By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Washington Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan won a championship ring as a reserve guard with the 1981-82 Los Angeles Lakers. His coach was Pat Riley.
Last night, before the Wizards completed a season sweep of Riley's Miami Heat, Riley praised his former player for the way he's kept the Wizards in playoff contention despite a rash of injuries.
The Wizards' three all-stars, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas have played nine games together this season.
"Eddie's done a great job obviously, I think, and he should be a [coach of the year] candidate along with [New Orleans Coach] Byron Scott and a lot of these coaches that have kept their teams abreast," Riley said. "Eddie's done a great job defensively. If you take a look at their numbers without Gilbert, they went to a more methodical approach even though they still run. They're not the kind of running team they were prior to Gilbert's injury. It's a game that's more suited to Jamison and Butler. And I think the one thing they've improved the most is defensively, they really clamp down on people. Big front line, the real deal when it comes to rebounding, second-chance points and stuff like that."
Before Jordan, the last Washington coach to guide the team to four straight playoff appearances was Dick Motta (1976-77 to 1979-80). Riley also believes that the Wizards can still pose a threat in the playoffs.
"They're getting hurt right now at the worst possible time," Riley said. "But I think they have enough to get into the playoffs and be formidable."
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