January 4, 2016

Otto Porter Bobblehead

As beginnings to seasons where your team is aspiring for greatness unseen in 35 plus years go, the 2015-2016 NBA season has proved to be a disappointment for my beloved hometown Washington Wizards. 32 games into the current season, the Wizards are sitting out of the playoff picture with a 15-17 record. More glaring than the sub-par record and the gaudy 103.8 points per game surrendered on the defensive end though are the number of games missed by key players. Through the first 32, Gary Neal has missed eight games, Bradley Beal has been absent for 15, Nenê has sat for 17 contests and Drew Gooden's played a paltry 7 (missing 25). The effects have been obvious in recent games, particularly the second quarter of last week's game in Toronto and this past Sunday's safe-to-leave-with-10-minutes-to-go-in-the-fourth-quarter loss at home to the Miami Heat. Ouch!

But in the malaise that has largely dominated the season so far, there has been a real bright spot on the die-hard Wizards collectible front: the release of the season's first bobblehead as the centerpiece of the G Wiz Kids' Club package. This year's honored player is none other than Otto Porter, occupying the spot pioneered two years ago by my former favorite Wizard Martell Webster and filled in admirably by G Wiz last year. It's ironic that I put Otto on my bobblehead shelf (OK...one of my bobblehead shelves) the day I had to turn my Martell bobble to face backwards on the day of his release from the team as is my custom. All-Stars and retired jerseys are exempted from this rule, just to clarify.

Now of course, if you want an Otto Porter bobblehead, you'll have to pony up the $20 (or $18 for season ticket holders - woo hoo!) for a Kids' Club membership. But considering the alternative to get your hands on a giveaway quality Wizards bobblehead is to wait until the release of the John Wall bobblehead on gameday against the Charlotte Hornets on April 10, the $20 feels like it's way worth it. My niece now has three Kids' Club bobbleheads held in trust for her by her favorite uncle on her mother's side. She has no idea how lucky she will be one day.

Otto's bobblehead, which photographs beautifully in front of the large Wizards box used to hold our season ticket holder gym bag gift, is standing holding a basketball and wearing the knee pads Otto frequently wears on court. ALL basketball bobbleheads it seems have to have a ball; the DeShawn Stevenson bobble-hand and G Wiz bobble-belly that I have do not but that's because they are variations on the theme I'm assuming. Otto's bobble is also smiling as bobbleheads have a tendency to do and he's standing on the circular "piece of court" base that the Wizards have commissioned for their bobblehead "giveaways" the past couple of seasons.

As bobbleheads go, Otto is definitely firmly in the "free" quality category. The paintwork is a little sloppy and almost seems rubbed off in some spots (I guess traveling from China in a styrofoam packed box can be rough). I applaud the attempt to duplicate the silver threading on the edge of the numbers but it can't overcome the overall imprecise paint job on the rest of his body. The Wizards certainly didn't request the best craftsmen over there on the other side of the Pacific like they did with the season ticket holder set of bobbleheads a few years back.

One of the things I love to check about bobbleheads is the players' faces. When I first open a new bobblehead my first reaction is they don't look anything like the players they are supposed to represent. Sure, they usually get the facial hair correct and maybe the skin tone comes close but most of these things look like the Wizards just ordered the generic black man head bobblehead and then someone painted the correct number on the jersey. This is not intended to be racially insensitive. I only have one white bobblehead and that's long haired Mike Miller, which I think the Wizards specified with the generic white female tennis player head.

My first reaction to checking out Otto's face was the same as my typical new bobble reaction: "This thing doesn't look anything like Otto." But a closer look reveals that they got the component parts pretty close even though the ensemble really only resembles Otto in a folk art sort of way. They got the side of the mouth smile pretty close, albeit with the lips up at the left of the mouth rather than down. They also got the shape of the eyes correct and the facial hair spot on, although as I've previously pointed out, that one's sort of a gimme. The eyebrows and nose also look pretty good and the hairline is almost perfect, although admittedly it appears to be the exact mirror opposite of Otto's actual hair line.

Overall, I think Otto's a pretty good choice here. Otto may have the highest participation for a player at Kids' Club events, even dressing up for halloween this year in his third season on the team. And as a guy firmly deserving of a starting spot this year, it's an appropriate time to release a bobblehead in his honor, even if it did cost $20. Sorry, $18. I can't wait until April 4. Just three months until the next Wizards bobblehead. I hope I can last that long.

Gotta have the gold championship tag on the back. The paintwork on Otto leaves a lot to be desired.

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