Saturday, November 13, 2004

Heels, Steelers...More Wizards

[ Who would've believed a week ago that the Wizards would be above .500 this late in the season? Well, my buddy Des is back for Week 2 ]

It's Wizards time. No more Steelers. No chance of even a North Carolina mention. Like they say at amusement parks, fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride.

We're 5 games into the season and the Wizards are 3-2. I'll take it. We've beaten the teams we should beat, lost to a team that's better than us, and stole one in Memphis. But things still aren't right. The Wizards could be better. They should be better. But will they be?

The Greg Anthony's, Tim Legler's, and 'there isn't a horse big enough for me to ride' Stephen A. Smith's of the NBA press don't even give the Wizards a look during their analysis programs. They joke about a history of losing. They joke about Michael Ruffin and Samaki Walker down low. They say that a team without an inside game can't win an NBA Championship. Meet the 2004 Detroit Pistons. If you can show me a low-post player from that team, I'll show you a bad tasting Big Mac. Mmm..special sauce.

I'm not saying the Wizards are the 2004 Pistons. For one, they can't play defense. Two, they can't play defense. And three, they make bad decisions. And the leader of the turnover brigade is Gilbert Arenas, the 22 year old, 66 million dollar savior from Golden State. Averaging six turnovers through five games? Around 3 ½ for his career? And that doesn't even tell the whole story. He does awful things that don't even show up on the stat sheet. Passing when he should shoot. Shooting when he should pass. Going for steals when staying in front of the defender is all that is needed. The bottom line: Bad decision-making.

Gilbert Arenas has the skills to be one of the best in the game. He's quick. He's a good height for a point guard. He's a great shooter. He just makes bad decisions. All the time. Especially in crunch time. And he loves giving the 'my bad signal'. You're right Gilbert, it is 'your bad'. In a league where the majority of games come down to the last six minutes, you can't have your best player constantly making bad decisions, because your best player should have the ball the majority of the time in the last six minutes. Horrible late game decision making usually leaves you at 25-57 in April and looking for time shares in the Bahamas.

Can decision making be taught? I don't belong to that school. Well, not entirely. I understand Gilbert is 22 and has plenty of time to learn. But feel for the game is inherent. It's what makes the great players great. Magic had it. Bird had it. Some would argue that Jordan learned it, but I think he always had it and just had to realize that he didn't need to score 40 points a game to win. But Gilbert doesn't have Michael's problem. It's not that he doesn't pass, it's that he doesn't know when to pass. It's not that he can't shoot. It's that he chooses the wrong time to shoot. He doesn't understand the flow of the game. He doesn't know when to carry the team on his shoulders. He doesn't when to give the hot hand on his team the ball. He doesn't know when to buckle down and play defense. He's a space cadet out there. Taking 10 shots one quarter, 0 the next. His teammates don't know what he's going to do, a fact clearly evident during Orlando's 17 point, Arenas 3 turnover run in the third quarter of Wednesday night's game. He was a disaster. Plain and simple.

Maybe I'm being hard on the guy. But for me, a man who once led his 12 and under house league rec team in turnover-to-assist ratio (and a title to boot, no less), this is unacceptable. I don't understand how somebody who has played the game for 15 years can't understand the game. And I'm not going to sit and watch him be a disaster for the last 77 games of the season. Actually, I am. But I'm going to be bitching about Arenas the entire time.