The Brooklyn Nets have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA lately. Ever since P.J. Carlesimo replaced Avery Johnson as interim coach, they’ve been reeling off wins like nobody’s business, re-establishing themselves as one of the tougher teams in the East–the kind of team you would not want to face come playoff time.
One of the big reasons for this has been power forward Andray Blatche, who has enjoyed a major career renaissance with the Nets. Blatche has started in some games and played a sixth-man role in others and in either scenario, he is playing the best basketball of his career.
His player efficiency rating is a shockingly high 23.2, which is good for ninth in the league, ahead of superstars such as Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade and Tony Parker. He is also shooting at the highest percentage of his career and by all accounts has a decent shot at winning Sixth Man of the Year.
Unfortunately, for all the great things Blatche has brought to Brooklyn on the court, he’s also brought a fair amount of baggage. This guy’s reputation was absolutely destroyed in Washington.
He often displayed shades of the same type of brilliance he’s given the Nets this year, but it didn’t matter. The bad Blatche far outweighed the good Blatche, as he habitually underachieved on the court and got into myriad troubles off of it. By the time it was over, the Wizards and their fans were utterly thrilled the see him leave our nation’s capital.
But hey, he’s turned over a new leaf, right? This is totally going to work out for the Nets, right?
Eh, not so fast.
Last week, Blatche found himself in hot water off the court again as he allegedly witnessed two members of his entourage raping a 21-year-old woman. Blatche denied this claim, saying he wasn’t worried about the situation and that he simply wanted to focus on basketball.
In Blatche’s defense, he hasn’t been charged with a crime and has no risk of facing jail time. Additionally, we don’t know for sure if Blatche actually was in the room or just what actually occurred.
So we can’t demonize him for this yet, but considering his track record it certainly doesn’t look good. When a player with a checkered past like Blatche’s is in a situation like this, it’s difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt.
And what if the story is true? What if Blatche witnessed a rape occurring and did nothing to stop it? In that case, it would be difficult to view him as anything more than a coward, and one of the least admirable people in the league.
Right now, Carlesimo and the Nets are basically ignoring the situation. This is a luxury they have because Blatche won’t face charges so they don’t have to worry about him missing any time on the court. Still, if these allegations turn out to be true, I can’t see how they would possibly want a guy like Blatche on their team.
I won’t officially pass judgment on Blatche until more details about the case comes out. It’s certainly possible that he didn’t know what was going on and had no way of stopping it.
Still, for a guy who had supposedly become a new, better person and was leaving his old ways behind him, this is bad form to say the least.
When the Nets took a chance on Blatche, they knew about every problem he had, on the court and off. They gave him a shot because they saw his potential and hoped he could better himself.
On the court, that’s exactly what he’s done, becoming the best backup big in the NBA and someone who could easily start for many teams in the league.
But off the court, he may be the same bad seed he was in Washington.
Maybe he’ll be cleared of any wrongdoing, but if he really did see a rape happen and did nothing to stop it, he’s a reprehensible human being and no team should want him in their locker room–no matter how high his PER is.
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