The masters are rare, those whose brilliance transcends their peers, and as such, they're given the desired designation as a poet's poet or a comic's comic or, in the case of JaVale McGee, a weirdo's weirdo.
"JaVale McGee, by far, is the goofiest teammate I've had. He's goofiest guy in the NBA," said Nuggets forward Corey Brewer, whose previous interview was interrupted when McGee swatted a microphone and declared, in a hoarse Dikembe Mutombo voice, "Not in my house!"
"He's unpredictable," Brewer continued, "with both what will come out of his mouth and what he'll do in the game. I call him 'The Great Adventure,' because you never know what's going to happen. It's going to be an adventure either way it goes, good or bad."
McGee, a 7-footer who's lanky and loony, says weird things and does weird things and says weird things while doing weird things. On the court, the backup center will complement an aerodynamic alley-oop with a boneheaded goaltend at the other end. The only thing predictable is the unpredictability, which makes some sense when, lounging at his locker on a quiet morning recently, McGee admitted: "I have extreme ADD. They tried to put me on Ritalin, but I wouldn't do it. I just didn't want to take it. I was young (when it was diagnosed); it was a long time ago. But, yeah, it's definitely fun having ADD. It's extremely fun. I'm not boring."
Is McGee mad? He actually enjoys the joy ride that is ADD, now referred to as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), which leads to inattentiveness, over-activity and impulsivity, often in unhealthy doses.
It's bizarre, yes, but that makes him bizarre. And in a league where personas are rehearsed and behavior is choreographed, McGee is resplendently refreshing. He knows he can take the medicine. But what's the fun in being like everyone else?
This is the guy who has an alter ego, whom he named Pierre. This is the guy who threw the ball against the glass, caught his own pass and unleashed a furious dunk — and then, he placed his index finger under his nose, revealing a tiny tattoo of a handlebar mustache. This is a guy who YouTubed his pickup lines, including, "Girl, you know who I am? I play for the Wizards. Oh, that didn't work?" This is the guy who spearheaded the team's "Harlem Shake" video and purchased all of the costumes, including, as the receipt read, the deluxe clown Afro wig, the gingerbread man adult costume and the giant python prop. And this is the guy who, during practice recently, watched a botched Brewer shot hit the backboard near the NBA logo, prompting McGee to scurry toward the glass and exclaim: "Hey, Jerry West, you OK?"
"If you left him in a first-grade class for an hour, who knows what you'd have when you got back? You might have a statue built out of desks and chairs," said Nuggets assistant coach Melvin Hunt. "And if you left him in a class at MIT, who knows?
"He's unique. You look at his physique, he's unique, and guys don't have that combination on the court, nor that combination off the court. He's witty, at the same time he's goofy, at the same time he's smart, at the same time he's silly. He can take you a lot of places."
Or, as teammate Kenneth Faried put it, upon hearing McGee describe his medical condition from across the locker room, "I didn't know you had ADD. I knew something was wrong with you, but I didn't know it was that."