If you don’t know why former Washington Wizards center Andray Blatche was released via the Amnesty clause in July, I advise you to read the 12 most memorable Blatche moments via the Washington Post.
Here are a few of those: Blatche was once labeled “conditioning” in a Wizards box score, he told reporters he lost some weight by getting a hair cut, and he changed his number during one Summer League after having played in the NBA for four years.
This is a guy who was publicly booed by his own fans because he called out the organization in a hypocritical manner. Right now, Blatche is in need of an image change, and it appears he’s taken the first steps toward making that transformation.
Going back to his hometown of Syracuse recently, Blatche held his fourth annual Andray Blatche Foundation day. Many kids and spectators turned out for the event, and according to Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com, Blatche was there to give back to the community he grew up in.
However, it doesn’t stop with just giving back to the community, Blatche is also in the process of working on his image as a player, as he seeks employment from a new NBA team. Ditota writes that former San Antonio Spurs player and head coach John Lucas has taken Blatche under his wing and is working with the 25-year old big man to improve his traits both on and off the court.
A few years ago, Lucas started a program called the “Athletes After Care Program” where he helps struggling athletes and others with mainly drug and addiction problems, but also mentors others as a "life coach." He's put Blatche on a training program since May and it seems to be working.
Blatche bought a condominium in Houston, where he has lived since May. Lucas instituted a regimen of yoga, weights and basketball for Blatche to trim what was once a soft 282 pounds into the firmer, trimmer 268 he weighs today.
For Blatche, his biggest struggle was the levels of immaturity to which he displayed during his tenure with the Wizards. Lucas might be the answer, but he himself sees being amnestied by the Wizards as a blessing in disguise.
“It was very tough,” Blatche said Friday. “It seemed like the Wizards had a string of bad luck with the gun situation and so on. Me getting amnesty this year wasn’t more of a hurt to me, it was more of a blessing to me. I’m looking at that as giving me a chance to go somewhere else and revive my career and become the player I used to be.”
The Spurs and Miami Heat are two teams rumored to be interested in Blatche, as both have veteran squads with winning track records. I’ve already discussed in the past how San Antonio would be a better option for Blatche to stay low-key, because of their very quiet presence in the media, where as in Miami the Heat are being watched for their every move.
For Blatche, he's excited to take a job with any new NBA team, including the Spurs, Heat, or even in the D-League according to Ditota.
“My dream destination right now would be back on the court. For real. Just to get back on the court,” he said. “It’s something I love to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Heat or the Spurs or the D League. Whatever. As long as I’m back on the court playing ball.
You don’t find many 6’11” big men who are still young and have untapped potential out on the free agent market everyday. Right now, Blatche is in a special situation. When you consider the move the Los Angeles Lakers made in trading for Dwight Howard, Blatche has every opportunity to make the change in himself to better his future and possibly join a winning organization and culture.
Will the transformation of Blatche really happen? Only Blatche possesses the answer to that question. As of right now, Lucas says Blatche is doing what he must to repair his damaged image.
“He’s shown the commitment to get in much better shape and the humility that comes with being amnestied,” Lucas said. “Some team will give him a chance. But nobody will take your word for it. You have to prove yourself.”