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With Wall out, Beal steps into spotlight


With Wall out, Beal steps into spotlight

Off the court, Wizards rookie Bradley Beal is everything a coach or teammate or fan would want him to be – polite, respectful and pleasant.

But if you ask those who watch him play every night, the 19-year-old shooting guard from Florida will need to play with a little more assertiveness if he wants to be an impact player while filling in for injured star John Wall.

“I’ve just told him to play basketball and be aggressive,” said Wall, who will be watching from the bench in Cleveland Tuesday night when Beal makes his NBA debut in the Wizards’ season opener against the Cavs.

“I think sometimes he’s unaggressive and that’s something you learn as you get more comfortable with your teammates and more comfortable with your game.”

Taken third overall in the 2012 NBA draft, Beal started five of the Wizards’ eight preseason games and led the team in minutes played, averaging just under 26 minutes.

Beal finished the preseason ranked third on the team in scoring with 11.3 points a game, behind only Martell Webster [12.0] and Jordan Crawford [11.5]. He also averaged 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals.

Wizards TV color analyst Phil Chenier says he sees in Beal the skill set necessary to be a scoring threat in the NBA. But like Wall, he’d like to see a little more assertiveness.

“I noticed in the summer league there were moments when he could have been a lot more aggressive,” Chenier said. “To show ‘I’m one of the top players and I want to establish that when I need to score, I’m going to score.’

“It’s natural to want to blend in. Only a few guys have that killer mentality that, ‘I don’t care if I am a rookie. Give me the ball.’ That’s what everybody struggles with in that first year. You’re coming from college where you were the man. Now you have to take your turn.”

In his only season with the Gators, Beal averaged 14.8 points, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals a game. The Wizards took him with the third pick overall because of his superior athletic ability, believing he would be the perfect complement to Wall.

But with Wall sidelined the first month of the season with a knee injury, the Wizards will need Beal to take a lead role in the backcourt.   

“Body language says so much and your opponents can read that,” Chenier said. “If you’re in a back-off mode, some opponents will gobble you up. If you’re aggressive – yeah, you can smile and grin at people -- but when it comes to the nitty-gritty you’ve got to be willing to do it.”

Chenier said he came into the NBA under similar circumstances in 1971. At the time, Earl Monroe and Archie Clark made up the Baltimore Bullets’ backcourt. Chenier eventually replaced Clark and went on to become a three-time All-Star for the Bullets in 1974, 1975 and 1977.

Chenier says he sees a similar window of opportunity for Beal.

“One man’s injury is somebody else’s opportunity,” he said. “I’m not talking about Bradley ball hogging. I’m talking about when you have that isolation for a split second – boom -- you gotta go. You’ve got to get teams to be concerned and worried about you, even when you don’t have the ball.”

Chenier said only a handful of NBA rookies have shown the ability to be that assertive at such a young age. He recalled Geoff Petrie doing it back in 1970-71 when he led the Portland Trail Blazers as a rookie with 24.8 points a game. And, of course, Michael Jordan, who averaged 28.2 points a game with the Chicago Bulls as a rookie in 1984-85.

Petrie was 22 in his rookie year; Jordan was 21.

“Even LeBron James came in kind of delicately,” Chenier said, referring to James’ 20.9 average in his rookie year in Cleveland. “Even as big as he is, he didn’t really assert himself. He’s just now starting to realize how he needs to use his talent and size and skill level.”

Chenier says he believes Beal can be a dominant player in the NBA. It just won’t happen overnight.

“He’s measuring the territory,” he said, “and I get a good vibe from him just watching him interact with his teammates.”

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Wizards vs. Nuggets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Nuggets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Special night

It will be an emotional night for many as the Wizards get set to retire Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey. Chenier was not only a great player for the franchise during their heyday in the 1970s, but he was a legendary broadcaster of Wizards and Bullets games for decades and has been an ambassador for the organization for a long, long time. 

His jersey will be raised during a halftime ceremony hosted by Chenier's former broadcast partner and good friend Steve Buckhantz. Chenier will have many friends and family on hand. All fans will also receive emoji signs with Chenier's face on them.


Harris is out

Like the Wizards and John Wall, the Nuggets will be without one of their best players as star guard Gary Harris is dealing with right knee soreness. Harris, just 23, is Denver's leading scorer with 17.7 points per game on 48.6 percent shooting from the field and 39.9 percent from three. 

The Nuggets still have plenty of firepower beyond him. Nikola Jokic is one of the game's brightest young stars with averages of 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He shoots a ridiculous 39.3 percent from three as a big man. Guard Jamal Murray, just 20, is averaging 16.5 points while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three. Then there is Paul Millsap, a four-time All-Star who is averaging 14.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season.

The Wizards' defense will be put to the test, as the Nuggets are one of the best scoring teams in basketball. They boast the seventh-best points per game average (109.8) and the sixth-best offensive rating (112.4). 


Last time was interesting

The first time these teams squared off, back on Oct. 23 in just the third game of the season, things got a little weird. In the final minute, Jokic was assessed a technical for bumping into Wizards head coach Scott Brooks.

It was a bizarre sequence that helped the Wizards come away with a win. Given it was an incident between a player and coach, nothing will happen in the way of retaliation, but it's something to keep in mind as these teams go at it again.


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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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