...and I found myself agreeing.
Dan Steinberg captured the highlights of Haywood's appearance on Mike Wise's radio show on 106.7 The Fan, for which Haywood is apparently getting a weekly show (really Brendan? Really?). Let's just say Brendan pulls no punches.
First, Haywood admonishes the Princeton offense, saying that it alienated a lot of the team's young players because it didn't allow them to take advantage of their skills. He claims Flip's offense will be better in that regard because it'll have more traditional sets, though people I respect have told me Flip's offense is fairly inflexible with roles.
But then Haywood was asked about his personal relationship with Eddie Jordan, and was specifically questioned about nameplate-gate. This is where it got good.
"If a coach and a player aren't seeing eye to eye, why is it always the player's fault? I never ever said anything negative about Eddie Jordan, but why is it always the player's fault? At some point you've got to look at who's he playing. Hey, if I'm not playing behind Yao Ming or Dwight Howard, I'm gonna sit down and be quiet. My thing is this: you've got to play your horses. I felt I was the best center we had on the team, I think I got a chance to show that.
"And I've always said one thing, if you give me consistent minutes I'll be consistent. Even before that, when Etan and Kwame were both hurt, I had a great year then. But when they came back, my minutes were scattered again, and as a player I couldn't understand that, and I didn't want to accept that role."
This is a bit of revisionist history: clearly Haywood said things that indicated his displeasure with Eddie Jordan. But his point about Etan and Kwame is quite true. We all forget the year Haywood had in 2004/05, but he was a major reason the Wizards had a resurgence. On offense, he posted the highest true shooting percentage of his career. His real value, though, was on defense, where he put together possibly the most underrated defensive campaign ever. Kevin Broom, back when he was at Real GM, did a piece where he tracked each defensive sequence and ultimately showed how big a difference Haywood made on the team's defense that year. On/off numbers from 82games confirmed all this -- the Wizards surrendered nearly 10 fewer points/100 possessions with Haywood in the game and forced teams to shoot 4% worse than with him out of the game (in terms of eFG%).
Yet despite that great year, Haywood saw his minutes drop from 27.4/game in 04/05 to 23.8/game in 05/06 and 22.6/game in 06/07. He began the 06/07 year on the bench, which was crazy. Haywood won the starting job in 04/05, performed admirably, then suddenly lost it. There was no center controversy with the Wizards until Eddie Jordan created it.
But it gets worse.
It's easier, Bill Rohland pointed out, to move a player than a coach if the two are feuding.
"I totally agree," Haywood answered, "but at the same time, I feel there has to be a level of accountability on both ends. You know, if you're not playing your best players, then you're doing your team a disservice, especially when you're doing it to try to make a point, when you're trying to spite somebody. You know, you can't go out there and play against Ilgauskas with guys that are 6-8, 6-9. You're hurting the team. You're hurting D.C. It's not about you; it's about the team."
Music to my ears. Haywood is specifically talking about the 2007 playoffs, when he got benched as Zydrunas Ilgauskas killed us, but he might as well have been talking about all the times EJ tried to motivate him by benching him. Such maneuvers helped nobody. It hurt the team because Haywood was better than anyone behind him (much better, in fact), it hurt EJ and Haywood's relationship and, in the long run, it hurt Haywood because it killed his resolve and motivation. The only person it helped is Eddie, and only in the short-term "I will not let anyone walk over me" way.
That's why I always got so concerned when Andray Blatche got benched. It reeked of the same character, even if Blatche deserves it more than Haywood.
Anyway, point is, we're seeing more and more that Eddie had a detrimental effect on our locker room and our team after a while. We're seeing that he was stubborn, that he had his way (Princeton offense) and that he undermined his own efforts to improve the team defensively. Benching Haywood was the worst sin, and Haywood's finally speaking his mind about it. I can't wait for Eddie to alienate Samuel Dalembert in the same manner.