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The Washington Wizards

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Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 27, 2006; 3:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Ivan Carter was online Thursday, April 27, at 3 p.m. ET to field your questions and comments about the Washington Wizards and the playoffs.

From The Post:

Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.

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Washington, D.C.: What do you think the fun level is like on the Wizards compared to other NBA teams? It seems like a young squad that enjoys playing together, and they don't have a crusty veteran for good or ill. Arenas and Butler seem to have a smile on their faces most of the time (except when the calls aren't going their way). I imagine success also helps. What do you think, and will it help to attract players in free agency?

Ivan Carter: It's funny that you bring that up because one of the cool things about this team is that it's filled with some real characters. When we're on the road and other writers come into the lockeroom before the game, they are always asking myself and John Mitchell from the Wash Times: "Are these guys always like this?" It's a pretty loose group with guys who don't take themselves too seriously. One thing: when you walk in that locker room expect to be messed with. Jared Jeffries, he of the pink socks, is the resident fashion critic.

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Ivan Carter: Happy to be back in the district for Games 3 and 4 after spending some days in C-town where everybody is a Witness. Let's get to it.

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Chevy Chase, Md.: Hey Ivan - thanks for the stories and chats -- you really are on top of things. Any hope that Etan Thomas will get some meaningful minutes vs. the Cavs? Seems like we could use him to knock LeBron a bit, right?

Ivan Carter: Talked to Eddie about this today and it's hard to establish what Etan's role will be. He played a little in Game 1 and actually put some wood on LeBron once but then Eddie make a point of going with Ruffin more in Game 2. One factor is Brendan's excellent defense against Ilgauskas. For whatever reason, he really throws Z off his game. Sitting close to the court, I can read the looks on Z's face and he just doesn't look comfortable with Brendan on him. Brendan's length sort of allows him to match Ilgauskas and take away his pet jump hook. As long as Brendan stays out of foul trouble, Eddie's going to give him huge minutes in this series. Etan will be needed somewhere along the line though.

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Haywood: Hey Ivan,

How does this guy play 29 minutes in Game 2 and ONLY get one rebound? That means he got one more rebound than the guy sitting in the upper deck eating a hot dog.....

Thanks.

Ivan Carter: I watched the tape from Game 2. One issue, and it's a good thing, is that Brendan is making a concerted effort to find Ilgaukas and put a body on him whenever a shot goes up because Ilgauskas gets at least three or four buckets a game on tip-ins. This takes Brendan away from the hoop and clears the way for Jamison, Jeffries and others to snatch the board. I've been a Brendan critic all season but he played hard in both games and he's taking Ilgauskas out of this series. But yes, you'd still like to see your 7-footer get more than one board.

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Alexandria, Va.: Jeffries, not Haywood, was the one who rattled James. The charges taken by Jeffries got James upset and took away one of his important weapons--the power move to the basket.

Ivan Carter: Especially when LeBron has to go left. When he goes that way, he dips his shoulder and tries to shove his way by the defender. Jeffries threw him off by sliding over and taking the charge. After that, LeBron looked unsure of himself and settled for long jumpers. However, there was no question that something in that building changed when Brendan put a hit on James. You could almost feel it and a lot of that energy came from the Wizards bench. When Brendan came out, he had every player and assistant coach giving him love. Even Eddie. I thought Harvey Grant, who has been begging Brendan and Etan to put a body on driving guards all season, was going to kiss Brendan right there in the middle of the arena. They fed off that. Of course, it helped that Caron started drilling jumpers to get that 18-0 run going.

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Washington, D.C.: Well then, how about an anecdote or two from the locker room? Sounds like there's some comedy gold in there...

Ivan Carter: Before the last game at Philly, Gilbert had the ballboys betting whether he'd lay a flying drop kick on Awvee Storey. So a little while passes and Awvee's sitting there doing an interview with a guy from Philly when I notice Gilbert with his head poking around the corner of the trainer's room, watching Awvee. He had this goofy grin on his face and then he sprung out and got Awvee right in the chest. One of the ball boys paid up.

