‘Bleeding Wizard blood’
If, say, four years ago, the Wizards had drafted a precocious teenager coming off a sometimes erratic single season in college who happily noted that his spiky shoes would shut down the NBA draft, that his new team would win a championship, that he has swag, and that Washington will love him, more than a few eyebrows would have been raised.
But we’re well beyond the wackadoodle Wizards era, when immaturity combined with immaturity to produce extreme immaturity, leading to many entertaining stories and also a great many losses.
The new Wizards are a virtual lock to make the playoffs. They’re also— if I’m being honest— a bit boring off the court.
Don’t getme wrong, this is good! A flavorless winner is far better than a Flavortown loser, and what Bradley Beal lacks in punchy quotes, he more than makes up for in three-pointers made.
It’s just been odd to witness the rapid transition from the fun-loving Arenas Era to the sometimes buffoonish interregnum to the professional but understated Wall Era, occasionally spiced up by photos of Marcin Gortat with a pig or Paul Pierce’s social media guy, but largely buttoned-up.
Nene rarely speaks. Beal and John Wall are both courteous and incisive, but almost never entertaining behind a mike. Otto Porter Jr. appears as anxious to be quoted as do his goggles. Randy Wittman likes small-ball lineups more than he likes media scrums. There’s a reason Drew Gooden III is quoted in so many stories, and it isn’t just because he reps North Bethesda.
Into this mix now comes Kelly Oubre Jr. The rookie will likely take his cues from his new teammates and will likely become a more staid professional within the next few months. But Thursday night was his night, and he produced more entertaining lines than Beal typically does in a season. A sampling. On his draft night trade
“You know, it’s over now. I’m a Washington Wizard, so I definitely take pride in that. I’m being insulated with Washington blood now, so I’m definitely bleeding Wizard blood.” On his favorite draft night fashion choice
“My pinky ring. It’s definitely something that’s different. My shoes, obviously, the shoes are killing it, but they speak for themselves. But the little accessory onmy pinky is definitely something that’s my favorite.” On his spiky shoes
“Just being stylish, man. You know, I have swag, so I know for sure that I can steal the show with some of the stuff that I put on. So that definitely went intomy decision-making, and I’m a confident person. My swag pretty much resembles that, and it did tonight with my shoes andmy suit.” More on his spiky shoes
“I’m a grown man. I have my own style, I have my own mind, I have my own heartbeat. So I walked out ofmy room today knowing that I was going to shut it down with these shoes.” On his work ethic
“I’m so happy I’m with the organization, because they had confidence in me to know what I can do. And not seeing your workout in person? I just feel like I owe them, that I have to give them 300 percent.” On his new home
“I mean, I’ve been to Washington multiple times. Washington is not someplace that I’ve never seen before. So going to Washington, I feel like I can be very involved with the community. I feel as if I can make a name formyself out there and be somebody that people talk highly of, speak highly of. Because I’m a mature young man and I have the characteristics that you can easily fall in love with. So the city will definitely love me.” On his skills
“I have confidence in my self, so I believed that I was a top 10 pick from the get-go. I don’t think that there’s 15 guys, or however many guys, that are better than me. So I’m definitely blessed to be with the Washington Wizards, and I have a platform right now to show what I can do.” On what he brings to the NBA
“Defense first. Bringing that grit and that dog to the team and pretty much just being who I am. Being me, and just doing what coach needs me to do. Anything he needs me to do to help the team win, that’s what I’m ready to do.” On his expectations
“Whoever gets me is getting a jewel, you know what I mean? I feel like I’m a steal in this draft. I’m ready to win a championship. And whatever team gets me, we’re winning a championship, and I’m ready to put the work in to do so.”
(Sources: One-on-one interview with Monumental Network, one-on-one interview with Comcast SportsNet, conference call with local reporters, onair interview with ESPN.)
New Wizard Kelly Oubre Jr., flanked by Coach Randy Wittman andGMErnie Grunfeld, is delivering entertaining lines.