The Wizards aren’t exactly helping my cause to rally some NBA interest around The Loss Column. They have started off the year 0-3, their worst since the ’92-’93 season, losing to the Pacers, the Celtics, and the Magic. The main culprit has been their poor shooting, with Gilbert Arenas only sinking 33% of his shots and 1 out 17 three-pointers. He’s not the only one to blame, though, with Jamison and Butler helping compile an historically bad 0-22 stretch from beyond the arc. The Wizards are a team that relies on momentum and a fast-paced, jump-shooting offense to fire on all cylinders. When it doesn’t, they can look completely uninspired.
The thing is, Gilbert hasn’t been helping recently, and not just because of his poor shooting. Before I say why, credit goes to him for 1) single-handedly forcing fans and media to finally regard him as the superstar he is and 2)shamelessly stealing his nickname, Agent Zero, from wizznutzz.com and getting fans and media to actually use it. Commendable. But starting last season, he’s been using his “secret weapon” blog to pump up his swagger image and ruffle his opponent’s feathers. Mind you, it’s all with a certain Gilbert-esque quirkiness that, for some reason or another, you know is more about poking fun than starting beef. He’s a popular cat around the league and a known jokester, so the issue isn’t that he’s a poor sportsman. It’s that he’s putting too much pressure on himself, especially after coming off of knee surgery, and drawing too much attention to his team, which hasn’t proved to shine under pressure in the past.
Going into the Celtics game, he “guaranteed” a win in Boston over the “old” Big Three, the kind of jive that obviously gets pounced on, regurgitated by the media, and relayed to fans. The Gahden was packed and it was pissed. For nearly three quarters, Gilbert was booed vigorously every time he touched the ball. With all the pomp and ceremony of christening the parquet floor with Red Auerbach‘s name, the emotional speech by Paul Pierce, and the packed seats eager to see KG, it was a playoff atmosphere in which Washington had no chance succeeding. It was game 2, Gilbert, let’s save the shit-talking for at least the second week, eh?
Make no mistake, though, the Wiz will get hot. They started off slow last year before finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference before the All-Star break. The one positive so far has been the astonishing play of much-maligned center Brendan Haywood. He was leading the league in rebounds last week (he’s tied for 5th now), and he’s been a beast down low, finally showing his potential with Eddie Jordon giving him the minutes he’s been whining about not getting in past years. By the time Etan Thomas gets back from open-heart surgery, he may have lost his starting job. Fortunately for him, Andray Blatche still isn’t getting the minutes he needs to be effective.
In other Wizards news, Caron Butler was named team captain, which makes sense. While Jamison has always appeared to be the leader, I’m not so sure that was the case. Your Baltimore Bullets will continue their long break and take on the New Jersey Nets at 7:30EST on Thursday.
Jersey tidbit: One time I had to make a pit stop in Jersey. I took an exit off of the NJ Turnpike and, I kid you not, saw these three landmarks on the same road through my pollution-stung eyes, one after the other: landfill, factory, cemetery.