John Wall was waiting to grab a rebound during warmups before Washington’s game versus Orlando, and his face instantly lit up when he recognized Jay-Z’s voice over the loud speakers: ”Aw man, it is Big Pimpin’ Baby.”
Wall continued to sing verses of the Jay-Z hit single as he filed through the layup line, enticing smiles out of his teammates. John Wall was back where he wanted to be, and the mood of the team was noticeably lifted. This was a different scene than that of the Nick Young/JaVale McGee/Andray Blatche era, where jacking around reigned supreme in warm-ups and a level of seriousness never materialized when it mattered. Wall was chatting up Bradley Beal non-stop and the rookie could not contain his laughter. The future franchise core tossed each other alley-oops—Wall struggled converting some dunks on his “jiggly legs.” Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin followed Wall’s lead with impressive slams of their own. Later during warmups, Wall started playing around with Kevin Seraphin on the left wing, shaking the big man with a crossover. Both cracked up. Wall mocked Seraphin’s inability to stay on his feet.
Wall’s engaging personality is often hidden in the button-downed, risk-averse image he presents in media interviews. Spend any time around Wall and you see the happy-go-lucky attitude is real and genuine. He appears to know every elite basketball player and partakes in many pregame pleasantries with opponents. The Orlando game was no different, as he greeted Magic reserve guard Ish Smith at half court—both hail from North Carolina, and likely know each other from the hoop circuit in the Tar Heel state. As the national anthem approached, Wall’s roommate and best friend, Tyrone (Ty) Williams, came over for their pre-game conversation ritual.
Williams grew up with the dynamic point guard in Raleigh and, although not blood related, Wall call’s him his “brother.” Ty attends almost every home game and sits near the floor. Through Wall’s infamous club appearances (which certain bloggers passive aggressively concern troll), trouble and off-the-court drama has never surfaced in any capacity. This might seem trivial and not worthy of praise, but being a young, rich NBA player makes you a target when you are just doing a simple activity like being out socializing with your circle of friends. This can be difficult waters for famous hoopers to navigate in a world full of hanger-ons and distractions. Williams deserves credit for keeping Wall away from any negative publicity or troublesome situations. (If only Arenas and Blatche had similar peeps.)
D.C. residents cheered when three new escalators opened at the south entrance of the Dupont Circle Metro Station in October 2012. The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) closed the southern entrance for repairs for nearly nine months, but the wait was worth it, in theory. WMATA had decided to strip the entrance and rebuild from scratch this past summer, finally doing away with some of the least reliable escalators in the system.
Construction is a constant in the nation’s capital, but, for one reason or another, it never seems to go according to plan. Just ask any Wizards fan who is still waiting for their team to climb out of the gutter.
Supporters of D.C.’s pro basketball team have suffered through nearly 200 losses and some of the worst basketball the Association has ever seen for almost five seasons now. We all know about owner Ted Leonsis’ blueprint for rebuilding his Washington Wizards: stay financially flexible, sign free agents and develop supposedly talented prospect. And, perhaps, trade some of said prospects for major players when the opportunities arise.
As Washington’s dreary season slogs along, faithful followers of this 2-15 team should realize that no loss is a surprise anymore. Blowouts, overtime defeats, missed game-winners, unsuccessful comebacks, and so many—nay, too many—“moral victories.” Even the Wizards’ two wins caused discomfort throughout their conclusions. Personally, I expect the worst and then laugh at the absurdity of the outcomes to mask my disappointed sorrow.
Twitter hashtags #SoWizards and #BecauseWizards exist for a reason. And, somehow, the Wizards found yet another unique way to lose an NBA contest on Saturday night, falling to Golden State, 101-97. This squad continues to be stricken by late-game calamity.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry made two free throws to put Warriors up three points, 99-96, with eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Warriors then wisely fouled Wizards guard Bradley Beal on the floor before he was able to get a potential game-tying 3-point shot off. Randy Wittman acknowledged in post game presser that it was a wise strategy employed by the Warriors since Washington was out of timeouts. Beal was surprised by the foul, believing that he was in the act of shooting.
“I didn’t know they were going to foul. I thought he was going to let me shoot, but the ref called it. He said that he called it before I shot it. But I didn’t take another dribble, so I thought it was three shots. … It was a smart foul because you shoot two free throws.”
This was the answer Washington season ticket holder and Goodman League head honcho, Miles Rawls, said just moments before tip-off between the Wizards and Heat on Tuesday evening. I had asked the iconic D.C. hoops personality for his prediction of the matchup, one where the Wizards were 10.5-point underdogs and plus-475 payout on the money line.
Rawls was not the only one with confidence that the NBA’s current cellar dwellers could defeat the defending champs at the Verizon Center. Coach Randy Wittman delivered an inspirational message to his team before the game, and he discussed it afterwards.
“They only people that really think you have a chance tonight is us here right in this room,” Wittman remembered telling his team in the locker room.
He then spoke directly to the media attending his press conference: “You guys don’t. The outside didn’t. I said we need to have a statement game, we haven’t had a statement game … what better of an opportunity to come play in front of the fans that we knew were going to be here and to beat this team. And they took it to heart.”
