The Poetic and Political Etan Thomas

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Etan Thomas is a restricted free agent this summer and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer unless he signs an extension with the Wizards. And though there may be interest from other teams in signing the rugged center to an offer sheet, Thomas would likely prefer to stay in Washington, where he can roam the poetry bars and participate in anti-death-penalty rallies. Look for Thomas to entertain potential offers only from big city teams, unless of course, someone is willing to drastically overpay him.

Thomas is a poet and a political activist. He has long been a supporter of the anti-death-rally protests against next week's planned execution of Steven Oken by the State of Maryland. According to the Washington Post, Oken is sentenced to die by lethal injection for the rape and murder of Dawn Marie Garvin, and he was also convicted of murdering another woman in Maryland and a hotel clerk in Maine. His appeal to delay the execution was denied yesterday. No one has been executed by the State of Maryland since 1998.

Thomas has written stirring poems against the death penalty, with lines like, "If you play God too long, the real one might get upset." When he recites his poetry to a sympathetic crowd, it often results in animated and supported chanting. Thomas reportedly keeps a pen by his bed for midnight inspiration and has been writing poetry since high school. And he is also passionate about his politics.

What other team on earth could offer him the same kind of exposure to these activities as Washington, D.C.? Perhaps New York, perhaps LA, perhaps Miami, perhaps Boston. But these are all second-place options. No city on earth is at the center of more political intercourse than Washington, D.C. And while he will of course look to maximize his earnings -- if someone is overly anxious to obtain his services and have the cap room to do so, there is a limit to how much the Wizards will pay to match -- he also is probably looking to enjoy his quality of life.

So look for him to not be a likely player in the restricted free agent market.

Juan Dixon will participate in the 9th annual Hoop Dreams Tournament this Saturday, June 12, from noon to 2pm, at the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 20th Street NW. Joining him will be Murriel Page and Chamique Holdsclaw of the Washington Mystics.

Clickhereto see a list of players that have worked out for the Wizards so far.


John N. Mitchell ofThe Washington Post writes: Not long after he settled into his job as president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards, Michael Jordan informally responded to wide-ranging questions about the league and its players. One of the questions Jordan addressed — and this before ending his second retirement to play two seasons in Washington — was the player he would want to have the ball to win a game in the final seconds. "Kobe Bryant, without question," Jordan said in that famous baritone."Definitely Kobe." Bryant, yet to see his 26th birthday, is finally — and, for once, legitimately — giving people reason to say that the NBA has a swingman who truly can be considered the heir apparent to Jordan.

Marc Fisher ofThe Washington Post writes: The lesson of MCI Center is that sports fans will get out of their cars and use Metro -- 62 percent of those attending Wizards and Capitals home games use mass transit.

A letter toThe Socialist Worker Online writes: Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich is devoting his time and energy in the next two weeks to killing Steven Oken. He wants Oken to become the first person executed in Maryland since 1998... In a church basement last week, more than 100 people gathered to hear a dazzling lineup of speakers stand up against death row. Included were the NBA Washington Wizards’ center Etan Thomas, former death row inmates Darby Tillis and Shujaa Graham, state Delegate Salima Marriott, members of Steven Oken's legal team, and Campaign to End the Death Penalty and International Socialist Organization member Michael Stark, among others.

Pete Barber ofThe King George Journal Presswrites: The Washington Wizards wrapped up their 2004 season way back on April 14, and can you believe it, NBA playoff finals are finally underway.If the series goes the full seven games, the final playoff game will be Sunday, June 20. Gads! Can they drag the season out just a little bit longer? At least, the 2004 champions will be home for the July 4 holiday.