The issues facing the Wizards, the NBA’s only winless team, go much deeper than an exasperated parent trying to control his unpredictable brood. There are some things you can’t coach; caring about your job is one of them.
“We have to be real with ourselves,” said veteran Maurice Evans, who organized an air-it-out, players-only meeting a mere six games into the season. “The sense of entitlement that’s here sometimes, I’ve never seen before.”
It’s that bad? Yes, it’s that bad.
Before Sunday’s loss dropped them to 0-8 on their road to NBA infamy, forward Andray Blatche perused the cheat sheet on the day’s opponent, prepared for him by the coaching staff. “Damn,” Blatche mused, “Kevin Love shoots 42 percent from three-point range?”
That’s right: An hour before tipoff, a professional player in his seventh season was just discovering the talents of the man he would be guarding.
This was two days after Blatche’s teammate, JaVale McGee, took a moment following Friday’s loss to the Knicks to remind his Twitter followers, “Make sure y’all go vote for Allstar!”
Sunday afternoon’s game was at home in Verizon Center against Minnesota, a relatively inexperienced team like Washington. The Wizards lost by 21.
During the game, rookie Jan Vesely, whom the Wizards selected out of the Czech Republic with the sixth overall pick in this past June’s draft, had two free throws after being fouled. Standing 15 feet from the basket, he sent his first shot 14 feet. That’s right: He missed the rim, and the backboard.
Less than three weeks into a lockout-abbreviated 66-game season, the Wizards are setting all kinds of firsts.
For example, Blatche became the first player in league history to complain about his role in the offense on the very first night of a season, saying he wanted the ball closer to the rim, that he was tired of being a perimeter player at 6 feet 11. (Never mind that he has spent much of his playing time since launching a plethora of long-distance jump shots.)
Also, no team in NBA annals had ever held a players-only meeting a mere six games into a season. Usually, it takes at least 25 games to reach the kind of futility that demands a closed-door session.
Some of the Wizards’ problems are obvious: Second-year point guard John Wall, the team’s main reason for hope, is off to a brutal start; Blatche, McGee and other key players rarely make good decisions in the fourth quarter; and the team’s overall talent pool is very shallow.