#Pray4Nene

Standard

Pray4Nene

By William Beal

Right off the bat, allow me to apologize, because I feel personally responsible for the latest spat of plantar fasciitis to afflict poor Nene.  The last time you heard from me, I pondered that DeJuan Blair may be kept on the roster simply for if/when Nene got hurt.  Why I thought I could tempt the injury gods in such a way is beyond me, and I’ll be kicking myself until his return.

The Brazilian big man has missed five straight games since aggravating the reoccurring right foot injury in the game against the Bucks on November 22.

The Wizards looked to be heading down the typical road of Nene-less basketball, dropping the first two games he missed, but have since gone on to win three straight.

In 11 games this year, Nene has only averaged 10.6 points and 4.7 rebounds, but his meaningfulness as a veteran leader, skills as a passer, and elite boxing-out talents are missed greatly.

So how have the Wiz managed to stay afloat in Nene’s absence?  Well, much to my chagrin, not because of DeJuan Blair, who has only seen garbage time minutes in two games since the injury.

Kris Humphries has slid into the starting role with Drew Gooden now the backup.  Humphries has continued to display his midrange skill, also grabbing a whopping 20 rebounds against the Lakers.

Randy Wittman has also gotten a little creative, experimenting with a lineup that has Rasual Butler as a stretch-4 in limited minutes.

So for now, trudge on through the times without our spiritual leader, Brazilian Confucius, Wizards fans.  And most importantly, don’t forget to #Pray4Nene.

Where is DeJuan Blair?

Standard

dBlairWiz

By William Beal

After acquiring DeJuan Blair in a sign-and-trade this offseason with the Dallas Mavericks, many people thought that he could be a great contribution to the Wizards front court depth.

Blair was excited about joining the team, but after after appearing in only three games so far, for a total of 11 minutes, people are wondering what is going on.

Front court depth was a problem for the Wizards last season, and they addressed it in the offseason. They resigned Kevin Seraphin and Drew Gooden, also bringing in Kris Humphries and Blair on free agent deals.

The problem for Blair is that he is at the back of this rotation, and all of the guys in front of him, including starters Nene and Marcin Gortat, are playing very well.

There has been no news of an injury for Blair, so his lack of playing time is disappointing after his nice performance against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs last season.

There have already been speculations about what the Wizards should do with Blair, but it seems likely that they will keep him, mostly as an insurance policy for Nene, who routinely misses a stretch of 20 games every season due to injury.

It is possible that Blair may just not have gelled with the team in practices yet, and that as he does, he works his way into the rotation.  It is also possible that somebody in front of him in the rotation stumbles a little bit and he works himself into the rotation that way.

One thing that is good to see is that he hasn’t publicly voiced his displeasure about his role with the team. This may bode well for his future on the team, but, for now, a proven rotation big continues to waste away on the bench.

Wizards Off to Best Start in 39 Years

Standard

Wiz2

By William Beal

The year was 1975, a little company named Microsoft had just been founded and head coach Randy Wittman was just starting his freshman year of high school .  It was also the last time the Washington Wizards (uh, Bullets) started a season 6-2.

After losing the season opener to the Heat down a few men thanks to this, the Wiz have been hot, losing only to the Raptors.

They’ve done it behind the power of John Wall, averaging 20 points, 9 assists, and 2.6 steals through the first eight games.  He also has five double-doubles already.

We’re also getting ever closer to the return of Bradley Beal.

While Garrett Temple filled in nicely in Beal’s absence, shooting 14 of 27 from three-point land in the first five games of the season, he has cooled down recently, shooting just 1 for 10 in the last three games.

The Wizards are also getting big contributions from a place they didn’t much last year; the bench.  In separate games this season, Rasual Butler, Kevin Seraphin, and Otto Porter Jr. have added 18, 13, and 21 points, respectively, off the bench to contribute to wins.

We will find out a lot about this team in the coming weeks as the face off against the powerhouse Cavaliers team twice in six days, possibly with Beal returning in the first matchup.

So take a deep breath Wizards fans, and enjoy the moment.  The season only gets more fun from here.

Wizards Season Preview

Standard

Wizzies

By William Beal

The Wizards will look to follow up their most exciting season since Gilbert Arenas was doing this to defenses throughout the league.  They enter the season with a new look; sporting their first alternate jerseys since 2006 and a new court design.  They also enter with plenty of new talent on the roster.

After the departure of Trevor Booker, the Wizards went into free agency looking to add to their backcourt depth, signing Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair. After resigning Marcin Gortat, the Wizards didn’t have enough cap space to also resign Trevor Ariza, who left to the Rockets.  The Wizards replaced him with veteran leadership in Paul Pierce, who adds some toughness to this group.

The Wizards enter the season with thoughts of winning the Southeast division for the first time in years after the departure of LeBron James from the Miami Heat.  However, three other playoff teams from last year (Bobcats, Heat, and Hawks) look to grab the title as well.

The Wizards also finally have some nationally televised games after having not a single one last year! Look forward to the national presence falling in love with John Wall and Bradley Beal, and hopefully coming up with a great nickname for the backcourt duo.  Look for a possible rivalry renewed with the Cavaliers, and possibly a new one brewing with the Bulls.

