HANGTIME SOUTHWEST – Andray Blatche can be a baaaaaad man. By both interpretations of the vernacular.
His talent (if not always his effort) is undeniably positive, a big man with a handle so supple he makes guys half his size envious. And, man, does he have moves. Like Sunday night when he sized up Sixers center Spencer Hawes a step inside the arc and with one dribble to the right put Hawes on his heels, veered into the paint, launched himself to the rim while levitating the basketball on the upturned fingertips of his right hand only to flip his wrist at the last moment and throw it down.
His behavior, however, is equally as undeniably negative. Confounding, maddening, a chain of self-inflicted screw-ups, senseless altercations, childish decision-making and outright selfishness.
Google “Andray Blatche” and “trouble.” Before you can finish typing “trouble,” “trouble again” pops up.
There are hard-headed players who enter the league too young, too ill-equipped to handle the sudden wealth and freewheeling lifestyle, or are simply too stubborn, and never materialize. Phoenix’s Michael Beasley is well down that road and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins may be, too.
For some, the light bulb eventually comes on. For others, it never does. Blatche, in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets, is standing at that career crossroads. And why not hope for a so-far feel-good story to continue that way on Christmas, when Blatche, granted new life in the league, and his recently wobbly Nets play host to the Boston Celtics (Noon ET, ESPN)?
“I’m wiser, definitely wiser,” Blatche said last week during a telephone interview. “Just more open-minded today. Back then I didn’t have my priorities straight.”
Blatche is averaging 11.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 49.8 percent shooting in 21.0 minutes as a valued reserve. His per-36 numbers have soared to career-best levels of 19.8 points and 10.3 rebounds.
But, there’s also been signs that Blatche still doesn’t get it. After the Nets’ home opener, Blatche ran out of gas and thought it’d be a good idea to share his misadventure via Twitter. While an empty tank is no a crime, it’s not exactly a sign of staying on top of things. Putting it on Twitter didn’t do much to enhance his reputation.
A few weeks later, as his old Washington Wizards were in midst of a long losing streak to start the season, Blatche ribbed the club that drafted him and signed him to an extension in interviews and on Twitter. He said the Wizards, who drafted him in the second round and signed him to an extension despite numerous red flags, didn’t support him and “they tried to end me.”
So the ending to this story, happy or sad, is far from told.
“It was a reality check,” Blatche said. “I almost lost something that I love doing, so you can say it was a wake-up call.”
Blatche isn’t talking about the Wizards surrendering by using the amnesty clause to rid themselves of Blatche, even with all that talent to still to be mined and with $23 million over three seasons still to be paid.
“There was no doubt in my mind that [being amnestied] was going to happen,” Blatche said. “So it was more of just getting myself ready for the next stage of whatever was going to happen.”
Only nothing happened. Blatche’s phone didn’t ring. July, August, nothing.
“Oh yeah,” Blatche said. “During the summer, I didn’t get no phone calls.” (more…)