If it was difficult for Andray Blatche to play at Verizon Center when he was still a member of the Wizards, his return for the first time with Brooklyn Nets could set a new standard for unwelcomed visiting players.
“For him? It’s definitely tough,” Wizards forward Trevor Booker said. “I hope he gets out alive.”
Booker anticipates more than just “a lot of boos” on Friday when the Nets visit Washington.
“I heard they got extra security over on his bench just in case somebody, like, want to throw stuff,” Booker said. “I don’t know how true that is.”
Things got so bad for Blatche last season that he was booed during introductions before a game against Oklahoma City last January, on every missed shot and nearly every time he touched the ball.
“He was out on the court so we had to pass him the ball,” Booker said. “It was no way around it. It was tough. It was definitely tough for us and him.”
A left calf strain eventually sidelined Blatche, and the Wizards kept him on the bench for conditioning reasons before using the amnesty clause to part ways in the offseason. The eighth-year forward landed in Brooklyn, where he’s averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds as center Brook Lopez’s primary backup.
“I wish him nothing but the best,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “I think the time was right for everybody involved to go in a different direction. It wasn’t anything more than that. I like Dray. I hope the best for him, except [Friday] night.”
The problem is, Blatche hasn’t exactly made peace with his former team – one that is still paying him $23 million – jokingly asking reporters how the Wizards were doing in November when they were 0-12 and the Nets were 8-4. He then took shots during a radio interview with 106.7 The Fan on Nov. 27. Brooklyn is 8-11 since, but that’s still better than the Wizards, who have gone 4-14 during the same stretch.
The records aren’t likely to matter when the teams take the court Friday night.
“If I was playing, I would shut it down,” Booker said. “But I’m not playing.”