The Washington Post

Andray Blatche: The reason the Wizards will be 50 percent better

Washington Wizards power forward Andray Blatche (7) laughs as he leads the agility drills on the first night of camp Dec. 9. (Jonathan Newton/WASHINGTON POST)

Thank God the NBA lockout has ended. What would we have done without Andray Blatche for an entire season?

The Washington Redskins provide us with controversy, despair, suspensions, speculation, elation (in small doses) and many different ways to miss field goals — but not a whole lot of laughs. Not that it’s easy to laugh during a 4-9 season, and you don’t want a locker room full of Chris Rocks, but one would be nice.

The Washington Wizards, on the other hand, have Blatche, who is finally approaching his on-court potential. Off the court? Three words: Lap Dance Tuesdays.

So it was no wonder, then, that despite the fact that Blatche has been a professional basketball player for six seasons — six seasonsFlip Saunders gave the 25-year-old a book on leadership to read during the offseason.

Blatche had half a year to read “17 Essential Qualities Of A Team Player: Becoming The Kind Of Person Every Team Wants” — and he read half the book. So he should have picked up 81 / 2 essential qualities in time for the 2011-12 season.

(He also read “A Tale of A City,” “One and a Half Musketeers” and “Catch-11.”)

Seriously, I can’t blame Blatche for not finishing a book about leadership; I probably wouldn’t have gotten through the first chapter. He felt he got the message halfway through, and perhaps he did.

Saunders seemed half-heartedly happy with Blatche’s half-complete assignment, saying, “It’s not a matter of what you read; it’s what you come out of it with. He has matured some.”

He has matured some? Some? Stop, you’re making him blush.

Well, it hardly matters. The Wizards have brought in Roger Mason Jr., who might as well be listed in the program as “veteran leader brought in because Andray Blatche may never get there.”

And so what? Not every player on the roster needs to be a leader. John Wall showed more leadership while still in his teens than Blatche has ever shown, and possibly ever will show. For instance, here is Blatche’s analysis of what’s gone wrong with the Wizards in the past: “We just had a goofy team. Everybody know that. We just had like a lot of goofballs around. I just knew it was time for a change of something.”

Yes, the Wizards have had their share of goofballs. Some might say they have a few left. Let’s hope so. There is nothing wrong with goofballs who can play. Blatche led the team with 8.2 rebounds a game last year and was second with 16.8 points a game. He admits, however, that he didn’t give his all on “defense and effort.” Ah, well, that’s only half the game. Blatche is really into doing things by halves.

“I took in some of the stuff from the book, and I’m just trying to do my part,” he said. “If guys see me doing my part, then guys will do their part.”

Say, isn’t that a fairly succinct definition of leadership? Maybe he read the right half of the book after all.

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