I've enjoyed myself plenty of Michael Wilbon columns in the past. Sure, he plays his agendas (as I suppose it's the right of a nationally recognized columnist to do so), but he brings a commodity that resonates with MSM outlets and their target audiences alike.
However, with his ever increasing presence on the national scene, I can't help to feel that Wilbon tries to be outrageous, just to be outrageous. Then again, he is chums with Charles Barkley.....but Barkley has a sense of humor.
Wilbon's latest column, "For Wizards, It's a Pain to Look Ahead," was obligatory I suppose...you know, with the Wizards injury situation. Perhaps Washington Post executive editor, Marcus Brauchili, desired, posthaste, to get Wilbon's good name on an NBA piece before getting trumped by ESPN/ABC with the professional basketball season around the corner. Unfortunately, the result was a disappointing show and an unfortunate display of naiveté.
Wilbon leads with stories of an NBA "brimming with good news" and optimism. However, the first team he gushes over is the Houston Rockets and their attempts to tame Ron Artest. Sure, the Rockets made a great low-risk move in getting Artest from Sacramento for a rookie, Donte Green, and Bobby Jackson, a 35-year old who is an inch away from retirement and a starring role in a movie about Baltimore gangster, Little Melvin Williams (if you are a fan of The Wire, you'll know Williams served as inspiration for the show, along with playing 'The Deacon' - Williams and Bobby Jack are dead look alikes).
Stories out of Rockets camp read much like the high the Wizards were feeling upon leaving Richmond....great camp, excited to match-up against someone other than teammates. But if you're telling me that "optimism" in Houston is anything more than extremely guarded, you've got to be kidding yourself.
The team's two stars, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, have missed a combined 148 games over the past three seasons. In fact, T-Mac had knee surgery in May and has already announced that he's got an arthritic shoulder which will require surgery after this season. Rockets fans may be excited about their prospects, but if they're not walking on egg shells regarding that key issue of health, just as Wizards fans were after this latest setback with Arenas, then I'm at a loss.
But here is where Wilbon is borderline insulting....at least to the common knowledge of Wizards fans:
Haywood has his share of haters, people who'll undoubtedly use what he doesn't do (dominate the game) to argue that he won't be sorely missed, and that his absence will free up time for the rookie first-round draft pick, JaVale McGee.
That would be a silly position to take. McGee, who played only two years of college basketball, isn't ready for the NBA's big-man mayhem.
It's a misnomer to even write that first paragraph. Yes, I have been a Haywood Hater in the past. But last season more than quelled those feelings for me...and I considered myself to be amongst the far reaches of Haywood haterdom. I suppose it's plausible that Haywood would still have detractors who are relishing in his absence.....but even if such a person does exist, they are beyond "silly" and more likely not literate enough to read the words of a blog-hating scribe in the first place. And who in their right mind would expect Haywood to "dominate" a game with three other All-Stars on the team?
That's fine if Wilbon wanted to tell us that McGee isn't ready, and then a couple paragraphs later, say that the Wizards will do nothing without their youth catching fire. But using what is now a pointless debate about Haywood is a fallacious means to his end.
Look, I understand the point Wilbon is making. When healthy, the Wizards may compete in the east, but when not, the chances are slim. Not exactly ground-breaking material. Maybe I'm overreacting, but I don't think it's beyond reason to expect better from a national media figure. I'm not saying I won't continue to sporadically enjoy PTI, or that a greatly penned column is out of question for Wilbon in the future. I'm just saying that when it comes to sports inside the Beltway, if Wilbon were to look behind him right now, he might see a shark swimming below.