Mike Wise
Mike Wise
Columnist

Andray Blatche among out-of-shape athletes to weigh down D.C. teams

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post - When it comes to being in shape, Andray Blatche doesn’t make the cut.

Of all the “Did Not Play” and “Not With Team” reasons recorded in the annals of American box scores — “DNP-Coach’s Decision,” “NWT- Family Emergency” — I never thought I would see this one in the middle of March from the Washington Wizards:

Andray Blatche: NWT — Conditioning.”

Let’s think about this for a moment: An NBA player whose primary job is to stay in shape so he can help his team win basketball games — and who has been playing actual games for the Wizards after returning from injury — is actually in worse condition at the end of the season than the start of training camp.

Furthermore, Wizards Coach Randy Wittman is such a magnanimous individual he has decided to give a huffing-and-puffing ’Dray a few weeks off until he gets his wind back.

“We thought we could maybe try to play him into shape once he got back,” Wittman said earlier this week, announcing the “shutdown” of Blatche. “After looking at it, it’s unfair for me to put him in that position, and I think what we’re going to do, we’re going to probably not play him for a while, get him on a program here, where he can really go after it from a conditioning standpoint to get himself back into shape. It’s not fair for me to do that to the kid.”

What a humanitarian. What a thoughtful, compassionate leader. What a . . . crock.

Why we never have championship parades anymore in this town: Because some of our highest-paid players in professional sports have been so slovenly and so out of shape recently they cannot pass conditioning drills or run up and down courts with their superior-conditioned peers.

Oh, yes, and their enabling organizations send them home so they can presumably eat more!

Washington — the anti-cardio capital of pro sports.

Blatche couldn’t find the Stairmaster in the corner. Albert Haynesworth couldn’t run 300 yards in, like, 10 minutes. When the defensive lineman failed to pass a conditioning test with the team in July 2010, the Onion’s headline the next month read, “Report: Albert Haynesworth Just A Mound Of Ice Cream And Hot Dogs.”

Alex Ovechkin, now a fairly svelte 224 pounds, has taken a more serious approach to his fitness of late. But he has admitted he is not a workout maven, that he can be Captain Chub-a-Lub. “At some point it has to kick in, you have to train . . . ” Capitals General Manager George McPhee said in a recent radio interview, referring to Ovechkin’s fitness. Asked about his star’s ability to pack on pounds, McPhee added, “I think the progression in his weights, he came in 218, 224, 232, 237, 242.”

At 242, you might as well call yourself The Great Ate, no?

Perhaps I should have warned Blatche he could be heading down this road in January of last year. When I asked him about his workout regimen, he replied: “When I do lift, I’m the type of person, I don’t see results at all. I mean, I tried everything, man. I got a chef so I could start getting as healthy as I could eat.”

Who, Paula Deen?

Sometimes I feel like when Washington’s less-disciplined athletes hear Nike’s ancient workout slogan, “Just Do It,” they respond by racing to an agreed-upon destination at 3 a.m., whereby they announce to a speaker: “Double. With cheese.”

Coaches like Wittman aren’t helping, either; they are softies on their players who order Frosties.

Take the compassionate Mike Shanahan, who says he benched Donovan McNabb for not being in shape to run the two-minute drill in November of 2010 — so he didn’t get hurt.

“Not only does your cardiovascular endurance have to be there but you have two plays that you have to call in the huddle, you have to move up to the line very quickly to execute the two-minute offense and I really didn’t feel Donovan, relative to not being able to get any cardiovascular endurance and run the two-minute offense the last four or five weeks, that I would put him into a situation that would just injure him,” Shanny said at time.

With Blatche and the like, maybe we don’t need coaches here as much as we need Chris Powell, the happy-pills trainer for “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition,” who turns 500-pound obese behemoths into 200-pound lean machines. Or — heraldic trumpets please — an athlete who actually does take his conditioning seriously.

Lorenzo Alexander came into the NFL at 315 burly pounds. He wanted to be a defensive lineman. When they told him they needed him to be a linebacker, he shed some 70 pounds. The special-teams player for the Redskins now walks around about 240-245 pounds of mostly muscle.

“I began cycling, then I tried some Pilates,” said Alexander, who actually opened a Pilates studio in Ashburn with teammate Kedric Golston. “I got away from carbs and sugar. It’s about motivation.”

I ask what Haynesworth ate at his training table when they were teammates. “It wasn’t salad,” he said, chuckling.

When told he could invite Blatche to his Pilates studio and become “The Man Who Got Andray Blatche In Shape,” Alexander added: “I can’t deal with those type of guys. Why? Because guys that talented just bug those of us not blessed with those kind of gifts. You’re throwing your blessing away. I can’t train a guy like that because you tell him to do it, he’s not going to do it.”

“Even people on the ‘Biggest Loser,’ at some point they realize, ‘It’s on me.’ Until that happens, you got no shot at getting anyone in shape.”

Blatche recently tweeted that he was heading to work out at roughly 3:45 a.m. “It’s the best time for me to do something,” Blatche told The Post’s Gene Wang regarding working out 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.”

I have a better idea: Do what the Corinthians soccer club in Brazil did to former star Adriano earlier this year. They locked his overweight derriere in a room at the team hotel, ordering him to go on a strict diet until he got back in shape.

Said physical trainer Fabio Mahseredjian: “We locked him here because this way we can have more control of what he eats, of how he rests. You can only lose weight if you stop eating.”

The club finally released Adriano earlier this month.

Brazilian stars Ronaldinho and Ronaldo have also struggled with their weight, which is why there are no parades in Rio either these days.

Until Blatche gets back in shape, until everyone reports to training camp in every sport here with the combined body fat of a hamster, the national anthem should be replaced by old-school rap, something that truly expresses commitment:

“Fat Boys are back, Fat Boys are back . . . Huh-huh-huh-huh.”

For Mike Wise’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/wise.

 
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