Blatche making most of opportunity

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Washington forward Andray Blatche has always had the talent. Blatche is a sturdy 6-11, and has a long wingspan and excellent athleticism for his size. He’s also an uncommonly skilled player for his size, able to hit the mid-range jumper, and put the ball on the floor. When Blatche has gone inside, he’s even showed some very nice post moves around the basket.

Drafted straight out of high school, the 23-year old Blatche is already playing in his fifth NBA season. During those five years, Blatche has gained a reputation as somewhat of a disappointing NBA player. He’s been a summer-league dynamo who will show flashes of greatness, but has yet to put it all together at the NBA level. He would drift in and out of games, and would sometimes get caught up trying to be to pretty rather than using his size and taking the ball right at the rim. Blatche’s career high in points is 10.0, he’s never shot better than 50%, and he’s never averaged more than two free throw attempts per game.

Since the Wizards traded Antawn Jamison, Blatche has come on strong. In the four games since Jamison left the lineup, Blatche has scored 24 or more points three times, and pulled down 11 or more rebounds three times. He’s still using his mid-range touch, but is also making a more concerted effort to go to the basket. He was 8-11 at the rim during his breakout 33-point game against the Timberwolves, and went to the line 9 times when the Wizards beat the Bulls last night. Blatche is picking his shots wisely, and has shot better than 50% from the field in each of the four games since Jamison left.

If Blatche can continue to play this way, he can be a major building block for the Wizards going forward. Additionally, second-year center JaVale McGee might have even more natural talent than Blatche, but has been even more erratic over the course of his brief career. If he can get with the program like Blatche has, the Wizards could have a very scary young starting frontcourt.

Jeopardy uses “crying Jordan” meme for question

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You know a meme has jumped the shark when it appears on Jeopardy. (Also, the phrase “jump the shark” has jumped the shark.)

The “crying Jordan” meme reached that level this week when Alex Trebek asked a question about it.

This in no way means we should stop using the crying Jordan meme — even if it bothers MJ himself, and it does — because it’s still funny.

Charles Barkley on new schedule: “These poor babies can’t play back-to-back games”

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Training camp hasn’t even opened yet, but Charles Barkley is already in midseason “get off my lawn” form.

Barkley — the man who can’t stand jump shooting teams, or analytics, or LeBron James asking for better players, or your newfangled technology — went off on another tedious rant at an SMU event Wednesday, this time about the NBA’s decision to start the season a little earlier and have fewer back-to-backs and eliminate four-games-in-five-nights.

Ugh. Like a lot of former players — and a lot of non-athletes, for that matter — Barkley is convinced his peak as a player coincided with the greatest era of basketball ever. Things were never better than the way they did it in his day.

Which means facts — like pointing to the studies that show players both are less likely to be injured and play better and more efficiently when rested — don’t matter. Barkley did it, so players now should have to do it. Who cares if all these packed in games can shorten their careers?

Then again, maybe a few days off would have helped Barkley in the second half of his career.

B.J. Armstrong, former Jordan-era Bull turned agent, told me last year that if teams and players knew in his day what they know now about rest and injury, you would have seen stars like MJ rest. Over time we learn more information, and the smart people and organizations adjust.

Barkley will make far more headlines over the course of the season, he gets paid to be brash, say whatever pops into head, and be generally draw attention to himself. It makes him entertaining, and that’s what Inside the NBA is about. But I will defer to Steve Kerr’s comments from last playoffs on all these old “get off my lawn” players.

“The game gets worse as time goes on. Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the 50s would’ve destroyed everybody. It’s weird how human evolution goes in reverse in sports. Players get weaker, smaller, less skilled. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.”

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.