February 2, 2015

It's A Bird! It's A Plane!

This past Saturday night, the Washington Wizards hosted the Toronto Raptors for the first and only time this season (barring a playoff meeting, which is not out of the realm of possibility) at Verizon Center. The Wizards lost a laugher earlier in the season in Toronto, a game which I was unfortunate enough to select as one of my road games this year, so I was hoping our guys were looking to get some payback at home. The Raptors don't look quite as ferocious now as they did in early to mid-November so it seemed like the time might be right for the Wizards to assert control over second place in the conference.

Saturday night's game was important on two fronts. First, there are only three games this year against Toronto and head-to-head record could be an important determinant in playoff seedings at the end of the season. Losing Saturday's matchup would guarantee the Raptors winning the season series. Second, the Wizards have been winning against every team in the Eastern Conference except two: the Atlanta Hawks and, you guessed it, the Raptors. There have been questions about the Wizards' ability to beat good teams all year. A win against Toronto might squash some of that talk. Some.

After a slow start for the home squad; some hot shooting from the Raptors (there was so much junk that seemed to go through the net for Toronto); a miserable first half defensively; some questionable calls from the officials; more questionable calls from the officials; and a last minute Wizards comeback where they outscored Toronto by 16 in the final period, the game ended regulation tied at 109. And then overtime hit. And for the second straight game, the Wizards succumbed at home to a good team in the extra session, only managing seven points to the Raptors' 11. Season series lost just like that and now a full two games back of Toronto for the two spot in the East.

Saturday's game was a missed opportunity. I truly believe the Wizards can beat the Raptors. They have one more shot just before the All-Star break to prove me right. Saturday's game was also Marcin Gortat Action Figure day, the only game worth attending from a giveaway standpoint after the season opener. And so I think that deserves a few paragraphs on this blog. I've been vocal in my criticism of the Wizards organization for declining to put a bobblehead on the freebie schedule this year (see here, here and here). Bobbleheads are without question the top shelf item in the giveaway universe, although admittedly, I'd never been handed an action figure on the way through the F Street entrance of Verizon Center. Please don't let this one be a missed giveaway opportunity, Wizards.

Marcin Gortat was the Wizards' premiere off-season free agent re-signing after the 2013-2014 campaign. Marcin came over to the team in a deal with the Phoenix Suns just before the start of the 2013-2014 season. Essentially we traded Emeka Okafor's bad back and our 2014 first round draft pick for the right to rent Marcin for a year and hope we could convince him to stay. We did. For five years. We'll see how that's working out a few years from now.

This year has definitely been an up and down year for Marcin. If there's one thing that's been consistent about his game this year, it's been the inconsistency. His scoring and rebounding averages are down from last year but he can take over games on the offense end for plays at a time with the pick and roll; he's just unstoppable sometimes. And then he also has games like he did Saturday, when he had two of almost everything (points, rebounds, assists, blocks, personal fouls and steals) except turnovers (he had four). Oh, and he didn't play at all in the fourth quarter. Not such a good night when they are giving away a doll of you dressed in super hero garb.

So the question about the giveaway is which is better: action figure or bobblehead? I own more than 30 bobbleheads and, after Saturday's game, just one action figure. Bobbleheads are the tried and true giveaway in varying degrees of actual resemblance to the player they are supposed to be; action figures have way more movable parts, and more closely resemble an actual person because the head isn't grossly oversized. But let's be honest, neither the bobblehead nor the action figure serves any useful purpose in this world. They just sit on a shelf in my condo doing nothing except looking like a collection. Well, the bobbleheads do anyway. The action figure is solitary. I'll give the nod to the bobbleheads and state once again, I'd rather have a Gortat bobblehead than an action figure.

So now that's out of the way, let's take a closer look at the action figure. Generally speaking, the figure looks like Marcin Gortat or at least Marcin playing Lex Luthor. OK, so the physique is a little idealized but that's generally the case with action figures anyway. Until today, I was upset about the lack of mohawk on his head but since he just shaved it today, I guess I don't get to be too ticked off about that after all. He's made his head look like his action figure. How strange is that?

I think the Wizards uniform/super hero costume he's wearing looks OK. I mean it looks like a Wizards uniform, although I could quibble about the monument ball on the back of the uniform below the neck; this year the team moved that to the waistband of the shorts after the league decided to move the NBA logo to the back of the unis league wide. Paving the way for advertisements on jerseys soon, if you care and/or didn't know. Marcin's legs and arms move at the shoulder and hip respectively which is standard for an action figure but his head doesn't swivel which I think is unusual.

Now I realize there are no other Wizards action figures and I also realize that it was free, so what I'm about to say is maybe a little petty, but keeping in mind I'm still upset about the whole lack of bobblehead giveaways this year, I'm saying it anyway. Would it have killed the Wizards to have some action figure accessories here? All good action figures come with a gun or something to hold, right?

Check out the picture of Gortat with Lando Calrissian (the best Star Wars Character EVER) and Lobot (just because Lobot doesn't get a whole lot of air time) above. Both characters came with weapons so they can shoot stormtroopers and other sorts of space villains; I may not have the right gun with the right figure (all my Star Wars figures weapons are just piled into one spot with no chain of custody information available any more) but that's sort of the point, right? You can mix and match accessories with figures to create all sorts of different scenarios. Of course, I've already pointed out there are no other Wizards action figures so

I can think of some pretty good accessories for the Marcin Gortat action figure. There are the obvious ones like a basketball or a bottle of Gatorade or something and some more obscure ones like a (borrowed) pet pig that Gortat showed up with this summer on Instagram but at the very least, you would have thought they could have set him up with a Polish Hammer, right? That would have been hilarious. Of course, Gortat's fists are clenched, so he couldn't hold one anyway. 

I'm not calling this giveaway a missed opportunity. I'm keeping it on my shelf in it's original packaging (isn't that what you are supposed to do?) but I'm still hung up on the whole hammer thing. It's the small things in life. I'm offering the Wizards my services free of charge to enhance next year's giveaways if they want it; just expect plenty of bobblehead recommendations to come out of that assignment.

Lando Calrissian can hold a gun. Marcin Gortat cannot.

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