December 29, 2013

Two Nenês

Last night, the Washington Wizards played their final home game of 2013, an impressive 106-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons. With that win in the books, the Wizards ended calendar year 2013 a more than respectable 26-13 at home. Not too shabby at all. That sort of mark almost looks like a playoff team's home record, although this season at Verizon Center has proved less successful than the last three and half months of the 2012-2013 season.

Last night's win also snapped a seven game losing streak to the Pistons dating back two plus years. Detroit manhandled the Wizards in the season opener this year so the dominance the Wizards demonstrated last night was extremely gratifying. Not even Will Bynum, who always seems to kill the Wizards, could save the Pistons yesterday. Before last night, I was starting to wonder if we would ever beat this team. We'll see if we can do the same thing tomorrow night in Auburn Hills in the third game of this season's series.

The stampede for bobbleheads after the gates opened.
While what happened on the court was encouraging for this season's continued success, last night was the one and only bobblehead giveaway during the 2013-2014 season so you can bet I was at Verizon Center early last night so there was no chance I would miss this giveaway. Now I have not one, but two, Nenê bobbleheads, on my bobblehead shelf (OK, shelves) after acquiring the first in last year's season ticket holder gift starting five bobblehead set. They are different, and they both have their own separate merits. Let's take a deeper look, because honestly I have nothing better to do on a rainy Sunday morning.

If last season's Nenê bobblehead (on the right in the picture above) is the angry dunking Nenê we've seen with regularity on the court this year, last night's bobblehead is the kinder, gentler smiling Nenê. Both bobbles fit his personality well. If you watch the Wizards regularly, Nenê smiles all too often on the court, almost constantly except when dunking angrily or complaining about the fouls that rarely get called on his defender (what's up with that?).

As far as craftsmanship goes, the smiling Nenê definitely got manufactured and painted by the Chinese workers assigned to produce free-to-the-general-public bobbleheads. There's absolutely no comparison between the two. The paint work on the base and head of last night's bobble is a little sloppy and the hair looks like a bunch of limp spaghetti rather than Nenê's actual hair. The shorts and jersey are also missing the NBA logo, which I suppose is a level of detail that just won't fly for free, and there's a strange shiny finish on Nenê's body, as if he's sweating profusely or somehow lacquered. The season ticket holder bobbleheads from last year eclipse all other bobbleheads in my collection from a quality perspective. I'm not sure that's ever going to change.

There are some nice details on the new Nenê bobblehead, however. I love the elbow pad on his left arm to match the one he wears every game. That's the first shooting sleeve or elbow pad on any bobblehead I own, despite the fact that a ton of guys use these things. I also love the lack of stripe on this season's jersey which allows the number to be seen clearly. Huge improvement there.

And while the back of his jersey doesn't feature the monument ball logo just below the neckline like a real jersey (and last season's Nenê bobblehead), the new bobble does have the circumflex above the second "e" in his name on both the jersey and base of the bobblehead. This is a detail that was missed in last season's starting five set, so it's nice to see that error get corrected this season.

I'm adding the new Nenê proudly to my bobblehead shelf this morning. There's no ceremony or anything associated with this which I know might sound surprising. I'm happy to add bobblehead number 30 to my collection. I'm hoping for more than one in the giveaway schedule next year.

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