It’s gonna be an exciting season for us all Wizards fans. Ready yourself for all the ups and all of the downs. And always remember this season is gonna be just one big party. What kind of party you ask?

Wizard Party

Have media, fans, courts been hasty on Panthers’ Greg Hardy amid spate of domestic violence cases?

Standard

Greg-Hardy-carolina-panthers-467- Greg-Hardy-Court.368

By Ryan Love

Sunday rituals are a little bit different this year for Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy.

No more are the days of putting on intimidating war paint and colored contacts. No more are the days of creeping onto the field at Bank of America Stadium and putting his sack celebrations into effect. Instead, he finds himself in the discomfort of his home, cowering from the media and fans calling for his head on a platter.

Hardy was arrested in May 2014 and charged with assault on a female and communication threats. He is currently on the exempt commissioner’s list, taking a leave of absence with pay from the NFL while his legal issues become resolved. His court date is scheduled for Nov. 17.

The domestic dispute, ignited by an argument involving Hardy’s concern with his then girlfriend Nicole Holder’s previous relationship with rapper Nelly, has all of the makings of being a career-killer for Hardy. But the full story has yet to be told, and the Panthers are committed to following due process in order to make a final decision on Hardy.

The decision to put Hardy on the commissioner’s exempt list is particularly troubling for the Panthers, as they put the franchise tag on Hardy, who will be making $13.1 million over the next year, whether he plays or not. A self-described monster on the field, “The Kraken” has had 26 sacks in the past two seasons, good for fifth in the NFL over that span. He quickly emerged as one of the NFL’s top young defensive linemen, making the Pro Bowl for the first time last season.

But all of that came to a screeching halt.

It didn’t come to a halt on May 13 when he was arrested for assault on a female and communicating threats.

It didn’t come to a halt on July 15 when he was found guilty of assault on a female and communicating threats by a Mecklenberg County, N.C., judge.

It came to a halt on Sept. 8 when TMZ released a video of Ray Rice punching now-wife Janay Palmer in an elevator, knocking her out, and dragging her out of the elevator. This, followed the next day by the announcement of Adrian Peterson’s child abuse accusations, began to raise questions about the “The Kraken.”

“Why is Greg Hardy still playing?” they asked.

“What is the difference between Ray Rice and Greg Hardy?” they asked.

Did the media simply overlook the Greg Hardy case? Did he not have enough star power behind his name to make the story?

The media has only told part of the story. Whenever the term “domestic violence” is used, it is almost as if red paint is splashed over the suspect’s reputation, never to be washed away. Their reputation becomes tarnished forever.

Things looked particularly gloomy for Hardy when the media began reporting the domestic violence charge. Headlined was the account of Holder, who stated in a police report that Hardy threw her into a bathtub, pulled her by her hair, choked her with both hands around her throat and told her that he was going to kill her. She also states that he picked her up over his head and threw her into a couch laced with assault rifles before she could run away to a nearby hospital.

Lost in the media’s reports is the 9-1-1 call made by Hardy, who makes the call while Holder is still in his apartment. She can be heard screaming at him while Hardy is on the phone, stating that the woman was attacking him. He states that she is blocking the door and “will not stop coming at me.” He also states that she hit him in the face twice and he and his manager (Sammy Curtis) was simply trying to restrain the woman.

Holder admitted in court to being under the influence of alcohol and having cocaine in her system at the time of the incident. She also did not appear in court for her request for a restraining order. Her attorney, Stephen Goodwin, withdrew from the case shortly before it began due to “irreconcilable differences.”

A key witness in the case was Holder’s friend Christina Lawrence, who testified that there were only a few weapons in Hardy’s apartment; two guns against the window and a few on the bar.

Needless to say, Holder’s account of the story has its holes. While a court of law should ultimately pass judgment on whose version of the case is most credible, the least the media should do – including here in this venue – is portray all aspects of the story fully, fairly, and accurately.

So far, the media – for the most part – has dropped the ball in this regard. Due to the overwhelmingly lopsided media coverage of the charges, Hardy quickly became victim to the pitfall of public opinion. Despite already being found guilty by Judge Rebecca Thorn-Tin, North Carolina law states that Hardy has the right to appeal to a jury trial before being convicted of anything.

The NFL and Carolina Panthers acted far too soon on this issue. While public relations practices should be praised for putting the fire out before it spread, it lays the groundwork for the NFL that due process will not be followed whenever legal matters come to surface.

Hardy has never had the reputation of the NFL’s “good guy.” His weekly war paint and colored contacts make him look like a barbarian straight out of a horror movie. Fox Sports even did a feature on Hardy in December 2013, explaining his nickname of the Kraken and detailing his aggressive nature to the tune of the theme song from horror movie franchise, “Saw.”

In the feature, Hardy describes himself as a monster. He explains that you cannot separate real life from football and that it’s “a whole ‘nother swag.”

“When the Kraken comes out, whatever happens happens. You’re stuck with it,” Hardy said.

“It’s not my fault. If you’re in my way, I’m going to remove you. If you have an attitude, I’m going to kill it. I’ve been this guy my whole life and it’s finally able to come out and be its own monster.”

“It’s get killed or do the killing.”

Unfortunately for Hardy, it appears as though the media overload of domestic violence this year may have prematurely killed his NFL career.