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Morning tip: Wizards pay homage to Paul Pierce

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Morning tip: Wizards pay homage to Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce, like a stud freshman college basketball player, was one-and-done with the Wizards. He may have bolted in free agency for his hometown Los Angeles Clippers to end what will be a Hall-of-Fame career, but his former teammates aren't trying to forget him. They're forever grateful for his teachings -- more by example than taking any particular player under his wing -- en route to an Eastern Conference semifinals appearance that was filled with memories that will never fade. 

"Just confidence," Otto Porter, who is expected to succeed Pierce as the starting small forward, said on what he takes away from the experience. "Always keep that. That’s one thing I learned."

Pierce never was in short supply. He will be 38 when the season starts and will save his body, much like he did in Washington, for the postseason. He talked the talk before the Wizards played the Toronto Raptors in the first round, went in their house and made every big shot down the stretch as the Wizards swept them in four games after struggling against them in the regular season. Pierce hit the winning shot at the buzzer in Game 3 vs. the Hawks. His desperation, final shot in the elimination Game 6 went in and appeared to send it into overtime but came a fraction of a second too late.

“Professional. I mean that in all aspects. As a father off the court, as a lead by example guy, leading vocally. He did it all," said Martell Webster, who mostly watched from the bench but marveled at Pierce's stage presence. "He’s one bad man as he showed. His last shot here went in. … I took a lot from him. He’s a man that approached the game with the most professionalism. I’m happy for him. Everybody asks me, ‘Isn’t it messed up Paul left?’ I’m like, ‘No. It’s not. When do you get to end your career in your hometown on a championship contending team?' I’m happy for him. He’s straight chilling. There’s not a lot of pressure on him at all."

Marcin Gortat was giddy when Pierce joined the Wizards last season. He appeared heartbroken when he left. 

“We definitely lost a great leader, a great basketball mind. A great finisher in the fourth quarter," Gortat said. "You got to give it up to him. He was making a lot of big-time shots."

So what did Gortat learn? His anecdotes, as expected, were amusing.

"You’re not allowed to wear LeBron James shoes to practice. You have to be two hours before practice to lift. To warm up you got to do jump rope. If Paul Pierce does 10 reps in the bench press, you’ve got to do 11. … I wish to learn the trash talk in a game but I don’t have the bling-bling on my finger so I can’t do it. He’s special. There’s not to many persons in this league who got over 20,000 points.

"‘Pass the ball to me, even if you have a dunk. I scored 20,000-plus points in this league so you know where the ball has to go.’ So I’ll remember that. I learned a lot. Thirty-eight years old, he was here two hours before practice, jumping rope, staying on the treadmill, doing everything. Incredible work ethic. Incredible basketball IQ. It was fun to play with him."

Bradley Beal quickly responded "trash-talking" when asked about Pierce's impact on him. After a quick laugh, he turned serious. 

"His work ethic. I think the biggest thing he has that I want to get was his killer instinct, his swagger. He feels to this day he’s the best player on the floor. That’s what you have to have to be an elite two guard in the league, or an elite player period," said Beal, entering his fourth season and hoping to finally emerge as an All-Star if he can stay healthy. "He’s always the first one in the gym, the last one to leave. He’s in his 17th, 18th year and he’s still doing it."

It was Beal who fed Pierce in that Game 3 vs. the Hawks. Pierce waved him off and stepped back to bank in the shot over a double-team. Who will take that responsibility with Pierce gone?

“Me," Beal said. "For sure.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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