Well, Washington Wizards fans will actually have someone to boo and heckle at other than their own team tonight. Andray Blatche returns to Washington for the first time since being amnestied by the club this summer. After some work with John Lucas down in Houston, Blatche was finally picked up by the Brooklyn Nets as a reclamation project.
Blatche always had the talent. 6’11 guys with the skill set of a guard are hard to find. His problem normally came from decision making off the court. Whether it was soliciting prostitutes or fighting a teammate at a nightclub, Blatche stayed in the papers for the wrong reasons. His on the court contributions left a lot to be desired as well. He failed to stay or get in shape, disappeared during games, and even refused to go back in during one game. Blatche was an enigma in Washington. After giving him an extension, they finally cut ties with him and rid themselves of the perceived headache for good.
The Wizards may have got it wrong. No one can excuse the boneheaded mistakes Blatche made off the court or even excuse the lack of conditioning on the court but young players need guidance. Even on veteran laden squads with Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, and Gilbert Arenas there was a lack of maturity in the locker room. When the Wizards decided to rebuild around Blatche, JaVale McGee, and Nick Young the maturity level in the locker room went from a five out of 10 to a one instantly. Asking a player who wasn’t mentally ready, to lead, proved to be a combustible situation that backfired.
Being cut essentially might have saved Blatche’s career. He found a home in Brooklyn as their 6th man where he is surrounded by veterans and a coaching staff and organization that won’t accept the excuses that the Wizards put up with for years. Being surrounded by mature veterans may have been all Blatche needed in the first place.
Tonight Blatche returns to the place he called home for the first seven years of his career. Don’t be surprised to see Blatche play well tonight, showing Wizard fans some of the skill that had them so frustrated with him over the years. Don’t be surprised if Wizard fans shower Blatche with boos, he won’t. This time it won’t sting or hurt because he is suiting up for the other team.