Taking an irreverent look at the Wizards-Cavaliers playoff series
Certain pundits have focused on the mundanity of this series: the fallen stars, the lack of national interest, the multiple trips to Cleveland. Let us rather focus on that which is special and unique. For example, has any playoff series in NBA history featured a stretch like the one early in the second quarter of Game 1: a Lithuanian Wizard (Darius Songaila) guarding a Crazy-Haired Cavalier (Anderson Varejao), while a Lithuanian Cavalier (Zydrunas Ilgauskus) guarded a Crazy-Haired Wizard (Etan Thomas)?
Astute observers attempted to break down those matchups, both before and after Game 1. Concerning the hair, there were Thomas partisans in the Wizards' locker room, including backup guard Donell Taylor.
"Varejao, his hair goes everywhere, it's kind of fluffy," Taylor said. "Etan, his hair is tied, it's kind of stationary. Etan's hair fits him. Varejao's don't." And there were Varejao partisans in the Cavaliers' locker room, including backup guard Damon Jones.
"Anderson, it just looks better," Jones said, although he wasn't particularly amused by the line of inquiry. "That wasn't a serious question," he said. "It's playoff time."
In any case, it was left to Cavaliers forward Donyell Marshall to brush aside the partisanship in favor of a softer treatment.
"You know, it's different styles," he explained. "Andy's got the wild look, and obviously Etan has the reggae look. They're both done nicely. Etan's is actually a little harder, because you've got to really take care of [dreadlocks] to look nice. You know, not everybody takes enough care of their dreads to look nice. It's just two different styles."
Concerning the Baltic duo, Songaila admitted they had engaged in some native-tongue trash-talking -- does anyone know how to say "Punks jump up to get beat down" in Lithuanian? -- but he refused to share any secrets.
"I'm not going to tell you," Songaila said. "That's just between me and him."
Regardless, when final Game 1 tallies were tallied, the results were fairly decisive. When both Lithuanians were on the court, the Cavaliers had a 29-17 advantage. When both well-coiffed big men were on the court, the Cavaliers had an 18-12 advantage.
It goes without saying that the Wizards' scouts will be up late figuring out a way to neutralize those deficits. Some friendly advice? Talk to Arvydas Macijauskas, a Lithuanian basketball star who has been featured in advertising campaigns for Garnier Fructis shampoo.
Atmosphere Suits Hall
Wizards rookie Mike Hall, on his first playoff game, during which he was dressed in street clothes: "I came out and they did the lineups with the fire and the flames and people waving towels. I was talking to Caron [Butler], I was like, 'Man I want to play right now. You can put me in in my suit, I'll dunk on anybody on the court.' "
Check out this strange-but-true fact: Cavaliers guard Eric Snow's wife is named DeShawn, almost certainly making this the first playoff series in league history in which one guard was named DeShawn and another guard was married to DeShawn.
"For real?" DeShawn Stevenson said when I told him the news. "Dang. I ain't no girl, though. There's more DeShawn guys than girls."
"So you're trying to say DeShawn's got a girl's name?" Antawn Jamison said.
To the contrary, I insisted; I merely thought it was interesting. "It's an interesting story for you, yeah," Jamison agreed.
And if you're still on the fence about the series, consider this: Eric and DeShawn Snow's second child? Yes, that's right, his name is Darius. Eric Snow's mother's name? Suzie, naturally. At press time, it was still unclear whether either of Snow's grandfathers were named Abe.