A celebration of the NBA's most infuriating players, both past and present. Read other NBA Shit List entries here.
It is Oct. 17, my wedding anniversary. I am standing in front of the St. Regis hotel in Manhattan. It's cold and windy, and I am embarrassingly underdressed (tourist that I am). My nose is running, and I want a drink. Very suddenly, I am all alone.
What has happened? Did I say something? My wife is barreling through the crowd on the corner, headed very quickly away from me—did I say something? Honey? Oh—now she's yelling something over her shoulder. Honey!
It's Jake Gyllenhaal! Hurry!
Now I'm racing after her. Not because I care about Jake Gyllenhaal. No—I'm chasing my wife along 55th Street in the biting cold because if she gets to Jake Gyllenhaal before I get to her, I will never see her again. And this will make for one seriously deflating wedding anniversary, with me sobbing alone over a plate of pasta at a romantic anniversary dinner-for-one, and my wife passionately fellating a celebrity uptown.
And where is this man? Honey, where is he ... that's him? Yes, there he is, the man racing away from us, alone and inconspicuous. Or, really, that could be any man, hidden as he is under a green hoodie and shades with a beard. We are not alone in our pursuit—a group of teenagers is hot on his trail, closing in. They are in a full sprint. Luckily for Jake, he hits the intersection before they make contact, jogs into the intersection, stops traffic, jogs on. Here is a serious man, aware of his visibility, protecting his privacy. What is he doing out here? Exercising? We will never know. I am unwilling to run after Jake Gyllenhaal, and my wife succumbs to the pull of loyalty and/or guilt. Alas, she will not be making sweet, sweet love to Jake Gyllenhaal on our eighth wedding anniversary. I will have to apologize for this over dinner, I'm sure.
And there he goes, is going, is gone. We turn back, the teens abandon their pursuit, and Jake blends into the next crowd and moves on. Is that a lonely existence? It seems lonely. Boy, being famous must stink. I make sure to hammer this point as my crestfallen life-partner resigns herself to a night of sitting across a dinner table from me instead of straddling a wealthy, world-famous heartthrob. Being famous stinks. He looked miserable.
The Shit List archives: Nick Young | Anthony Carter | Toney Douglas | Bill Cartwright | Dahntay Jones | DeShawn Stevenson | Michael Sweetney | Eddie House | Sasha Vujacic | Voshon Lenard | Eric Leckner | Dwight Howard | Andris Biedrins | Antawn Jamison | Don Nelson | Nate Robinson | Tony Massenburg | Reggie Evans
Minutes later we're preparing to cross Park Avenue, and there is a sweatsuit-clad tree in my way. A tree? Here, on the corner of Park Avenue? In a gray sweatsuit? Can't be. Oh honey, look, it's Andray Blatche. Andray Blatche and an entourage. Four smaller men, also in gray sweatsuits. Who is Andray Blatche? He's just a lousy basketball player who used to play poorly for the Wizards. He is known now more for being booed by the home crowd for half a season than for anything accomplished on the court.
She declines to give chase.
Andray Blatche is a ridiculous sight tucked into a crowd of tourists and shoppers and working types, crossing a busy intersection on a Wednesday. He's not just the tallest person there; he's more than a foot taller than anyone else. I watch as the walk sign flashes and the group moves into the intersection. I seem to be the only person within eyesight who cares that a nominal NBA player is among us. There, without the remotest concern, is a famous basketball player, looming outrageously over two dozen or more fellow crosswalkers, surrounded by a group of identically clad friends, somehow totally anonymous to everyone in sight. I feel downright stupid for knowing or caring. Blatche, for his part, looks content. He doesn't wear the misery of fame quite as obviously as Jake Gyllenhaal.
The differences between these two men are too numerous to count, but among them are these: 1. Jake Gyllenhaal is much more talented than Andray Blatche; 2. Jake Gyllenhaal is much more famous than Andray Blatche. 3. Andray Blatche made twice as much money last year as Jake Gyllenhaal made for starring in Jarhead. Also, Andray Blatche is everything that is wrong with the NBA, which goes a long way toward explaining No. 3. Andray Blatche is why there is an amnesty clause in the new collective bargaining agreement. The $28 million contract extension he received in 2007 is still the second-worst example of Ernie Grunfeld's ineptitude as an NBA general manager. He was such a burden both on the court and on the books that the Wizards chose to amnesty his contract instead of Rashard Lewis's, which was only the worst contract in NBA history. Blatche is my least favorite NBA player, maybe ever.
Look at this fucking shit:
This is a man who airballs fadeaway jumpers and pounds layups off the side of the backboard, who was once whistled for a travel in a game against the Orlando Magic when he airballed a wide-open, one-handed dunk and then caught the ball on the other side of the rim. He doesn't play defense so much as exist fatly in a designated space. He defends his man the way a throw pillow defends a sofa cushion. In response to an undercover officer who had asked him, "What do you want, head or fuck?" Blatche once responded, "Well, I want both"—a sort of double dribble, characteristically.