Brooklyn Nets forward Andray Blaltche has moved on. He just wishes the fans in Washington would do the same.
“Let it go, I’m gone. I want to stay gone,” Blatche said about 90 minutes before facing the Wizards for the first time since they waived him last summer via the NBA’s amnesty clause.
“Just leave me alone.”
Blatche said he fully expects to be booed when he comes off the bench at Verizon Center, an arena he called home for seven seasons.
“They’ll react the same way when I was here,” he said. “Only difference now is I don’t play for them anymore so I expect it. It’s not going to affect me ‘cause you’re supposed to boo me.”
Now, yes. But Blatche heard his share of boos when he played for the Wizards last season, when coach Randy Wittman finally shut him down for lack of conditioning on March 20, forcing Blatche to sit out the remainder of the season.
“Performing up to your skill level, that’s what it’s all about,” Wittman said. “When you’re hurt or out of shape it’s hard to play at this level.”
Since signing with the Nets Blatche has played in all 32 games, averaging 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds while averaging 20 minutes a game.
“I’m a lot more happy,” he said. “I’m on a great team with a bunch of great guys competing for the playoffs and a championship. We have a lot of goals. Definitely when you win it’s always fun.”
Blatche stirred that same pot earlier this season when he asked reporters in Brooklyn, “Anybody seen how the Wizards are doing?” The Wizards were 0-12 at the time and the Nets were in first place, prompting Blatche to tweet “Feels good to be part of a winning organization.”
Blatche’s comments sparked a firestorm of criticism from Wizards fans and the following day he went on 106.7 The Fan to defend himself.
He did the same Friday night.
“They hadn’t won yet and I was going to chapel and I was gonna pray for them,” Blatche said with a laugh.
Wittman said he doesn’t regret his tough love on Blatche and wants nothing but the best for the 26-year-old.
“I’m not rooting against anybody, trust me,” Wittman said. “I like him. I liked him when I was an assistant and when I was coaching.
“But the coach has to do the right thing and that’s all I was trying to do. It’s never personal. We all wan to win. I try to make you a better player, a better person, a better teammate, to make the team better, that’s it.”
Blatche said he actually wants to hear the boos from the Washington crowd, but still wonders what all the fuss is about surrounding his return.
“I just feel like they need to let it go, man, I’m gone,” he said. “I want to be gone and I’m gone and you’re still not happy I’m gone. You wanted me out of here, I’m gone. What else did y’all want? It’s crazy.”