True Wizardry

Sports blotter: "Puts up a brick!" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  August 8, 2007

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Premature celebration
Question: what do you do when, after three years of almost exclusively sitting on the bench for a mediocre NBA team — and looking good only very occasionally in garbage-time, regular-season games against the likes of bad teams such as Seattle and New Orleans — your team decides to offer you, a mere 20 year old, $12.5 million over five years?

The answer is easy: you run out to Thomas Circle in Northwest DC and you proposition an undercover policewoman from the anti-prostitution squad. And not only do you do this, but you make sure to do it before you actually sign the deal, so that your GM can suddenly stop answering your agent’s calls while he decides exactly how much to knock off the offer he made you the day before.

Only in the NBA does a kid with exactly six double-digit scoring games under his belt and an outstanding arrest warrant get offered $12.5 million. But that’s what happened this past week to promising but troubled Washington Wizards forward Andray Blatche, the latest in a long line of lanky young ballers to carry the mantle of the “next KG.” A 6-11 string-bean with a silky J and no D whatsoever, Blatche averaged 3.7 points per game this past year — less than two baskets a game.

Blatche’s career has been marked by a couple of ugly incidents: he was shot in an apparent carjacking prior to his rookie season, and he was also arrested for driving without a license in October 2006. Blatche could get 90 days in jail and a $500 fine — maybe Wiz GM Ernie Grunfeld will take that out of his deal — and, as punishment, he may also have to go through a one-day “John course,” basically a sensitivity seminar about the evils of prostitution.

As of press time, however, an unconfirmed report out of Syracuse was claiming that Blatche wasn’t booked on solicitation charges, but for an outstanding warrant on his driving-without-a-license charge. A friend who was with him at the time of the arrest was the one arrested for attempted hooker loving, Blatche told a local Syracuse TV station. The Wizards haven’t commented on this latest development, and previous reports of his arrest were confirmed by police spokespersons, so who knows how this will turn out? Blatche is due in court on August 31.

In any case, it’s worth noting that solicitation busts are common in pro sports. The rule of thumb — or whatever part of the body is a more appropriate substitution in this case — seems to be that solicitation charges result in firings for assistant coaches, mild fines or suspensions for scrub players, and slaps on the wrist or no punishment at all for head coaches and/or good players. Former fullback and Bill Parcells favorite Richie Anderson was fired from an assistant-coaching gig by the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year for soliciting a hooker. On the other hand, the Atlanta Falcons were hours away from the Super Bowl some years back when safety Eugene Robinson celebrated his receipt of the annual “Bart Starr Award” (given by the religious group Athletes in Action to the athlete who shows “high moral character”) by going out and offering an undercover cop 40 bucks for a blowjob. No suspension ensued, and Robinson was eventually burned in the big game by Rod Smith for an 80-yard TD (two yards for each dollar offered by the cheapskate hypocrite).

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