Professional athletes can’t function that way. The best ones use fan chatter for extra motivation.
During a game early in his career, a fan heckled Michael Jordan for dunking over a player who was shorter than him. The next time Jordan’s team had the ball, Jordan dunked over a 7-4 center. While running back upcourt, Jordan turned to the fan and asked, “Was he big enough?”
Obviously, Jordan was unique. Not only was he the greatest player in NBA history, he was one of the mentally toughest athletes ever. Blatche shouldn’t be expected to feed off the crowd like Jordan.
But the fact that Blatche is so psyched out about the booing, and willing to acknowledge it publicly, shows how low he’s sunk.
Blatche’s concern about fan reaction is impeding his job performance, as evidenced by his personal-low 37.7-percent shooting. (His career mark of 45.8 percent is actually solid).
He personifies everything that frustrates Wizards fans about the organization. In touting the team’s players, management often focuses on statistics and physical potential while ignoring the importance of maturity and basketball smarts.
Considering Blatche’s lack of confidence and productivity, not to mention his questionable off-court conduct, it’s difficult to imagine a team would trade for him unless the Wizards were also willing to give up something significant as well.
By the end of Blatche’s contract, the Wizards would have paid him more than $40 million. That kind of investment is hard to write off. It’s understandable the Wizards would want compensation for Blatche — but that doesn’t mean they’ll get it.
When it’s clear something cannot continue, the most prudent move — and often the only one — is to swallow hard and cut your losses. After the trading deadline, the Wizards may have to finally accept they’ve reached that point with Blatche.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns go to washingtonpost.com/reid.