Some feelings were hurt after Nene's comments after the Wizards' loss to the San Antonio Spurs, when the 7-footer complained about young players -- strongly implying the starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal -- needing to play smarter, better and feed the low post.
So coach Randy Wittman called a meeting with the players who felt tweaked by the remarks, along with Nene, to clear the air before practice Friday at Verizon Center. He took exception to Nene's remarks, and the player tried to walk back his criticism of his teammates after a 2-6 start. The Wizards play vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers at Verizon Center on Saturday (CSN, 7 p.m. ET).
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"Everybody gets frustrated. I wish it was that simple, young guys, old guys," said Wittman. "It's all our faults. It's not young guys' fault. It's not the old guys' fault. The coaches' fault. It's all of us. We got to have players play better. That's the bottom line. It's not about pointing fingers. I wish it was that simple. If that was the one solution then I could fix it pretty quickly. That happens. It's unfortunate. They talked it through and understand that was a frustration thing."
Nene called his moment after that 92-79 defeat, the Wizards' third in a row on the road, a "weakness."
"I was in a frustration moment," Nene said. "We just need to play hard, the right way, and everything's going to be fine. We know we can do much much better than we played the last games. Sometimes you need to calm down yourself, having patience with the circumstance but at the end of the day it's my family. It's my teammates. We go to the war together. We need to grab each other's hands and be together. That's what we can do. ... Nobody outside is going to (help) bond us. ...
"Now, we're going to change our attitude. Talk less. Do more. That's what we need to do. ... That's one thing I need to observe in myself. Sometimes when you talk a lot, you bite your tongue."
Al Harrington, in his 16th season, didn't agree with how Nene voiced his discontent.
"Those type of comments can destroy a team. Let's just start there, especially when they feel like they're not warranted," he said. "I'm happy that he was man enough to come in and talk to the guys that took exception to it and hopefully we can move on. We can't allow things like that to creep into our locker room because we're really not going to win any games. Hopefully guys accepted his apology and they're ready to move on.
"This team is under a lot of pressure. We want to win. Guys said playoffs. When you're 2-6, that's not playoffs. Of course guys are going to feel taken aback a little bit and become defensive. The thing about it is that we can't do it with one man. We got to do it as a team. Instead of being negative we got to be more positive with each other and be more of a brotherhood. That's the only way we're going to get through this. ...We go over film everyday and coach gives a forum and open the floor to every player. If they got something to say that's the time to say it. I just think Nene made a mistake."
Wall never took what Nene said too seriously. He knew where he was coming from, even if the words didn't come out in the best light.
"We all respect and understood he didn't really mean what he said. It was just out of frustration. The way we fought our way back into a lot of games and was close to winning, we just didn't' play as a team," Wall said. "Started playing one-on-one, one-shot passing. You can't do that. ... There's certain things that happen when you're frustrated. … It's great to have an opportunity to talk about it. We know if we have a problem with anything we talk about it as a team in our locker room and keep it that way."