Before the Wizards actually won their playoff series with the Chicago Bulls, I was afraid to vocalize this rant for fear of jinxing the quite jinx-prone Washington squad. But now the Wizards are through to the second round to play the Miami Heat, and there is a peculiar aspect of the series that I want to bring to everyone's attention.
If we go through the 8-man rotation for these two teams, it's very interesting. At point, Gilbert Arenas and Dwayne Wade are very similar players, both scoring point guards with elite offensive weapons and middling defensive abilities. I probably give the edge to Wade very slightly, but you could make a case for either guy. A wash.
At the two, there's really no comparison to be made between Larry Hughes, a minor star, and Damon Jones, a three-point specialist role player. Jones is important to his team, but Hughes is a far, far better player. Big advantage Wizards.
At three, Eddie Jones and Antawn Jamison are both kind of the quintessential third-banana type guy, guys who take too many shots but are tolerated because they make just enough of them. Latrell Sprewell is the prototype for this kind of player. I give a slight edge to Jones due to experience, but of course there is a point in one's career where experience becomes just plain old age. Jones is definitely knocking on that door, if he isn't already inside chilling on that couch. Jamison is a lot more athletic at this point, but Jones is the better clutch player. I'll be generous and say slight advantage Heat here.
At four, we have another matchup of similar players in Jared Jefferies and Udonis Haslem, young guys who do some things but haven't fully developed their floor games yet in their young careers. Both have a lot of potential but neither is somebody you count on for consistent production. A wash.
On the bench, the Wizards have Etan Thomas, a bruising rebounder and post defender, Michael Ruffin, another rebounding specialist, and Juan Dixon, a good explosive scorer who can give you some great nights. The Heat actually use a 9-man rotation, which is kind of unusual for an elite team, so their bench is Christian Laettner, a limited hustle player and jump shooter, Alonzo Mourning, a mostly washed-up post defender rebounder, Keyon Dooling, a guard who was a career 40% shooter with the Clippers before landing a job as an energy player with the heat, and Shandon Anderson, who's old and untalented and basically there just to give ball handling minutes. Big advantage Wizards.
So on two key counts, the Wizards are clearly much better, with perhaps a slight Heat advantage on one count and a wash on two other counts. But there's one thing we haven't discussed, and that's Center. The Wizards have Brendan Haywood, a talented seven-footer with good potential who's really had some nice games recently for the Wizards and seems to be coming into his own.
The Heat have Shaq.
And thus, if the Heat don't sweep the Wizards, it will be a mild surprise. If the Wizards somehow find a way to push the series to a game 6 in Washington, it will be a huge upset. All because of Shaq.
The Lakers traded this man.
This was stupid. In fact, it may be the worst move in the history of sports. I know the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth. But at least at the time Ruth was at the beginning of what would only later become a massively awesome career. Shaq was actually in the prime of his massively awesome career when he was traded. And now he's off being massively awesome with some other team while the team he used to play for sits at home with their 34-48 record and their Center-by-committee tandem of Vlade "Methuselah" Divac and Chris "The Secret of" Mihm.
And don't even talk to me about Sam Bowie over Jordan. Nobody knew that was stupid at the time. Everybody knew trading Shaq was stupid except the people who did it, and Kobe.
I don't know what my point is. I don't even like the Lakers. I'm just outraged that someone with so much money could be so dumb as to trade Shaq. A pox on the Lakers, forever and ever.
I'm going to bed.
Nice work, Wizards.