Kobe and Nash will make a great duo. That’s what the numbers say anyway.
Nash had the highest assist percentage in the NBA (53.1) and made the most passes to spot-up shooters (389) in the pick-and-roll last season. More often than not, 62 percent of the time, Nash passed the rock in the two-man game, and his Phoenix Suns teammates shot 51 percent on those passes.
“With Nash taking over primary ballhandling duties and Kobe handling the ball less, expect the Lakers to get more open shots and shoot the ball at a higher percentage, including Kobe,” wrote Ryan Feldman and Rachel Eldridge of ESPN Stats & Info. “Kobe doesn’t get open very often, but when he does he’s a highly efficient shooter. If Nash is able to get open shots for Kobe, expect the Lakers to be a strong contender.”
One up, one down. The Wizards looked good at times, in spots, but not often in a 20-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks (102-82) in their Las Vegas Summer League debut. For your perusal: the box score via NBA.com.
The Washington Wizards faithful got what they came to see. No; not the Wiz getting throttled by the Hawks in Washington’s first Summer League contest — but Bradley Beal. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft dropped 22 points on 6-for-14 shooting (1-for-3 from 3-point range) in his first televised game as a pro. (His first field goal attempt, a transition layup, was blocked.) When he wasn’t finding space off ball screens, Beal was slashing into the paint for points and earning trips to the free throw line, where he missed just one of his 10 attempts. It’s easy to talk about the rookie’s versatile skillset at the two guard (handles and scoring instincts), but he really impressed on the defensive end of the floor. Beal is long, he’s quick, he’s disciplined, and he’s tough. And the best part about it: Bradley Beal is a Wizard.
The Washington Wizards concluded their pre-Summer League mini-camp this week after seven practices and a scrimmage at the Verizon Center practice court facility. As the Wizards prepare for their first summer action since 2010 due to the lockout, intriguing story lines are plentiful.
Is Bradley Beal the Real Deal? (22 solid points in his summer debut isn’t shabby.)
Will Jan Vesely expand his offensive game? (Summer League jumpers! Three of them! But, he fouled out with 10 fouls.)
Can Chris Singleton bounce back from a disappointing rookie season? (Still seems to lack instinct and confidence on offense, but took out some aggression in the second half and scored 20 total points.)
Does Steady Shelvin Mack have what it takes to be a legit NBA point guard? (Defense is there, but lack of quickness could hinder him as a scorer.)
Who is Tomas Satoransky, exactly? (Certainly not the quickest initiator of offiense.)
Can anyone else on the roster make a splash to earn a training camp invite? (Long shots to be determined….)
The Washington Wizards worked out North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes on June 19 along with Syracuse’s Kris Joseph and Northwestern’s John Shurna. Just when the media was finally given access to the Verizon Center practice court to see Barnes at work — normally for the last 10-15 minutes of a workout — Wizards coach Randy Wittman abruptly ended the session. No Barnes basketball-related activity was witnessed by the press. Wittman had issues with the media, but we’ll get to those later. A person who saw the workout said all three players shot the ball extremely well from long range, and Barnes had a highlight-type reverse jam on a baseline drive. More of that to come in the Verizon Center?
Barnes is turning into a stronger possibility for the Wizards at the third spot if certain trade rumors hold any weight — he’s Washington’s “Plan B,” if you will; Shurna and Joseph are fringe second round picks. The 6-foot-8 small forward starred at North Carolina for two seasons, but was highly criticized for not living up to the hype bestowed upon him coming out of high school. He’s happy to move on to a new chapter in the pros.
“There is not really any pressure now,” Barnes said after his workout. “Obviously, when I went to UNC, there were a lot of expectations put upon our recruiting class.”
Building the Great Wall of China was a process, you see….
The Oklahoma City Thunder are America’s heartland heroes. From top to bottom, from the shot-callers in the front office to the shot-makers on the hardwood, they’re made up of all the right stuff: sharp minds and undeniable athletic talent, blended together with a big helping of humility.
They’re winners. They’re the model of roundball reconstruction. They’re what the Washington Wizards aspire to be.
Long after last Wednesday’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Jordan Crawford remained in the training room. He likely knew the microphones waited for him to speak, but couldn’t do anything about it. A throbbing ankle spoke louder. Meanwhile, assorted media members squatted around his locker, eager to record the shooting guard’s comments after his big 32-point, 11-for-17 shooting performance in Washington’s 121-112 victory over the Bucks. When he finally emerged, Crawford gingerly limped over to his stall; he could barely put any pressure on his right ankle. He looked more like a man who would struggle moving to the right on a Metro escalator without falling down than one who just significantly diminished the hopes of a playoff contending team, including burying Milwaukee with a Agent Zero-esque 30-foot dagger to put the Wizards up six points with 50 seconds left.
Mo Evans argued that the sprained ankle, which afflicted Crawford from the opening tip, was actually beneficial:
“I think the ankle injury helped him because he slowed down, took his time and utilized all the many skills that he has; he has a ton of them. He was extremely effective tonight.”
Coach Randy Wittman expressed sentiments on Jordan’s decisive 3-point make: Read more »