The Washington Wizards are supposed to be on the path back towards respectability after the terrible events of the last few seasons. Gilbert Arenas(notes) is now in Orlando, John Wall(notes) is having an excellent rookie season and looking like a future star, and the team seems to have a general plan for moving forward. It will be a long road, but they can see the way back now.
There is at least one boulder in their way, though: Andray Blatche(notes), a man-child forward capable of alternating terrific performances with embarrassing mental lapses. Earlier Tuesday, Blatche did something that stands firmly in the latter category.
After Monday night's loss to the Knicks, Wizards head coach Flip Saunders called Blatche's performance "terrible." I suppose Andray didn't take too kindly to those words, because he responded by calling in to a radio station 106.7 The Fan and sticking up for himself. Some details from Bullets Forever:
He's upset that so many Wizards fans have turned on him. "If you're a Wizards fan, that means you cheer for everybody. That doesn't mean you'll come to a game and you shout 'Trade him!' If you're part of a Wizards organization fan group, that means you cheer for the team." [...]
He said too many players try to do it themselves rather than trusting anyone, but nobody seems to say anything when that happens because they're too friendly with each other and worried about "hurting feelings."
Blatche also noted that he's playing through pain and that fans should cut him some slack. If you want to listen to the full audio, go here and maybe consider using your time more wisely.
I have a certain amount of sympathy in this situation for Blatche -- his relationship with Saunders has been strained for a while now, and it doesn't help when the coach piles on by being overtly critical in public. That's a sign of fault communication at the very least and likely a much more dysfunctional player-coach relationship. If these discussions aren't happening behind closed doors, then things must be quite wrong.
But calling in to a radio show to discuss your anger is the wrong course of action. Blatche will only seem like a bratty child who can't handle criticism to the majority of the public, and it's hard to argue that point when he acts like this. If the relationship with Saunders is truly beyond repair, then he'd be better off putting his head down, playing as best he can, and waiting for a trade or for Saunders to get fired, one of which seems likely to happen within the next year.
Right now, Blatche is acting in ways that will cast him as the bad guy. That take is partly true, but it's probably not the full story. If he thinks he's being treated unfairly, better to stay quiet and let the truth come out over time.
- Flip Saunders