist (and by extension the paper).

Click here to read the full post.

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Wizards Win NBA Draft Lottery and Some in the Media Lose Their Ever-Loving Minds

A few years ago, one could argue that the Wizards became the darling of the NBA.  Under Ernie Grunfeld and Eddie Jordan the Wizards made the playoffs four years in a row and, as many of us who live in the DMV have heard much too often, they even had the best record in the East – prior to the 06/07 All-Star break.  Hell, as recently as this season, the Wizards were a popular candidate to again compete with the best in the East.

However, today most in the popular press want to lead off their Wizards draft lottery stories by focusing on the infamous gun issue and use it to describe what prevented the Wizards from recapturing the glories of its recent past.  More insulting still, they want to use it as a means to describe the Wizards franchise as a fatally flawed organization that no one would want to play for.  And while that incident clearly, was a significant contributing factor, there were many other issues that plagued the team.  And all of those issues in total, ultimately wrecked the 2009/10 Wizards season.  (I highly recommend reading Michael Lee of the Post, Truthaboutit.net and Bulletsforever.com to get a broader perspective on all of the issues that undermined the 09/10 Wizards season.)

It is easier, however, to focus only on the more salacious and dysfunctional story of Gilbert and the guns.  It is also easier to characterize the Wizards organization as the Raiders of the NBA or the Clippers of the East.  And while the Wizards have not had the same level of success as it did in the 70s, it is not accurate to describe them in the same manner as the Clippers.  It may shorten your copy to pretend as if the Wizards recent stretch of playoff appearances did not occur.  Selectively focusing on a few facts tightens up the story, but it also serves to aggravate those of us who follow the team faithfully.

This post isn’t just about the way in which the franchise has been characterized.  I also have issues with a number of story lines and/or recommendations that have been floated since the Wizards won the draft lottery.  I have paraphrased and responded to some of my favorites:

The Wizards may trade the pick:

This thought is just insane and I will not waste any more keystrokes on this.

Winning the lottery means that the Wizards will/should trade Arenas:

There were multiple variations of this floated by many different journalists and “experts.”  I believe this is a ridiculous claim and I will pick this up later in this posting.  However, those who floated the idea have clearly not listened to the things that Ted Leonsis has said publicly.  I believe that Gilbert Arenas will be (and should be) a Wizard next season.

Should the Wizards take Wall or Turner with the first pick?:

Most have said that the Wizards should draft Wall – and I am of that camp.  However a few, including Tim Legler on ESPN, floated the idea that they should take Turner – even though he contradicted himself by saying that Wall would be the first pick.  There are plenty of places on the net in which you can find stats on both players until you are warm and fuzzy, but here are a couple thoughts that jumped out to me:

  • Magic Johnson who I believe is the best PG ever immediately stated that the Wizards have to take Wall because he will be a special player.  I am inclined to believe that Magic has forgotten more about the position of PG than the majority of us have ever known.  So his recommendation carries more weight for me than nearly every other person who is not named Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  Sorry, Tim Legler that goes for you too.
  • While Turner appears that he will be a very solid (if not special) pro, I give Wall credit for having to play the entire season with the label as “the man.”  Just as importantly he did not fold or disappoint, while carrying that label and he outplayed most on his more talent rich team.  Many did not start talking about Turner until some of his more amazing performances in March.  I will continue to lean towards a person who had more pressure and performed consistently at a high level for an entire season.

And finally…

Gilbert Arenas and John Wall can’t play on the same team or in the same backcourt:

I believe this opinion is based on feelings and not based in fact.  Not only do I think that these two can and will play for the same team.  I think that they will form an incredible backcourt.

First, let me point out that I believe that Gilbert will grow following his recent self-inflicted wounds.  He is no longer the youngest guy on the roster,  this last issue almost sent him to jail and nearly ended his career.  I believe that this served as the wakeup call that he needed.  I also believe that he will come back more highly motivated than ever.

Those who don’t think Gil can play with Wall clearly forget that Gil truly enjoyed playing in a two guard system with Larry Hughes.  More pressure was put on him to score when Larry left and then he had to share the backcourt with combinations that included Daniels, Butler, and Stevenson (during the 05/06 and 06/07 seasons) – none of which struck fear in the competition.  Adding someone as dynamic as Wall will provide Arenas with his best backcourt mate since Larry Hughes, while reducing the need for him to constantly handle the ball and run the offense.  Just as importantly, it puts pressure on the competition to decide how best to match up with the two of them.

And for those that want to talk about Arenas’ knee injury and whether he had fully recovered, it is true that early in the season he had struggled, but much of that was fitting into a new system with additional responsibilities.  Prior to the suspension, Gilbert was having a comparable season, Per 36 minutes, to both the 05/06 & 06/07 campaigns.  In December Gilbert appeared to be rounding back into form and while his scoring numbers were in his normal range, more impressive was that he had superior assist numbers.

I don’t believe that Gilbert is going to come back and be a problem.  I believe that he will be highly focused and motivated, and when you combine that with his already high work ethic and the stage is set for an extremely productive season.  Pairing him in the backcourt with a talent like John Wall could create a tandem that you cannot find in the NBA.

