Andray Blatche is back in Washington D.C., and he was out at a charity event at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover, Md. on Saturday. Thanks to a couple people, I was able to get a chance to sit down one-on-one with Blatche to discuss his summer, his charity work, his foot injury last year and his expectations for the new season.
The full interview follows below the jump. A couple notes:
- We talked a lot about Blatche's charity mission to Jamaica in late June. Blatche went with a crew of mostly NFL players that include Raheem Brock of the Seattle Seahawks, Shaun Smith of the Tennessee Titans and former Bengals running back Rudi Johnson. It's his second trip back there. Blatche has been working on donating money to build a field for a university in Kingston, and he also spoke at a bunch of youth camps. The Wizards cheerleaders came with him on this trip.
- Blatche also has an initiative through his foundation to plant trees in a garden in Florida. He's been handing out special children's coloring books that have the kids color in scenes where Blatche recommends they eat right and such. I'll give you some scenes from these later.
- The trainer he worked with this summer is Ed Downs, who used to do some work with the Heat. He's worked with Jamal Mashburn and Alonzo Mourning in the past.
- In Michael Lee's interview with Blatche, he mentioned that he's trying to bring players down to work out this week. Maybe that's still happening - I don't know. He seemed to indicate to me, though, that was put on hold for a couple reasons. One is that the Impact Basketball League begins Monday, and six Wizards are playing in that. Also, my understanding is many of the players were having issues flying in to D.C. because of the heightened terrorism alert. Nick Young was supposed to be at this event on Saturday, for example, but his plane was postponed.
- There was a lot of background noise at the beginning, so the transcript may not be exact for the first few answers. The long ones at the end are definitely 100 percent accurate.
Anyway, without further ado, here's the interview.
BF: Good to see you again. How's your summer been? What have you been up to?
AB: Summer's been great. I've had a lot more time to do a lot more things. I've been working out, keeping busy. With a lockout, it's given me more time to see family, and one thing I've been trying to do is do more charity work.
BF: What message are you trying to send to the kids here?
AB: There's no message [for this]. My family's been gone, so for this, it's more about coming out here and spending time with the kids. Just spending time with the kids.
BF: You also took a trip to Jamaica this summer. What type of stuff were you doing out there?
AB: We had like a basketball training gift exchange, and me and a bunch of football guys are renovating a field down there. You know, just giving back. I know how it was growing up, forced to work hard every day. I just want to send them my blessing and give out a good message.
BF: It's your second time there, right?
BF: This time, you went with a bunch of NFL guys like you said. Who was in your group?
AB: Last year, it was Delonte West, Shaun Smith, Raheem Brock, Rudi Johnson. This year, it was basically the same guys, plus my people.
BF: How did you come to do all this work in Jamaica specifically?
AB: A lot of it is Ingrid [Bachelor, an expat he knows that helped set this interview up], but when I went the first time, it was interesting to see how unfortunate they are and yet how happy they were in the school. I wanted to help make things even better, so I wanted to do what I could this summer.
BF: What's the status of the court that you're helping to get built?
AB: I don't know at this point - it's tough to tell when you're not there.
BF: Right. I know you also went to some camps to talk to kids out there. What was the message you were trying to send to them?
AB: Just stay positive and don't worry. If you keep working hard, anything is possible.
BF: You were in Miami this summer training. Why did you decide to choose Miami?
AB: My aunt is out there, and they have great people to help work on my shoulder. They have great people to work out with, and it's a great city to hang around in work out with. It's one of the most beautiful places on earth.
BF: I understand you worked out with Jamal Mashburn's old trainer. What kind of stuff did you do?
AB: We did a lot of work to get me bigger and get stronger. I did a lot of core work, and he helped with my vertical and all kinds of stuff. He's an all-around trainer, and he's really good. He actually is really good at helping with shoulder stuff.
BF: Who else does he work with? Who else did you work with?
AB: We had a camp out there, with guys like Jarret Jack, Brandon Rush, Dorsey from Houston [Joey Dorsey], James Posey, Juwan Howard. Chris Bosh also came by.
BF: What would you say is the big thing that you tried to work on with your training this summer?
AB: Getting my shoulder better, and basically just being stronger. Next year, I want to be more aggressive and more physical. So that's what I've wanted to do.
BF: What do you think exactly happened last year? I know you had the foot, but why was that such a tough thing to overcome?
AB: When you break a foot over the summer, it's really tough. Summer is the time when guys get their game together and develop, and I wasn't able to do that. I wasn't able to get to the court. I wasn't able to shoot. I wasn't able to do any of that. So when the season started, that was like, 'Boom.' I didn't touch a ball all summer because of my foot. So when the season came in, I had to get back out there, and that's one of the toughest things ever. It's really tough when you're sitting down, and then you have to come in and push off on your foot to shoot the ball. That really set me back a few months.
BF: I understand you're trying to organize some workouts with your teammates. What's the status of that?
AB: That's tough (chuckles). A lot of guys were going to come in, but then the Vegas thing came up [Impact Basketball League], and a lot of guys went to do that, because most of the guys live in [Los Angeles]. A lot of guys are still in LA, and some of the guys have to come up to D.C. still.
But we're hoping to still do them, probably like every three weeks or so until the season starts. I just want my teammates and us to get a bond and start early. Last year, we were one of the worst teams in the league, and we shouldn't have been. We have great pieces to build around. We have a great point guard, we have great scorers, we have JaVale McGee who is going to block shots and rebound. We have the right pieces. We just have to do it all together.
BF: John Wall's been talking about making the playoffs. What are your goals for the season?
AB: I'm talking playoffs, and I'm talking being an all-star.
Thanks to Andray for taking the time.