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Washington Wizards' Andray Blatche just doesn't get it

By Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 25, 2010; D02

Blog excerpt from washingtonpost.com/wilbon

We now know Andray Blatche is a liability. It doesn't matter that he can get you 30 points, 12 rebounds and a half-dozen assists in a game and at times look like the next Kevin Garnett. It doesn't matter that he's 6 feet 11 and only 23 years old. Just two weeks after putting together a string of impressive games for the Wizards, Blatche has revealed himself to be a team killer.

He's exactly what a rebuilding franchise doesn't need, which is to say a knucklehead who thinks putting up big but meaningless numbers for a bad team makes him Wilt Chamberlain. What it should make Blatche is trade bait.

Of course Coach Flip Saunders was right to bench Blatche on Tuesday night after he refused to go back into the game. And the Wizards should have suspended Blatche without pay for at least a couple of games; the last thing a team with a double-digit losing streak needs is an egomaniacal insubordinate. It would be a shame if GM Ernie Grunfeld lets Blatche slide the way he let Gilbert Arenas slide when Eddie Jordan tried to get tough with Agent Zero.

That's what appears to be happening, since Blatche was in the starting lineup Wednesday night when the Wizards played the Pacers in Indianapolis. If you're not going to suspend a player for this, then what? There's no playoff spot on the line, no race for a higher seed. At the very least, while the Wizards stink they ought to establish a baseline of discipline. That's up to the GM and coach.

Blatche, very simply, is clueless. Not only does he not think he was insubordinate, he seems to actually believe his coach is at fault. Blatche said during one radio interview that last night's incident was 25 percent his fault, then said in another interview, "To me, I think this will all go away if I receive an apology."

He has become Exhibit A as to why you can't draft a player out of high school, unless you think he's the greatest player you've ever seen, which LeBron James was but Blatche and Kwame Brown decidedly were not.

I used to think Wizards players exaggerated when they said Blatche was the laziest player they'd ever seen, one of the most uncoachable as well. I once wrote that the only way Blatche would find the weight room is if it was located in the (night) club, and one Wizards player said I should have amended that to "the VIP in the club . . . otherwise, he'd never get there."

Blatche knows all this. He knows his own peers and league observers think he puts forth no effort; it's why he changed his jersey number to 7. It was supposed to symbolize his new dedication to the game "seven days a week." And to be fair, there were signs Blatche was finally doing what he should, like working out and studying videotapes.

But here we are, back to the same old same old. Blatche can't get along with his coach. Blatche wants to do it his way. Blatche has no idea about accepting responsibility or being accountable.

It's one thing to be as bad as the Wizards are. But it's a far worse indictment to be selfish, lazy and insubordinate. If Blatche is the best player the Washington Wizards have, they're in far more trouble than they appear.

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