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A Christmas Tale: How Andray Blatche turned from bad to baaaaad ... with some help from two coaches

The BIG experiment begins on Christmas. How one part got the help he needed.

Bruce Bennett

Jeff Caplan of writes on Christmas day about how one NBA player redeemed himself and started anew, two themes of the day. It's become an oft-told tale of how Andray Blatche turned the embarrassment of riches that was amnesty into the respect of his coaches, teammates and fans, no easy task.. Caplan focuses on all that but also writes of how two coaches, John Lucas and Avery Johnson, saw something in him and helped him on his path.

Caplan writes of how Blatche met Lucas at the end of last season, expecting to be amnestied and wanting the coach famous for his rehab efforts to help help him. "We had a meeting," said Blatche of Lucas. "And he talked to me and said, ‘listen, I’ve been where you’re at right now.’ Basically that I can help you, get your body back right, and get your game tuned up to get you back playing. I believed him basically."

But it was Johnson who after a workout and conversation with Blatche, recommended the Nets sign him to a non-guaranteed deal that's still not guaranteed. Johnson raves about how attentive and responsible Blatche is.

"I will say off the court, I’m pleased because the reputation that he came in here with, I haven’t seen it," Johnson said. "I told him when I signed him that it was going to be a clean slate. I gave him about 10 or 12 different things that we need to focus on and what’s important to me, and he hasn’t broken one rule. He’s been early, he eats right, he works out hard, so I don’t anticipate having any problems with Blatche because he wants to be good, he wants to be coached."

And so far, he has been.