‘Bleed­ing Wiz­ard blood’

The Washington Post Sunday - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS - BY DAN STEINBERG  dan.steinberg@wash­post.com Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/ dc­sports­bog

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.


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