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He Shoots, You Score

"We don't make enough time for dating," LaSooz said, explaining the Singles Nights. Of course you don't, dear. You're running a basketball team, not Plato's Retreat. (Don't look now, but LaSooz is morphing into Dr. Ruth!)

Plans call for a celebrity dating game, in which ticket-holding slobs will have a chance to win a date with a Wizards player, a Wizards dancer or a Baltimore Ravens player. (Huh? A Baltimore Ravens player? Hello? Isn't this Washington? Isn't there a football team called the Redskins in Washington? What happened? Is The Danny planning a "Blind Date" of his own, where couples talk to each other, but can't actually see each other because of the obstructed views? Not that I have anything against the Ravens, but how'd you like to be in this situation: You're the parents, and there's a knock on your door. You open it, and there's your daughter's date -- Ray Lewis! Oy!)

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I don't know if dating a Wizard makes sense. Do you really want to bring home a chronic underachiever with a terrible self-image brought on by years of losing? (Sadly, Jerry Stackhouse is gone. He'd have been the one Wizard worth dating because he'd get you that sweet eight-day deal on a weeklong summer rental.) Reportedly, the Wizards player who'll offer himself for a date is Brendan Haywood. Haywood was last seen slapping Antonio Davis in the face, then backpedaling faster than Ashlee Simpson. If Haywood could move backward like that on skates, he'd be Rod Langway. That whole fight with the Bulls was bush league, starting with Larry Hughes intentionally shoving Kirk Hinrich into Luol Deng. There's a difference between being tough and acting tough.

And there's a difference between the way Kwame Brown thinks he has been treated as compared to the way he thinks Darko Milicic has been treated -- and the reality of the way they have both been treated. The other day Kwame acknowledged he was playing the race card when he said he believed he and other black high schoolers have been slammed for not succeeding in the NBA quickly enough. "A lot of it is about money," Kwame said. "A lot of the times, writers and everybody bash the black athletes, and I laugh. I laugh all the time when you've got Darko Milicic sitting in Detroit, and I haven't heard one word about this guy. . . . This guy was the number two pick and he did not play. Nobody said nothing."

I like Kwame. I talked with him at length once (about LeBron James and their shared history), and found him smart, pleasant and engaging. But he's wrong on this one.

For one thing, Darko was clowned in the media all season -- even by his coach, Larry Brown, who said his 10-year-old son was more mature than Darko. It was a standing joke in the NBA that Detroit took Darko ahead of Carmelo Anthony. For another thing, there were far fewer expectations for Darko joining a 50-win team (with Ben Wallace and later Rasheed Wallace at the power positions) as the No. 2 overall pick than for Kwame joining a 20-win team as the No. 1 overall pick. Even so, nobody said anything bad about Kwame after his first season; they knew he was a project. If people were critical of anyone, they were critical of Michael Jordan for drafting a high schooler No. 1. But Kwame has been in the NBA for three full seasons now, and he has built a body of work that as yet hardly justifies being the No. 1 pick overall. People are still waiting on him like the Red Line train to Shady Grove.

It's been dicey drafting a 7-footer from high school. Only Kevin Garnett has produced quickly. Most guys take at least three or four seasons to develop an NBA game, and the hope here is that Kwame makes a giant leap this season. But for Kwame to imply that he's been slammed because he's young, rich and black is crapahoola. James is young, rich and black, and nobody in the universe would say he's not worth the money. Ditto for Anthony. His larger point about racism may have merit. But if Kwame Brown has gotten slammed, it's because he hasn't done much, and people have other things to do -- like go to the Giant and pick up grapefruit, asparagus and a date for Saturday night.

Again, I like Kwame. If I had the chance to sit down with him, I'd offer him this advice on how to win over the entire city:

Play better.

People like you. They have liked you since you showed up here. They just want you to play better.

Go out and get 18 and 10 every night -- not 25 one night and three the next.

Get 18 and 10 every night, and you can say whatever you want.


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