All Eyez On Me

Mascots.  Every NBA team has one.  In fact a lot of teams have two.  They range from the fun and loveable to the pointless and forgettable.  Houston has a bear called Clutch.  The Kings have a lion named Samson.  There's Blaze the Trail Cat, Rumble the Bison and Rocky the Mountain Lion.  And then there is Benny the Bull getting in fights with Robin Lopez:

But honestly Robin Lopez fought every mascot in the league.  I'll give you a Lopez vs Mascots clip later.  That's not why we're here.  This is about my favourite NBA mascots ever: the Washington Wizards.  I'm not talking about G-Wiz and G-Man:

 

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Well... maybe I am.  I just can't decide which one is John Wall and which one is Bradley Beal.  I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Beal is G-Man.  He's playing like a super hero.  3s and steals and 3s and steals.  He is a force.  So I guess that means John Wall is G-Wiz.  It appears as though his sole purpose is to entertain us.  He has always come across as more of an entertainer than a competitor.  It has been this way since his official introduction as a Kentucky Wildcat: 

Probably the most blatant example was his jumping on the scorer's table after winning Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against Boston last year.  You read that right.  Eastern Conference semis.  And it was Game 6.  And they lost Game 7 in Boston.

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I'm all for exuberance, but have a little self-respect John Wall.  Maybe win the series before you go all in like that.  That seems to be his M.O.  He feels the moment and he has to get all he can out of it as if he may never get it again.  He needs to be the center of attention.  It's All Eyez On Me.  I love that in my 2Pac, I don't need it in a hooper.  I need a guy that's ride or die for the win, not ride or die for the spotlight.  He needs validation.  He doesn't appear to be as concerned with winning as he is focused on creating and maximizing these little moments.  Like this one:

He cares less about the 2 points, he cares less about the dunk, than he cares about the opportunity to yell "This is my city!"  He senses the moment, All Eyez On Me, the source of his motivation and the conduit to his satisfaction.  Anything to get the fans to "look at me!"  He's basically the beer baron with a new hat at this point:

Bradley Beal has a little bit of "look at me" in him as well.  Some kind of inferiority complex going on with that team.  Beal seems more concerned with being seen eating popcorn than he is about fouling out of the game.

To be fair, the Wizards stars have been balling out so far in this series, more so at home than on the road.  Wall has averaged 26 points, 3.5 rebounds and 12 assists on 40% shooting with plus/minus of minus 13 on the road.  At home he is averaging 27.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 14 assists and 4 steals on 47% shooting and is plus 21.

Beal has put up 14 points, 2 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 39% shooting with a minus 44 on the road.  At home he has averaged 29.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.5 steals on 53% shooting and is a plus 24.  

The Raptors won both of their home games and the Wizards held serve in Washington.  They say a series doesn't start until a road team gets a win and that may be the case in this series.  That's exactly why it was so important that the Raptors earned the #1 seed in the East.  They have home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs and the are probably going to need it.  So far the bench army that is the Toronto Raptors backbone and strongest asset has not travelled well.  As with most benches, these guys perform much better at home.  It looks like it's going to be a long tough series and the pendulum has swung with the geography.

 The eye test might tell you that the swag of these Wizards have the edge, but sometimes what you see is not what you get.  If Washington would just take care of business without looking so desperate to convince the world and themselves of their own merit, I would be concerned for the Raptors.  However I am not.  I am simply enjoying the clown show.  Yes John Wall, my eyes are on you.

And speaking of clown shows, here's Robin Lopez fighting a bunch of mascots:

Tim Caldwell