Wizards’ Eric Maynor returns to Oklahoma City

November 10, 2013
It's good to be back. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
It’s good to be back. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Eric Maynor was sitting in a chair, slipping on his flip-flops after the Wizards’ morning shoot-around, when Kevin Seraphin gave him a basketball and asked for a pass. Reluctantly, Maynor threw Seraphin the ball and started the countdown for a game-winner.

“Three, two, one…”

Seraphin missed.

“And the Wizards lose,” Maynor shouted, as if he was broadcasting a game.

Seraphin tried and missed again and asked for another shot.

“KS Life for the win,” Maynor shouted, using Seraphin’s favorite Twitter hashtag, but Seraphin missed again.

“And the Wizards lose again,” Maynor said.

Wizards teammates standing nearby, all started laughing. Two more times, Seraphin took a pass and missed, forcing Maynor to once again use his broadcasting voice to ask, “Why does Witt keep calling plays for this guy?”

Unwilling to leave on a miss, Seraphin gave the ball back to Maynor and said, “Okay. I will make it this time.”

When Seraphin missed for a sixth time, Maynor shook his head and headed for the team bus.

Other than Seraphin’s inability to give him an assist after shoot-around, Maynor was excited about being back in Oklahoma City, where he spent part of four seasons before getting dealt to Portland last February. In his time with the Thunder, Maynor played an instrumental role as Russell Westbrook’s backup on a team that rose from a doormat to a perennial championship contender.

“It’s cool,” Maynor said. “Had a good 3½ years here. Always good to come back here and see people that I was around for that amount of time. Looking forward to playing here.”

In his first season with the Wizards, Maynor is averaging 4.4 points and 2.8 assists and still getting accustomed to a new system and new teammates. He has the second-highest player efficiency rating behind John Wall at 19.9, but has been unable to build or hold on to leads when he enters the game. His plus-minus for the season is a minus-18, but he has managed to compile an assist to turnover ratio of 14-to-1.

“Everything has been going good,” he said. “Getting better day by day. Nowhere near where I want to be. I think I’ll get there as the season goes along.”

After helping the Thunder advance to the 2011 Western Conference finals, Maynor tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, missed the run to the NBA Finals and eventually fell out of the rotation last season. Maynor returned with the Trail Blazers and scored 10 points with four assists in a 103-83 loss.

“It was a little weird,” Maynor said of his first game back in Oklahoma City, “because like I said, I was here for a good amount of time and to go somewhere else and come back and play in front of these fans, but they gave me a little standing ovation. Everybody was clapping. It was cool. It was good to come back and play.”

Maynor expects a similar reception now that he is back with the Wizards. “I had some good years here, so it’s not like it’s no bad blood, no bad taste in my mouth as far as leaving here. I think it’ll be good because the fans are great here,” Maynor said. “These fans, they’re just loud the whole night. It’s just a great home court advantage. It’s one of the best in the NBA.”

The Wizards have never won in Oklahoma City, in six games played at Chesapeake Energy Arena, but Maynor said none of that matters. “I don’t really go off history or what happened. We’re just trying to go out tonight and worry about ourselves,” Maynor said, adding that the team has been encouraged by wins over Philadelphia and Brooklyn. “We have a lot of confidence. We needed those two, going on this tough road trip. I’m glad we were able to get two in row.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee · November 10, 2013

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