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Reston, Va.: How about the non charge call late in the Laker - Sun game last night?

Ivan Carter: That was a dunk though. I mean, you can't call a charge on a guy who throws down a dunk like that, can you? Wow that was nice.

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Easy Question: If we beat the Cavs does that mean letting go of Larry Hughes was good for the team? Because honestly I like Caron Butler's style of play a lot more than Larry's.

Ivan Carter: Right now, I'd take Caron Butler. Larry's been hurt every season and he's pulling down $15 million more than Caron so that really wraps it up for me.

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Washington, D.C.: Would it be safe to say that labeling the Wizards as the Clippers of the East would not be an extreme insult to the Clippers? Man, those Clippers are good, and I attribute their success to their point guard, Sam Cassell, a local product who is the gel that holds that team together with his passing, setups, and clutch shooting. He's exactly what the Wizards need but don't have.

Ivan Carter: I call Sam Cassell "The Professional Point Guard" Dude can play. Remember, it was the addition of Cassell and Sprewell that finally got Kevin Garnett out of his first round hell and into the Western Conference finals two years ago. If Cassell doesn't go down with a back injury in Game 2 against the Lakers, the Wolves win that series and play Detroit in the Finals. Remember, Cassell was out and Troy Hudson was out so Minnesota was starting Derrick Martin for three games. Not good. I think they would have had a really good chance of beating the Pistons and how would Cassell's legacy be different right now? He'd have three rings with two different teams in two different eras (Pre-lockout and post-lockout) The Clippers won't go out of these playoffs silently.

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RE: Larry Hughes: He seems like a completely different player than last year. Injuries or no injuries, he should be having more of an impact for the $$ he's getting, correct?

Ivan Carter: That broken finger really set him back. I saw it up close before Game 1 and it still looks gruesome, even after surgery. That why he has no confidence on his outside shot. Those jumpers aren't even close to going in. He's not the same player, no question.

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20165: Great work this season, Ivan. I noticed on the local broadcast that it appeared coach Jordan was talking to you during a timeout in eihther the 2nd or 3rd quarter. Was this the case, and if so what did he say to you?

Ivan Carter: I can't really remember what Eddie said the other day but he'll do that every now and then. One time, after I wrote a story about Antawn's three-point accuracy, Eddie watched Antawn miss a three in transition. He turned to me and said: "See, you're encouraging him." Another time he asked if I was even watching the game because I was writing on a deadline. Stuff like that. One thing I respect about Eddie is, he doesn't carry himself with arrogance. He's pretty down to earth.

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Sterling, Va.: A bunch of us noticed how at the end of Game2 Caron seemingly mocked LeBron's chalk-to-the-hands ritual, which if true is AWESOME. Did you see this?

Ivan Carter: I did and yes, that was funny. Caron is not afraid to stir it up a little bit. I don't think he's feeling all of that King James hype coming out of Cleveland. Trust me, it was a little over the top. However, that huge mural of James outside the arena is pretty cool. I was walking back to my hotel really late one night after, uh, dinner when I turned a corner and that thing was just glowing over the city. Pretty cool.

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Herndon, Va.: Shouldn't the NBA adopt an "Offensive MVP" in addition to the straight up MVP? Nash is a great, great PG, but he couldn't guard the kid that Arenas will give his jersey to after tomorrow's game. It's kind of a sham. Kobe should have been MVP.

Ivan Carter: I think the NBA MVP award is the most overhyped, truly meaningless thing in sports, right after the sideline interview in pro football. "Uh Coach, what's the goal for the second half?" Coach: "We have to score more points and play better defense." "Thanks coach."

