by Micah Hart
What to do with you, JaVale McGee? That’s what Wizards coach Flip Saunders must spend a good amount of time thinking — at least when he’s not thinking the same about Andray Blatche or Nick Young, or …
Anyway, take this play, for instance, from yesterday’s Wizards-Rockets tilt:
Now, before we get into what happened afterward and who is right or wrong, let’s please all first acknowledge the dunk was awesome and clearly Dunk Ladder material.
In a vacuum, McGee’s aerial display is exactly what makes the NBA so amazing. I’d wager that we all secretly wish every player on a breakaway would do something like it.
But McGee’s slam did not occur in a vacuum; it occurred with the Wizards trailing the Rockets in the third quarter of a game they were losing and with the team’s record at 1-11, soon to be 1-12.
And so Saunders sent McGee to the bench, where he sat for the rest of the game save a couple minutes early in the fourth quarter.
There are a lot of opinions about whether this kind of showboating has a place in the NBA (and other sports as well), but I’d say the general rule of thumb is it is only acceptable when you are winning. Which, to refresh your memory, the Wizards are not. It reminds me of LeBron’s Cavaliers teams and their elaborate pre-game rituals. As long as they were winning it was cute. But as soon as they fell to Orlando in the playoffs you started to hear “maybe if they’d spent more time practicing basketball instead of handshakes …” and other tropes.
Both sides are right, and both sides are wrong. Sports are supposed to be fun, and that’s clearly what McGee was trying to do here — have some fun. But there is a time and place, and one look at the Wizards’ place in the standings shows that they haven’t really earned the right to goof off. That’s why most don’t have a problem with Saunders’ decision to make McGee sit in timeout and think about what he’d done.
Still … it was a pretty sweet dunk.