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Brendan Haywood
Brendan Haywood
Position: -
Born: 11/27/79
Height: 7-0 / 2.13
Weight:266 lbs. / 120.7 kg.
Earnings: $69,636,185 ($82,374,435*)
Arenas was right. Although the fine slip went to Ernie Grunfeld, the former Wizards president of the basketball operations who had the final say on such matters, no financial punishment was taken. This was not an isolated incident. For the past decade, the Wizards have not always held players accountable, a problem the next president of basketball operations might find difficult to uproot. “When I was there, the culture really wasn’t set,” said Brendan Haywood, who played the first 8½ years of his NBA career in Washington, from 2001-10. “There was never a set place [or] plan of: ‘Listen, this is what we do here. This is how we go about things here,’ that you sometimes see in other organizations.”
Several people with knowledge of the Wizards’ front office said that if a player broke one of the team rules, a fine or suspension would be recommended to Grunfeld, but they said they believe Grunfeld did not approve many of the punishments issued at Arenas while most of the fines directed at other players went through. Even lesser lights received star treatment. Haywood recalled a time when Andray Blatche, who played in Washington from 2005-2012, refused to lift weights. Grunfeld’s solution: deputize the strength coach to force Blatche into the weight room. Haywood, who witnessed this interaction, said such enforcement should be Grunfeld’s job. “I said: ‘That’s where you come in,’” Haywood said. Grunfeld “didn’t like the fact that I said that and kind of thought I was abrasive at the time and didn’t like it.” “[A player] basically gets to do whatever he wants to without any repercussions,” Haywood said of the Wizards. “That’s the culture.”
Brendan Haywood’s rookie year (2001-02) just so happened to be the first of two seasons in Washington for one Michael Jordan. Jordan, well past his prime during this time, still left quite an impression on the rookie, even after all these years later. “You really got to see the myth behind all the greatness. He wasn’t good by accident. You got to see a guy that’s 40 years old still get to the gym at 8 o’clock working on his game.“
That’s a great story. Do you have any others from those first two years that you retell? Brendan Haywood: We came back from a really long road trip, West Coast trip. We had a day off. The veterans didn’t even have to be in. The younger guys had to come in, of course. I think I got in at like 10 [a.m.]. And I got there and I heard a ball bouncing. Mike was on the court, already sweated out. He was finishing his workout. I got there at 10, everyone had an off day, some of the other young guys were getting there. He was finishing his workout. And I was like, “Mike, what are you doing here, man? It’s your day off.” And he was like, “You’re asking the wrong questions. The question is not ‘You’re asking what am I doing here?’ The question is, ‘Why’d I beat you?’” It was little things like that that you always take with you. At 40 years old, he was still the guy who was showing up at 8 o’clock to get his work done and do what he needed to do even though, at that point, he was already known as the most successful player of all time.