I'm not big on individual awards in what is the quintessential team sport. To me, basketball can't be boiled down to individuality. Why do you think the Pistons and Spurs keep dominating the league? That said, I would give it to Nash. He makes everyone on his team better and when it comes to that award I ask myself one question: "Who would I want to play with?" It's Nash, no doubt.

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Bench Depth: Not having Jarvis (2nd year straight hurt down the stretch) and not having Juan Dixon coming off the bench for 2005 has clearly hurt this team.

Where do you think we need improvement from the perspective of the bench?

Ivan Carter: For this series and a possible second round series, the Wizards are in a tough spot. Jarvis says he'll be back to full strength late this summer and he plans on being ready for camp. After that, it's all about how quickly Andray Blatche comes along. Can he contribute 15-20 minutes a game next season? That's a huge factor in Ernie's decision making this offseason. I do see them keeping Jared as long as some team doesn't offer ridiculous money at him.

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Anonymous: I've heard that Sam plays Baltimore Style street ball. Is that true, and exactly what are the distinctive Baltimore moves?

(any inspired by the Pearl?)

Ivan Carter: From what I've experienced both in DC and B-more, cats around these parts love to dribble the pebbles out of the ball while four teammates stand around watching. It's like a fetish or something. Yo homeboy, pass the ball and cut, I'll give it back to you. I promise.

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Fairfax, Va.: Any word from the organization about uniform changes?? i would suggest a conversation with whoever designed those new cavs jerseys...those are pretty sweet..

Ivan Carter: I'll keep running these posts from you guys begging for new uniforms until the powers-that-be do something about it. I haven't heard about any changes but I agree with you. Does anyone like these uniforms enough to get upset over a change?

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McLean, Va.: Hey Ivan,

I noticed LeBron walking around the court making faces and posturing throughout the game after fouls that were called and especially after no-calls. Its like he feels disrespected . Seems to me he has bought into the "King James" hype a little to much. I mean, come on. clapping the powder before the game? staring into the camera's after made baskets? I noticed him having to sprint down the court a couple of times because the 'zards got the ball up quickly and he was making faces to the camera.

I know the wizards players were aware of it because you could see them making fun of it after the game (hysterical by the way).

What's with the theatrics?

Ivan Carter: I like LeBron. I like that he passes the ball to an open teammate when he could be as selfish as he wants. I like how he's handled the hype and attention that has been thrown his way since he was a kid. I like that when I asked him a question in one of those uncomfortable media scrums the other day, he looked me dead in the eye and answered the question. That was telling. The on-court extras don't really bother me. I think he's good for the game. He is, afterall, 21. When I was that age, I was ditching classes, lying to every girl I met and sneaking 12-packs of Budweiser into the dorms at St. Olaf College.

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AE (Uni-town): On the topic of Uni's. The following changes need to be made.

#1. Put Washington on the front instead of "Wizards

#2. Burgundy and Gold, baby!

#3. When does Arenas' shoe come out?

Ivan Carter: More on the unis. Gibert is supposed to have a shoe out for the Olympics. You may not have noticed but he wore them for Game 1 before switching back to the classic, old-school, low tops at halftime. They were pretty cool. Grey and Blue three-quarter cuts with a stripes serving as some sort of strap over the middle of the shoe.

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Denver, Colo.: Do any of the players talk about Kwame Brown's improvement? As a long suffering Bullets fan, I knew he would eventually get better, but it still stings. Hopefully it will never be as bad as watching the Pistons win a championship with Rip and the Wallace's, but Kwame winning a championship in L.A. would be a tough pill to swallow.

Ivan Carter: I haven't heard the fellas talk about at all. I don't get that sense that guys dislike Kwame but they all seemed to agree that a change of city was good for him. Considering that the Wizards got Caron in the deal, it worked out pretty well for both sides. It was kind of funny hearing Doug Collins calling that Lakers game last night though.

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La Jolla, Calif.: Ivan, Is Lebron ready for primetime? Apart for being a part of the floundering US olympic squad, this cat hasn't played in a meaningful game beyond high school.

