JaVale McGee's dunk in the Washington Wizard's Monday afternoon game against the Houston Rockets ended up a controversial play, leading to criticism from head coach Flip Saunders as well as some of his teammates.
In the third quarter of the Wizards' 114-106 loss to the Rockets, with the Wizards down six, John Wall catches a pass from Trevor Booker, who saved the ball from going out of bounds off of a missed layup from Kyle Lowry, and throws it ahead in transition to JaVale McGee who was all alone. Javale McGee then throws the ball off of the backboard, catches it in mid-air, and throws down a monstrous dunk.
ESPN is sure to make it a top ten play nominee and the crowd had to love that kind of play. However, the Wizard's bench was not so amused. Coaches were visibly frustrated with the excessive dunk. Saunders deemed it "unacceptable" while Wizards' assistant coach Randy Wittman could be seen rolling his eyes.
JaVale McGee was later benched in the game, although Saunders claims it was due to the fact that the team played better when McGee was not on the floor, but after seeing his face after the dunk, one could not help but believe that it may have had something to do with that play too.
The Wizards are 1-12, off to the worst start in franchise history. Fans hardly make it to any of the games anymore because the Wizards are almost guaranteed to lose by at least 12. The Washington Post just released an article titled "Wizards Struggle to stay Positive Through Disheartening Campaign" showing that the team clearly needs a spark.
JaVale McGee attempted to provide that spark.
"I was trying to get the team hype and trying to make a good play" McGee said after the game. But he was scolded for it and benched by his head coach. This represents what is wrong with the Wizards.
Everything is too tense, there is no team chemistry. “Apparently, if you get a fast break and throw it off the backboard in the third quarter, and you’re 1-11, you’re not supposed to do stuff like that" according to McGee. Why not? This team needs to lighten up and have more fun on the court.
As a fan, that play was one of the highlights of the season. It got the fans excited and it should have gotten the team excited too. Instead, the mentality of the team was too stern and negative to take away what they were supposed from that dunk.
Those types of plays can have the same role as a fight in hockey. It gets your team riled up and excited about the game so they can go out there motivated. How often have you seen flashy dunks by Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, or Michael Jordan in the middle of games to hype up the team and the fans?
The Wizards should have fed off of that dunk and made a run to take the lead in that game. Instead, the Rockets went on a 19-4 run to take an 83-64 lead that all but put the game out of reach. I blame that on the atmosphere on the Wizards' bench created by the coaching staff.
Not only should these types of plays be acceptable, they should be encouraged. It is not like he missed and embarrassed himself, he made it and cut the lead to 4! The Wizards need a reason to get up and motivated for every game. They will get better if they start to have fun.
Everybody in that locker room has to be beyond frustrated and those feelings start to pile on with the losses. Sometimes, you need a break from it all to realize that this is a game they are playing; they should be having fun. JaVale McGee and Nick Young, who supported McGee's dunk, seem to be the only people who realize that.
"It’s basketball. The game I love. This is the game everybody wanted to do when they was kids" said Nick Young. That is the mindset that the whole team needs. That is where the motivation should come from.
McGee scored two points on that play. The same amount he would have scored if he had gone with a layup instead. The only difference? The fans finally have a reason to leave the Verizon Center happy and the Wizards will finally get some national attention from ESPN.
So I say lighten up Flip, let they guys play the way they want. Maybe then, we could start seeing some heart and effort from the Wizards.
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