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Morning tip: John Wall learns to lead by example


Morning tip: John Wall learns to lead by example

Training camp hadn't even began, and when Martell Webster reported to Verizon Center for Media Day last Monday he was surprised at what he'd seen. It was John Wall who already was there. He'd come in a few hours early to work on his shot before going through hours of posing for photos and interviews.

The Wizards are loaded with veterans, but there's no one like Paul Pierce on the roster this season. Wall is the closest thing with his other mentors, Trevor Ariza and Al Harrington, long gone. In his sixth season, the responsibility is mostly his -- as the point guard, the All-Star and best player -- and it's something that coach Randy Wittman has been emphasizing with him since his rookie season in 2010 when Wall was the No. 1 overall pick. 

"It’s shown early here. It’s been really good," Wittman said after the first week of training camp. "His leadership, just not talking but leading by example. First in the line of drills, actively helping somebody on a mistake on the floor, encouraging teammates, those are all the things he’s taken a huge step this year. He’s got to continue that. … I like what I’ve seen."

When Wall first arrived, the locker room was dysfunctional and role models for him were scarce. Emeka Okafor was a good influence who called him out for blaming teammates for not catching his passes, which led to an argument in the training room in 2013. Ariza took the initiative to call a players-only meeting when the Wizards began 2-7 before making the playoffs in 2014. 

Wall had to figure out how to talk to teammates. He also was put under the microscope by Wittman, who wouldn't let his star off the hook when he fell into 1-on-1 battles with opponents that proved counterproductive or slacked off defensively. And Wall won the old coach's respect with his will to win and refusing to take games off when he could because of minor injuries. 

"Leadership, you’re born with it. It’s hard to press someone and say, ‘Hey, you be a leader,'" said Jared Dudley, who had spent most of his career playing with Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns before coming to Washington this summer. "Steve wasn’t a vocal leader. He’s someone in the locker room who led by example. He was the first one in there. He was the hardest worker. He didn’t talk a lot. Shaq? All he did was talk. You got different people who do different things.

A leader, you got to know personalities. The NBA is different. Some guys you can curse at. Some guys you have to encourage them."

MORE WIZARDS: Gortat rolling with Wizards move toward small ball

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!