John Wall Can Rebuild What Rod Strickland Tore Down — Strickland’s Reputation
In all my years of typing, few athletes have given me as many giggles as Rod Strickland. While I was away wiping baby butt, Rod continued making his own mess.
Washingtonians have any number of reasons to despise him. This is the player, remember, who Wes Unseld gave up Rasheed Wallace to get here. He's also the guy who mourned our nation on the night of September 11, 2001, by partying at the TGIFriday's in Bowie with Chico DeBarge and whupping ass on a waitress from the nearby Applebee's outlet in the parking lot. No, really. (Full disclosure: Washington City Paper is currently owned by the same folks who own another rival fern bar chain, Bennigan's. No, really.)
A while back in this space I expressed awe that Strickland, what with his reputation and police record, would even be allowed anywhere on a college campus, much less on the bench of a major program, where he was hailed as a mentor to impressionable youth. But that's what John Calipari had done at both Memphis and Kentucky.
And as I pointed out in a Slate.com podcast recorded during the NCAA tournament and during my just-ended paternity leave, Rod went on to get three more DUI arrests than playoff wins as a Washington Bullet. Days after that 'cast, Rod made me look like I knew from what I spoke by getting popped again for the same ol', same 'ol. Career stats, as of 1 p.m. today: DUI Arrests 4, Playoff Wins in DC 0. (Full disclosure: The Slate.com podcast was hosted by my friend and the future of sports journalism, Josh Levin.)
At the time, Strickland was being talked up as the potential next head coach of his alma mater, DePaul University. Instead, Strickland just got booted off Calipari's bench as payback for his latest drink n' drive.
But for all his shenanigans along the way from DePaul to DeBarge, Strickland still has his supporters: John Wall, for instance. The future top Wizards pick came out during the post-draft blitz and constantly credited Strickland with making him a player worthy of a lottery pick. Strickland had likewise mentored the last two NBA rookies of the year, Derek Rose and Tyreke Evans, both from Memphis during the Calipari/Strickland era.
So, if Wall lives up to his Can't Miss Kid status after he gets here, perhaps we'll have to take away some of the demerits Strickland earned in his years as a Bullets bad boy.
But MADD and the Applebee's wait staff can't be the only ones hoping Strick ain't the one charged with counseling Wall how to act off the court. Or what music to listen to.
Seriously: Chico DeBarge?