Wizards are taking high road, where controversy goes flat

The Kickoff

February 14, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

Just when I was about to become a Washington Wizards fan, coach Eddie Jordan made up with Gilbert Arenas and the team held a players-only meeting to clear the air and now everything supposedly is ducky again.

How boring is that?

The last thing I want in my favorite NBA team is locker room harmony. Give me Kobe vs. Shaq, The Answer and Larry Brown or - if you want to get Wizzy with it - another spontaneous heavyweight boxing match between Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood.

When Arenas scored only nine points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday and blamed it on the coaching staff, I was sure he had gotten his diploma from the Terrell Owens School of Media Relations and we were in for the regular-season ride of our lives.

It only got better when Jordan responded by questioning Arenas' leadership ability, but then Jordan and team leader Antawn Jamison had to go and take the high road and patch up all the hurt feelings and, basically, ruin everything.

I hate the high road, and based on careful market research and highly accurate anecdotal evidence, I know that you do, too.

If you cared about the moral high ground, you wouldn't watch with such glee when Simon Cowell tears the heart out of some squeaky-voiced kid on American Idol. You wouldn't watch anything starring Donald Trump. And you wouldn't be reading me.

My readers root for the $1 briefcase on Deal or No Deal. They think that T.O. had a legitimate gripe in Philadelphia. They feel that Britney Spears was a bad influence on Kevin Federline instead of the other way around.

The Wicked Wizards were our kind of team, and before we even have a chance to warn our kids not to act like that, they start listening to their good angels again and I'm back clicking through the Internet to see if the Giants have finalized the Barry Bonds contract. Maybe they can make a trade and get Jeff Kent back, too.

Trust me on one thing. Good news is overrated. Do you think it would have been the lead story in the sports section yesterday if Kris Benson had called the Orioles to tell them his arm felt great? Have you ever seen a framed newspaper front page with a 60-point headline that says "Ocean liner arrives safely"?

Trouble is, Arenas actually is a decent guy and Jamison really is the team leader and Jordan is a pretty good coach, which he proved by deftly smoothing things over with his superstar shooter. The team has been in a mini-slump after playing pretty well for most of the season, so no one should be surprised that a couple of tempers have flared over the past week or so.

"We talked about everything. It was like a tuneup," Arenas said yesterday in his first comments about his remarks. "It was a tuneup for the team. We've lost four out of five. We're going into the All-Star break. This is when teams get lackadaisical, from both sides. Coaching staff felt we were getting lackadaisical, and we felt they were getting lackadaisical. We had a meeting and we got everything straightened out."

Jamison took Arenas aside and gave him a big-brotherly lecture on the correct way to express yourself when you're one of the top scorers in the league.

"He's got to understand that he's one of the well-known basketball players in the NBA," Jamison told the Associated Press, "so no matter what is said and done, he's definitely under a microscope, and he just has to be more cautious and choose what comes out of his mouth. He realizes that."

Arenas sat down with Jordan and made nice. The players-only meeting ended with everyone saying the right things.

"You're going to have disagreements in the household," forward Caron Butler said. "I disagree with my brother all the time. You have to know how to make everything work, and that's what we're doing now."

Frankly, I was afraid this type of thing would start happening around the league after Shaq and Kobe made up. The next thing you know, there's going to be an epidemic of good behavior in professional sports. (Except in Cincinnati, of course.) Everyone is going to try to one-up each other to see who can be the best (ugh!) role model.

Don't know about you, but I'm going to have trouble staying awake.

I guess the NBA can probably use a little boring right now, but I don't have to like it.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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