Question: what do you do when, after three years of almost exclusively sitting on the bench for a mediocre NBA team — and looking good only very occasionally in garbage-time, regular-season games against the likes of bad teams such as Seattle and New Orleans — your team decides to offer you, a mere 20 year old, $12.5 million over five years?
The answer is easy: you run out to Thomas Circle in Northwest DC and you proposition an undercover policewoman from the anti-prostitution squad. And not only do you do this, but you make sure to do it before you actually sign the deal, so that your GM can suddenly stop answering your agent’s calls while he decides exactly how much to knock off the offer he made you the day before.
Only in the NBA does a kid with exactly six double-digit scoring games under his belt and an outstanding arrest warrant get offered $12.5 million. But that’s what happened this past week to promising but troubled Washington Wizards forward Andray Blatche, the latest in a long line of lanky young ballers to carry the mantle of the “next KG.” A 6-11 string-bean with a silky J and no D whatsoever, Blatche averaged 3.7 points per game this past year — less than two baskets a game.
Blatche’s career has been marked by a couple of ugly incidents: he was shot in an apparent carjacking prior to his rookie season, and he was also arrested for driving without a license in October 2006. Blatche could get 90 days in jail and a $500 fine — maybe Wiz GM Ernie Grunfeld will take that out of his deal — and, as punishment, he may also have to go through a one-day “John course,” basically a sensitivity seminar about the evils of prostitution.
As of press time, however, an unconfirmed report out of Syracuse was claiming that Blatche wasn’t booked on solicitation charges, but for an outstanding warrant on his driving-without-a-license charge. A friend who was with him at the time of the arrest was the one arrested for attempted hooker loving, Blatche told a local Syracuse TV station. The Wizards haven’t commented on this latest development, and previous reports of his arrest were confirmed by police spokespersons, so who knows how this will turn out? Blatche is due in court on August 31.
In any case, it’s worth noting that solicitation busts are common in pro sports. The rule of thumb — or whatever part of the body is a more appropriate substitution in this case — seems to be that solicitation charges result in firings for assistant coaches, mild fines or suspensions for scrub players, and slaps on the wrist or no punishment at all for head coaches and/or good players. Former fullback and Bill Parcells favorite Richie Anderson was fired from an assistant-coaching gig by the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year for soliciting a hooker. On the other hand, the Atlanta Falcons were hours away from the Super Bowl some years back when safety Eugene Robinson celebrated his receipt of the annual “Bart Starr Award” (given by the religious group Athletes in Action to the athlete who shows “high moral character”) by going out and offering an undercover cop 40 bucks for a blowjob. No suspension ensued, and Robinson was eventually burned in the big game by Rod Smith for an 80-yard TD (two yards for each dollar offered by the cheapskate hypocrite).
Oddly enough, solicitation seems to be a predominantly baseball-related offense. From the numerous solicitation beefs associated with the old Mets (Darryl Strawberry was still getting busted for this as late as age 39) to Denny Neagle and Expos hurler Bryn Smith (embarrassingly caught, along with 115 others, in a police sweep of johns in West Palm Beach), baseball players have repeatedly shown that there’s more to regular-season nightlife than cocaine, greenies, and dubious muscle milkshakes.
No word yet on Blatche’s new deal, and give him three points on the crime scale. After all, he never even got very far.
Long horns, short IQs
Bad news for the Texas Longhorns, who this week saw freshman defensive tackle Andre Jones busted for being the muscle in what sounds like a Keystone Kops home invasion.
According to police, Jones and former Longhorn safety Robert Joseph burst into an apartment not far from campus and threatened to kill the occupants, including a 14-year-old boy. Witnesses claimed that Joseph pointed a gun at the youngster, while Jones acted as if he were reaching for a gun. The pair allegedly stole cash, cell phones, and a video-game console, then fled and — get this — got into one of their own cars. A witness scratched out a partial plate number and the pair was busted.
Jones was highly touted, but not that highly touted. He’s been suspended indefinitely and both he and Joseph are likely to face serious charges.
When he’s not googling “sliding solicitation scale” and “Bevo break-ins,” Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone. He can be reached atM_Taibbi@yahoo.com.