One night after Andray Blatche’s stat line across the box score read “NWT-Conditioning” in a 108-89 victory over New Jersey, the Wizards’ one-time starting power forward spoke about a lost season, what level of responsbility he bears and the measures he’s taking to ensure there won’t be a repeat.
The seventh-year player has missed 20 of Washington’s 46 games this season, including 16 with a strained calf, and has not played since March 5. Benched on Jan. 27 in favor of rookie Jan Vesely, Blatche instead has been out so he can focus on conditioning.
“I really take full responsibility on how things have been going for me this season,” said Blatche, who’s averaging 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, his lowest totals since 2007-08.
Blatche’s seemingly cavalier attitude at times on the court has drawn the ire of Verizon Center fans on a regular basis. The acrimony reached a point where Blatche was getting booed virtually every time his name was announced over the public address system.
Blatche said he spoke with his family, including his mother, at length about fan disapproval, and his conclusion was that essentially the jeers were justified given his disappointing season.
“I can’t go home at night as say ‘Oh, F them,’ because they didn’t know anything,” Blatche said. “They do. They’re the fans. They see it. My mom sees it. This was a bad year for me. One of my worst ones ever.
“I let my mom down, my family down, my teammates and the whole organization down this season, so I’m just focusing on this whole rest of this time and the summer just to get myself back to where I need to be.”
A significant part of that effort has Blatche in the gym for many hours during the day as well as in the wee hours of the morning. Blatche recently tweeted that he was heading to work out at roughly 3:45 a.m.
Blatche often has been a target of fan disapproval for his apparent lack of conditioning.
“It’s the best time for me to do something,” Blatche said of exercizing during the overnight hours. “I’m up. I’m a night person, and I’m always awake, so that’s something that helps me get things off my mind.”
Blatche did not rule out coming back this season, although his demeanor during the improtu discussion with the media before Thursday night’s game against Indiana gave no indication he was optimistic about playing in any of the Wizards’ final 20 games.
Blatche had been coming off a season in which he averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, both career highs, engendering some optimism in the front office heading into this season. Now for the first time his career, Blatche will fail to improve on his scoring and rebounding from the previous season.
The Wizards actively shopped Blatche before the March 15 trade deadline, according to multiple league sources, but there were no takers.
“I knew it was a possibility of me being gone due to the bad year,” Blatche said. “Which I have nobody to blame on my bad year. It was all me. A lot of injuries, forcing myself to play through it. Coming back not ready, just stuff like that.
“So Coach [Randy Wittman] actually had a talk with me and said, ‘I feel bad for you after what I’m putting you through. You should take more time out to get yourself back ready to be the player this organiziation knows you are, and think that’s best.’ I said, ‘I agree with you 100 percent on that.’
“At this point in time, I shouldn’t be fighting through injury right now and just trying to get myself back together without any injuries at all and be able to play at 100 percent.”