Ivan Carter: Well, he did post a triple-double in his first playoff game. I mean, that's pretty good isn't it?

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Chinatown: No, the uniforms stink. Should adopt the throwback style. And while they're at it, change the name back to the Bullets!

Ivan Carter: More on the uniforms. Let 'em know! Start a movement! Protest in the streets!

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Anonymous: Right on with the anti-MVP approach. Team basketball is the most elusive and most entertaining aspect of the game. The MVP should be switched to the team with the least selfish play getting an award, regardless of their winning record. Individual awards should be left to the scoring title, etc.

Ivan Carter: My thoughts exactly.

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Ashburn, Va.: The officiating in game1 was fine. In game2 it was -save for the two charges on James- abyssmal. They let LeBron get a do-over inbounding the ball after a Wiz bucket for pete's sake! Please tell me that neither Joey Crawford or Dick Bevetta are officiating tomorrow.

Ivan Carter: I think the refs were solid in both games. They kept control of tempers on both sides, they called the games consistently and they didn't freak out when some hard fouls were given (Haywood on LeBron and Wild Thing on Arenas). I particularly respected that they had the guts to call charging when James bulled into Jeffries those two times. I've seen refs in that situation make the wrong call when a star is involved.

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20170: Since your finger is much closer to the pulse of this series than those of us watching from our la-z-boys, how do you think Bron Bron will respond in game3? I hope he gets pummelled again.

Ivan Carter: To me, the bigger question is: how will his teammates respond? Ilgauskas has been a non-factor, Larry Hughes can't knock down an open jumper and the Cavs bench gave them nothing in Game 2. Were it not for Drew Gooden, the Wizards would have won that game by 15 points.

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Burke, Va.: Why can't the NBA play its playoff games on an alternate night format like hockey? These early-round playoff series take forever. Hockey starts its postseason the same time as the NBA and is done over a week earlier!

Ivan Carter: Why stop there? The NBA should have designated goons, bench-clearing brawls and shootouts to decide overtime games. Stick the other team's center under the basket and then pick one guy to dribble up the court and try to dunk on him. Wouldn't that be exciting?

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Logan Circle, Washington, D.C.: Do the Wizards have a first round pick and do you know what pick they have or has it not been decided yet with the playoffs? Any ideas what Ernie might be thinking with that pick? What need do you think they should address?

Ivan Carter: They'll have a first round pick and the spot will be determined by where they finish. They'll be in the bottom of the first round so I assume we're talking about "best player available" in this one.

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Anonymous: Should Spike Lee be admitted to the Indiana Pacer Hall of Fame?

Ivan Carter: No. But he should on hand heckling when Reggie Miller goes into the Hall of Fame.

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Arlington, Va.: So what exactly did EJ say to you after that timeout he called when Antonio Daniels blew the defensive assignment? Or do we need to be on HBO to reveal that?

Ivan Carter: It was something like "And you thought I was a player's coach"

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Arlington, Va.: What's the deal for playoff tickets? I heard tomorrow night's game is NOT sold out. Also when will Game 6 tickets go on sale?

Ivan Carter: Last I heard, tickets were available for games 3 and 4. Go to the team website, www.washingtonwizards.com or call ticketmaster.

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San Diego, Calif.: Ivan,

If Kobe was more popular w/the media and didn't have the off-court baggage, would he have gotten the MVP nod this year over Nash?

Also, will LB and or Isaiah both be back w/the sorry Knicks next year?

Ivan Carter: Kobe is pretty popular with the media, particularly the beat writers who cover the league on a daily basis. From my experiences, he's a decent guy to deal with. Nash won because a lot of people appreciate what that team did without Amare Stoudemire. I would guess that either Larry or Zeke has to go. That team is a mess.

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Ivan Carter: I have to go write some stuff for Friday's paper. Keep reading and enjoy Game's 3 and 4. We'll have some good stuff to chat about next week.

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