One of the weaknesses that the Wizards have had is the lack of a true Point Guard.  Well, with some poor play and a great deal of luck they have the opportunity to select a potential star at the position.  I suggest they take the potential star and deal with any “potential” issues as they develop.  Unlike many in the popular press, I don’t think there will be any issue between Arenas and Wall.  Gilbert has proven that he is willing and able to adapt his play to fit with another talented guard.

Close call at DeShawn’s house

I’ve been reading Ivan Carter’s and Tim Lemke’s versions of the shooting in front of DeShawn’s house.  First, let me point out that it is good that no one got injured – with the exception of the person who, reportedly, started all of the drama.  Depending on which version you believe there is some doubt between whether DeShawn was sleep when the shots began at his house.  The reality is who cares whether he was sleep or not.  The fact so far is that he is not being accused of doing anything illegal.  The reality is no one involved is talking – at least not on record.  If he was up at 4 AM and returning from a nightclub, with a bunch of women, instead of being at home sleep… again who cares?  The last I checked he is a 26 year old man who is capable of coming home in the off-season whenever he feels like coming home.  Unless he is being accused of or being charged with something criminal – which he his not – I could care less.

 

What I do have a problem with is the fact that Tim Lemke felt it was necessary to point out a misdemeanor statutory rape charge from DeShawn’s past.  One in which he served the punishment that the courts handed down, and to the best of our knowledge has never repeated.  More importantly what does that situation from 5 years ago have to do with this incident?  In a word…nothing.  I would understand if DeShawn had gun charges in his past, then that might be relevant to point out.  It would have been relevant if the ladies that were reportedly at his house were underage, then that fact would have been relevant.  But as the facts currently stand, that information did not contribute at all to his story.  I would love to hear what Tim expected the reader to gain from that fact?

 

What this story clearly points out is that as a celebrity, you need to be extremely careful.  Even when it appears that you did nothing wrong, a story like this can take on a life of its own.  From the facts that we know a man (Curtis Ruff) with a criminal past (and present) gained illegal access into DeShawn’s gated community.  He then began arguing with a woman who was in the company of DeShawn and/or his friends.  That man, who again was on the property illegally, then reportedly fired his weapon damaging private property.  Finally, the man who reportedly conducted all of these crimes was the only person to sustain an injury.  While I am not a newspaper reporter like Tim Lemke, it appears to be fairly easy to point out the facts without linking someone’s past to the present – especially when there does not appear to be a good reason to do so.

 

 Can we go back to focusing on basketball now?

McGuire deal done

Yesterday, Ivan Carter reported that the Wizards were able to get a contract done with Dominic McGuire.  This is great news.  This young guy provides tools that not many of the other Wizards provide.  And while cash is getting tight for the Wiz, I for one am glad they were able to sign him.  I still can’t believe that they were able to pick him up in the second round.  Now let’s just hope that in a few years he doesn’t bounce to a new team like Gilbert, who also was a second round steal, did from Golden State to the Wiz.

Ok so Blatche, who has not yet signed a new agreement, was arrested allegedly on solicitation charges.  My issue with this situation is not the typical prostitution is illegal mumbo jumbo, but rather:

  • Can’t you lay low for a few more days or weeks until you sign your new agreement?  Any “trouble,” however small or large will only cause you money

  • You are a NBA player and many young ladies (and not so young) will gladly “hang out with you”

  • If you want some no-strings, non-gold digger action, can’t you open up a phone book, sports section, hell a web directory for that matter to find a “short-term date?”

 

Everyone needs a little loving from time to time, but don’t be foolish and cause yourself money.  If I was a professional athlete, which clearly I am not, I can not imagine that I would ever attempt to pick up a working girl during a time when my agent is attempting to get me a new contract.

Andray, I don’t care who you are with behind closed doors.  That is your business.  I would strongly recommend that you avoid high risk situations – situations that are highly likely to cause you a great deal of embarrassment and grief.

Blatche first then McGuire

Well according to Ivan Carter it appears that the talks with Andray Blatche are creeping closer to a close.  I for one am very happy.  My personal belief is that Andray is an important part of the new Wizards nucleus – which should position them to have success in the short-term but also position them well for continued success in the future.  In virtually every sport, the most successful franchises find ways to keep their young talented players and grow them within the organization.  Andray is one of those players for the Wiz.  And while $11M over 3 years is not a monster contract in NBA terms, he is young enough that he will be able to earn a much bigger payday in the not too distant future.

 

Just as importantly, getting this deal done, cost effectively, should make it easier for the Wiz to sign my new favorite “youngin”… Dominic McGuire.  I was one of the freaks who watched every moment of the Wiz summer league games (thank you Tivo!) and I was very surprised and impressed by McGuire.  (Disclaimer – I fully understand that these were SL games and not NBA pre-season or regular season games)  During the SL, McGuire appeared to be the type of player that they need – one that was able to block shots, defend multiple positions, handle the ball, hit jumpers, and just do the dirty work.   While he finished as one of their leading scorers in the SL, he was able to make an impact on the game in nearly every facet of the game.  I look forward to the preseason and seeing him with the big boys.  Ernie easily found a first round talent in the second round.  It was wonderful to see the Wiz SL team with the equivalent of 3 first rounders on the floor.