Post­ing Up

Dan Stein­berg takes an ir­rev­er­ent look at the Wiz­ards-Cav­a­liers play­off se­ries

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports -

Limp­ing With the Stars

On one side of the arena last night sat in­jured all-stars Caron But­ler and Gil­bert Are­nas, in street clothes, cheer­ing on their team­mates. On the other side sat in­jured all-star Crys­tal, do­ing the same.

Like But­ler and Are­nas, Crys­tal, a mem­ber of the Wiz­ards dance team, was hav­ing a ca­reer sea­son in this, her fourth year with the team. The high­light came in Jan­uary, when she was se­lected as Wash­ing­ton’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the All-Star Game in an on­line vote, join­ing But­ler and Are­nas in Las Ve­gas.

“It was amaz­ing to per­form in front of all those peo­ple,” she said yes­ter­day. “It was prob­a­bly the coolest thing I’ve done so far as a dancer.”

Then came the in­jury bug, nip­ping at Crys­tal’s heels be­fore it reached her more cel­e­brated col­leagues. Dur­ing a March 17 home win over New Or­leans, the Fort Wash­ing­ton na­tive leapt off a tram­po­line and com­pleted a tom­a­hawk dunk be­fore land­ing awk­wardly.

“I knew some­thing was wrong, but I felt like I could walk it off,” she said. “But I tried to, and I couldn’t.”

She was taken off on a gur­ney, and the team doc­tor di­ag­nosed a torn ACL in her right knee, al­though she couldn’t bear to go to the hospi­tal that night, not want­ing any more bad news. An MRI exam sev­eral days later — at the same of­fice that would later per­form the MRI exam on Are­nas — con­firmed the in­jury. The Univer­sity of Mary­land pub­lic health stu­dent is sched­uled to have surgery in May, and said she won’t be 100 per­cent un­til next De­cem­ber.

Of course, within three weeks, But­ler and Are­nas also were shelved by in­juries, leav­ing Coach Ed­die Jor­dan and his as­sis­tants the team’s only un­scathed all-stars.

“The coach­ing staff bet­ter watch it­self,” But­ler said yes­ter­day. “Step on a crack, break your mama’s back, all that.”

But Crys­tal — who con­tin­ued at­tend­ing home games, like But­ler, and even dance team prac­tices de­spite her in­jury — said she didn’t be­lieve the fran­chise was cursed.

“I just think it’s a string of bad luck, and it could hap­pen to any team,” she said. “It is un­for­tu­nate, but I still have faith. It’s been an amaz­ing year, re­gard­less of the in­jury. I would still do the tom­a­hawk dunk. If I was able to to­mor­row, I would def­i­nitely do it.”

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