Ailing Wizards Don't Expect Sympathy, but They Deserve Some
Washington Wizards captain Antawn Jamison, out of action with a right knee contusion suffered in the first quarter of the team's first preseason game Tuesday night in Dallas, said it best last night: "No one is going to feel sorry for us."
What a shame, too, because if any NBA team deserved some sympathy, it would be the Wizards, who last season endured eight players missing a combined 225 games and will begin 2008-09 with Jamison, Gilbert Arenas (knee) and Brendan Haywood (wrist) sidelined.
At least Jamison was optimistic about a quick recovery in a group interview Friday night before the Wizards hosted Detroit at Verizon Center as they prepared to leave yesterday for a weeklong trip to Europe. There will be games Tuesday (Berlin) and Friday (Barcelona), sandwiched around basketball clinics and sightseeing and, hopefully, no visit to a medical clinic.
"I'll be ready to start the regular season" Oct. 29, promised Jamison, even suggesting he could play in one of the team's games next week. "We have to be patient; but we've been in this situation before."
His coach, Eddie Jordan, knows too well the team's script and continues to put a positive spin on what has become a familar story. "How can we absorb this?" asked Jordan, answering his own question. "We've been through this before, so you look to which players will step up. But our young guys have developed; we're young, deep and flexible."
Jordan was referring to JaVale McGee, Dominic McGuire, Andray Blatche, Oleksiy Pecherov, Darius Songaila, Nick Young and Dee Brown, also noting the return of veteran Etan Thomas after missing last season after heart surgery strengthens the center spot.
"You take it all as it comes," said Caron Butler, one veteran still standing.
Another veteran, owner Abe Pollin, was in the house Friday night to wish his players bon voyage and reminisce about the team's last overseas journey and how he could not persuade Elvin Hayes to get off the bus in China to see the Great Wall. "Elvin told me 'Abe, I've seen a lot of walls and don't need to see another.' "
On Any Given Sunday
In the 17 years since the Redskins won their last Super Bowl -- a season (1991) in which they went 17-2 and dominated the NFL -- rarely have they been 13 1/2 -point favorites in a game.
But that's the scenario today when the scalding-hot Redskins host the St. Louis Rams (0-4) at FedEx Field in a contest the late Coach George Allen would have called "the game of our lives." Joe Gibbs would have castigated the Las Vegas oddsmakers for denigrating the onetime "Greatest Show on Turf."
But Jim (Coach of the Year, five games worth) Zorn can open the history books and show his guys that danger lurks on such slippery fields.
Has it been 17 years since a Dallas Cowboy team, with a 6-5 record, came into RFK Stadium and handed the 11-0 Redskins their first loss, 24-21, in a game retired quarterback Mark Rypien remembers?