It has been quite a week of sports in the Nation's Capital, thanks to the first place Nats beating down the Mets and USA Basketball making a stopover on their way to the 2012 London Olympics. We got to see the best of the best American players face Brazil in both men's and women's basketball at Verizon Center.
It had been a long while since there was an atmosphere for basketball like the one witnessed Monday night.The arena had an electricity that was reminiscent of past Wizard playoff games.
The POTUS and FLOTUS showed up and they even brought Vice President Joe Biden to hang out with them. It was the biggest event this week in a city that loves big events. The first couple even had an unfortunate "Kiss Cam" moment and later got a Presidential pardon of sorts as they made good.
Nothing could ruin the night, not even some lackluster stretches from Team USA, who were bailed out by Lebron James. Yeah, you know him -- the former villian who's now a great guy because he has not 7, but 1 title.
Yep, D.C. fans eased up on The King, giving him fewer boos than normal. It just goes to show you how powerful the initials U-S-A can be in the most powerful city in the world. Although Coach K may disagree -- the D.C. fans weren't nearly as kind to him.
This week's "Chain Reactions" deals with RGIII being ready to take the lead and the Wizards saying goodbye to 7-Day Dray.
RGIII Signs and Ready to Lead
The Redskins have their entire draft class under contract after RGIII and Josh LeReibus (a.k.a. Bluto from Animal House) signed on Wednesday. So now, Redskins Nation can really start to dream big about the upcoming season.
In the past, when the Redskins started a season and the new guy became the leader it was not necessarily a good thing (London Fletcher the honorable exception). It usually was a sign of what was severely lacking on the roster.
Since the Redskins sold the farm for Robert Griffin III, I have amended my thoughts on this topic. In the case of RGIII, it is a must that he takes on that role. He's already been named the starting quarterback by Mike Shanahan and he is clearly the face of the franchise.
RGIII must lead the Skins offense from Day 1, and to his credit he has already started the process.
I know Griffin's just a rookie, however, as Cam Newton and Andy Dalton showed last season, rookie quarterbacks can become leaders in year one.
The Heisman Trophy winner also is clearly not afraid of failure. He seems to have the "it" factor. He seems to embrace pressure and he already has veteran teammates believing in him.
The 'Skins have not had a franchise quarterback since Joe Theismann, and they had better not blow it with RGIII. They need to support him and surround him with talent.
They have an intriguing trio at tight end with Fred Davis, Chris Cooley and Niles Paul. The running back corps is strong with second-year guys Roy Helu and Evan Royster, and hopefully a healthy return is coming for veteran Tim Hightower.
The Offensive Line's ability to gel will be paramount to RGIII's success. They need to pick up where they left off by running the ball and keeping RGIII upright as much as possible.
Mike Shanahan's future success or failure with the Redskins will be tied to RGIII.
How quickly the light turns on for Griffin once the lights are turned on remains to be seen. For Shanahan and the Redskins franchise, the sooner the process starts, the better.
Bye Bye Blatche
The Wizards did the right thing by amnestying Andray Blatche. Sure, it leaves a bitter taste when you are cleaning up your own mess by paying a player $23 million to go away. However, if the team wanted to be taken seriously after they talked about a "cultural change," it was a no-brainer move.
President Ernie Grunfeld tried desperately to deal Blatche, but there were no takers for the 6' 11" forward. So the Wizards were stuck with either keeping him and telling him not to show up to practice or the amnesty option. The keeping made no sense because his value would not increase, and if you play him, that only hurts young players and ticks off fans.
So, amnesty was the only play, and it serves many purposes besides making Andray the most popular guy on "Lap Dance Tuesdays."
It sends a (albeit mixed) message to the players that knuckleheads are no longer wanted, it was a move that had to be made for Randy Wittman's sake, and a move that had to be made for the fans.
In the aftermath of the Blatche amnesty, a Wizards source pointed out that Blatche is not a bad guy and obviously is talented. But the source also pointed out that Blatche clearly got caught up in the NBA lifestyle.
He did stupid things off the court, though with the exception of an arrest for sexual solicitation, none of them were illegal. He also was not mentally tough enough to handle the boos from the Verizon Center faithful, who had tired of his act.
Blatche's departure, along with the in-season deals that sent JaVale McGee to Denver and Nick Young to Los Angeles, mean "The Three Stooges" are all officially out of town. The locker room has been cleansed of any distractions.
Ted Leonsis eating $23 million should clear up any discussion about the owner's committment to spending. Leonsis has also picked up some hefty contracts in the person of Nene, Emeka Okafor, and Trevor Ariza over the last few months.
Leonsis has also been clear that another lottery season is not acceptable, and the buyout of Blatche shows he's not cutting corners financially to do the right thing.
The Wizards have upgraded the roster this offseason. Is there enough talent to get back in the playoff picture? That remains to be seen. John Wall must show serious improvement with his ability to change speeds and finding a go-to shot.
The players around him need to show improvement as well, but if Wall isn't better it will not matter. The No. 1 overall pick has to play like a franchise player or none of this matters.
The good news is that Wall has been working hard this off-season and his new teammates are all hard workers, too. Does that guarantee success? No, but the Wizards finally have more character than characters, which should help the process.