Andray Blatche has taken a cold-hearted approach to his first return to the building and city where he spent the first seven years of his NBA career.
“I have no feeling at all for it,” Blatche said prior to shootaround with the Brooklyn Nets on the Verizon Center main court Friday morning. “It’s another game. It’s a regular game for me. No emotional ties or nothing. I’m just going to go out and play.”
Former Wizards teammate Trevor Booker said Thursday that he expected Blatche to be welcomed by boos and more from a crowd that was hostile to Blatche when he was still a member of the team. But Blatche said he wasn’t worried about it being difficult.
“To be honest with you, then can boo as loud as they want,” Blatche said. “They supposed to now because I don’t play for them so that’s not going to affect me at all.”
Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo joked in his shootaround chat with reporters that he “was toying with the idea of resting him and saving him for Sacramento tomorrow,” but no one quite laughed at the joke.
In fact, Blatche likely has had the game circled on his calendar since the calendar came out, and Carlesimo said he preferred that approach.
“I’d rather that than just, ‘It’s another game,’” Carlesimo said. “Really, it’s part of the learning experience. The next time he comes back here and the time after that and all that. And guys that have been traded or been in a couple of other cities, it’s a little different every time they go home, particularly guys that have been with teams for a while. Like if you’ve played somewhere for a long time and it’s the first time you go back. It’s always a little different for them.”
After getting waived by the Wizards via the amnesty clause, Blatche spent much of the offseason in Houston working with John Lucas, who helped him get in shape and rediscover the game that had enticed the Wizards to give him the $35 million extension before the 2010-11 season that they’re still paying for.
“I feel after last season some people may have forgot or some people thought that it was over for me,” Blatche said. “But I owe a lot for John Lucas and Coach Avery [Johnson] for giving me another chance to get me back right. Bigs up to them.”
Blatche said nothing has changed for him since Carlesimo took over for Johnson, who was fired on Dec. 27, and the Nets have won three out for four since. But Johnson and Nets general manager Billy King were critical in getting to know Blatche, and deciding to take a chance.
“There is no question, he had a special bond with Avery and was probably, I haven’t thought about, probably the most affected out of all of them,” Carlesimo said. “Because, even though it was a short time, that decision and his relationship with Avery was such that it probably impacted him more than anybody.”
Blatche said he sent Johnson a text to tell him how much he appreciated what had been done. He’s also remained friends with many of his former Wizards teammates like Nick Young and JaVale McGee. But those guys are also gone, and only a few players are left on the current Washington roster played with Blatche, who said there’s no bad blood.
“I ain’t worried about these kids no more,” Blatche said. “I’m more concerned about other stuff. It’s nothing major. I’m just going to treat it like another game, go out and have fun.”