A couple hours before Wednesday night produced the most joyous Wizards moment since Jan Vesely smooched his girlfriend on national TV, the mood was grim. Fans, according to live reports from my media colleagues, were out for blood. Or at least were booing a lot.
A few of the contemporaneous accounts:
Michael Lee: Andray Blatche was booed in pre-game introductions!?! At home!?! Wow, people. Let him take a shot 1st.
Wizards Extreme: Fans booing Andray Blatche early.
Worldwide James: Nothing makes me happier than booing Andray Blatche. Season tickets were worth it. #boo
Gene Wang: In first five minutes, Wizards have an airball, two near airballs and been booed 3 times.
Dan Hellie: Blatche about to come in game. Fans scream boo keep him on bench.
And so on and so forth. Of course, wouldn’t you know, the Wizards went on to beat one of the NBA’s best teams, and Blatche had a double-double, and the team left the court to a standing ovation. And then after the game, reporters asked Blatche about his treatment from fans.
“Aw man,” he said. “From the time they called my name out. I mean, I tried to keep my head, just stay in the game, just help my teammates. Most important thing is we won.”
Then he was asked how he dealt with the fan response emotionally.
“Man, it was just in my head, it was just in my head,” he said. “I was just like, I don’t know. Roger [Mason] had my back, he tried to keep my head and keep me focused. That’s what teammates are for, to pick me up and keep me going.”
And then he was asked whether that had ever happened to him before.
“Nah nah, that was just terrible,” Blatche said. “I mean, last year I missed that layup, but intros? I was like, aw, man. Hey man, we won. If they want to do that every night and we win, I don’t care.”
We Love DC’s Patrick Pho then asked Mason what he said to Blatche.
“I just told him focus on the game,” Mason said. “When you’re 1-12, they’re gonna always look at the top players, and Dre’s one of our top guys. So I told him just focus on playing, keep being unselfish. He doesn’t get enough credit for the type of teammate he’s been lately. And that’s all we can do, move forward with how he’s playing....
“Hey look, these fans pay a lot of money to come see the team play. They have a right to boo or do whatever they want to do. I don’t think he gets enough credit for the type of teammate he is now, and that’s all you can focus on, what he’s doing now. And tonight he was a great teammate, he has been the last few weeks, and that’s a good thing.”
(The video is here, but it features lots of shots of half-naked players, so I didn’t feel like embedding it. And yes, that’s John Wall above, but I liked the image.)