For nearly a decade, a head-banded enigma roamed the NBA hardwood and tormented the District of Columbia with ill-advised, fadeaway jump shots and missed layups. Not since Albert Haynesworth has our nation’s capitol seen such malcontent and irreverence in a sports arena. There are questions in life that transcend the annals of history and bring about a certain degree of speculation that can boggle the mind of even the most astute of individuals. “What ever happened to Andray Blatche?” is one of those questions.
It is one of the most pressing mysteries of our generation — on par with “Who killed Jimmy Hoffa?” and “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” However, the Schmozone investigative team did some thorough research that included the hacking of international computers, an interview request with Gilbert Arenas, and visits to every local YMCA on the East Coast. Our interview request with Gilbert was shot down (pun intended) and our visits to local YMCAs came up empty. It led me to the conclusion that Andray Blatche has simply vanished without a trace.
Andray Blatche could have been great and showed flashes of his potential greatness. He had the tools and he had the size. He had a surprisingly strong mid-range jumper for a 6’11, 260 lb. power forward, impressive ball-handling skills, and a knack to gather in boards like a grizzly bear gathers berries (Do bears gather berries or am I making that up?).
Blatche was the 49th overall pick out of high school in the 2005 NBA draft despite being projected to be taken in the first round. He spent seven tumultuous seasons with the Washington Wizards which seemed more like seven decades and two more seasons with the Brooklyn Nets before disappearing into the abyss that is post-NBA life. The supremely talented, five-star recruit was considered to be the No. 4 player in the nation in 2005 out of high school and had the make-up of a potential force in the NBA.
The thing about Andray Blatche though was that he possibly cared less about playing basketball than any player in the history of the sport. His go-to was to demand the basketball and then air-ball a fadeaway jumper with a hand in his face. He was that guy you play with at the gym who’s “always feeling it.” The hardest he ever tried was when he was going for a triple-double with his team up 10 points with 32 seconds left in a game vs the Nets:
Ricky Davis scoffs at Andray Blatche’s triple-double attempt.
Looking back at the Washington Wizards of the late 2000s, I’m impressed that this team even managed to take the court for 82 games a season. The fact that this team existed without the world exploding is an incredible accomplishment. It’s amazing that it wasn’t until 2010 that somebody in the locker room nearly got shot! Blatche, Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson, Nick Young, Josh Howard Jarvaris Crittenton, JAVALE MCGEE! HOW DID THIS TEAM EVEN FUNCTION? Can you imagine what practices were like? In the 2008-09 season, the Wizards went 18-53. The interim head coach was somebody named Ed Tapscott. This poor, poor man was thrown to wolves and never seen again.
Here’s Blatche’s career with the Wizards in one highlight:
The year after Gilbert Arenas and Jarvaris Crittenton nearly shot each other in the locker room, the Wizards rewarded Blatche with a five-year, $35 million contract for being the best offensive player on an awful team. He responded by having the best year of his career with averages of 16.8 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game. Maybe it was a sign of things to come.
A year later, he was benched indefinitely by the Wizards for “lack of conditioning” and waived in the off-season. He ripped the Wizards organization for making him out to seem like a bad guy and a “locker room cancer.” In his defense, I doubt Blatche was the biggest issue with the Wizards locker room during his tenure considering Gilbert Arenas existed and Jarvaris Crittenton actually murdered somebody later.
The Nets then took a chance on him and he once again showed flashes of greatness by averaging 18.8 points per game and eight rebounds per game while Brook Lopez was injured. Amid a chorus of boos, Blatche tormented his former team in his first game back in Washington D.C. with a double-double in only 19 minutes.
In 2014, Blatche opted out of his contract with the Nets and simply disappeared into the abyss. Only 27 years old and coming off two productive (and well-behaved) seasons off the bench with the Nets, his disappearance from the NBA came as a surprise. What ever happened to Andray Blatche?
After months of investigation, I decided to type “Andray Blatche” into Google. I’ve always said that you can learn more about anybody by just typing their name into Google and looking at the “people also search for” section. This is advice I should have heeded originally. Wedged in between pictures of Javale McGee and Emeka Okafor was the name Chot Reyes who happens to be a legendary basketball coach in the Philippines. He was the coach of the Philippines’ national basketball team as well as the Talk n’ Text Tropang Texters which is possibly the greatest team name that has ever existed.
This was the first clue. Unbeknownst to the entire population of the world, Andray Blatche is half-Filipino (or so he claims). A native of Syracuse, New York, Andray Blatche had never even been to the Philippines before venturing there in 2014. Nets guard Joe Johnson probably had the best response on whether he knew Andray was half-Filipino:
Blatche was asked by the Phillipines’ national basketball team to take part as a naturalized player for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. In June of 2014, Blatche had become a citizen of the Philippines after the Senate approved a bill granting his citizenship (I guess it’s really that easy). He led the Philippines to their first World Cup win in 40 years with a victory over Senegal which must have brought the country immense satisfaction knowing that they needed the help of a naturalized citizen who probably couldn’t even locate their country on a map to get their first FIBA World Cup victory. Shockingly, he was disqualified from the 2014 Asian games due to “eligibility issues” which I took the liberty of translating into “not being Asian.”
Now, Blatche is apparently the Wilt Chamberlain of the Chinese Basketball Association. A member of the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, Blatche signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the club (which is an unheard of amount for the CBA) after averaging 31 points per game, 16 rebounds per game, and five assists per game. He’s even passing now! It appears Blatche has no intention of returning to the NBA anytime soon and why would he when he’s making millions of dollars in China and enjoying the super stardom that escaped him while in the NBA. Here he is Wilt Chamberlaining the CBA:
You know what? Good for Andray Blatche. I’m happy for him. He seems to have put his past issues behind him while in the NBA and found his love for the game with the Flying Tigers. Regardless of what happened during his time in the NBA, he will go down as one of the greatest half-Filipino players in NBA history, at least until they decide to try and naturalize Javale McGee.