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Wall yearns for Wizards to get Kevin Durant treatment in D.C.


Wall yearns for Wizards to get Kevin Durant treatment in D.C.

Sometimes, the truth is uncomfortable. It also can downright hurt. While John Wall tried to measure his words carefully about fans of the Wizards who show up at Verizon Center for certain opponents, he couldn't help but be honest before Kevin Durant arrives with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Tuesday's game (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET). 

What does he think of Wizards fans who undoubtedly will be cheering for Durant?

"You're going to hear some cheers tomorrow. You're going to see some chants and you're going to see jerseys but we need more fans supporting us if they want us to do well," Wall said. "That's like us going to another team putting on another jersey, they're (not) going to boo us when we come here?"

This means they're either not very loyal, passionate or too easily allow rival fans to shout them down despite being outnumbered. And I'll take it even a step further than Wall because I have a unique perspective of having covered the league on a national scale for a national publication. At Oracle Arena for the Golden State Warriors, long before they won the NBA championship like last season, this scenario would've never played out. I watched them blow a 20-point fourth-quarter lead to the Memphis Grizzlies on their way to 23 wins in the 2011-12 season, and it was sold out and boisterous that night and just the same two nights later vs. the Portland Trail Blazers. They've never struggled to fill those seats and their enthusiasm didn't come with strings attached.

What Wall was referencing would never happen in Portland or Memphis, or Dallas with the Mavericks or in Toronto with the Raptors, either. And definitely not Oklahoma City. Would it happen in Miami? Well, yes, because all you need to do is compare the number of Heat fans who show up at Verizon Center today vs. when LeBron James wore their colors. That's not the best company for Wizards fans to keep. 

"When you play Lakers and Knicks and Spurs and you have all these other fans here, it gets frustrating at times," said Wall, who already has played against the latter two at home this season. "Then they see it turn and you're winning, they all of a sudden want to be on one page. That's frustrating because we go out here and bust our tail everyday to try to compete and win for this city. We deserve the same kind of respect."


During a game vs. the Spurs last week, with the score tied at 96 with 52 seconds left, it felt more like a road game. The jeers were audible as he tried to concentrate. This isn't the 29-win Wizards that they were three years ago. This is a team that made the conference semifinals the last two seasons with a legitimate chance to advance to the conference finals -- without Durant.

"I was getting booed at the free throw line," said Wall, who made both foul shots in what was a 102-99 win vs. San Antonio. "You can't control fans of any team. But I feel like the way this team has progressed in the years since I've been here, my rookie year we were getting no cheers when we played the Lakers and Knicks. It was straight boos fur us. I feel like we're making progress and winning and we have something special and we got the opportunity when we figure everything out, you got to respect and cheer for those guys that's putting in the work."

Wall considers Durant, a D.C. native who will be hotly recruited by the Wizards when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, a friend. They've trained together on the West coast where Wall lives during the offseason in the Los Angeles area and during time spent with USA Basketball in Las Vegas.

"We worked out a couple times. Even years past. That motivated me to want to work hard, not knowing what hard work really was. I worked hard but to see a player work to get to the level he's at it was even more (important)," Wall said. "The USA thing, we had a late-night workout, me him and James (Harden). I got workouts with those guys, multiple guys. Kevin is very selective on who he works out with."

There will be repeated questions about Durant. Everything he says will be decoded, minced and exaggerated between now and his free-agent decision. When July 1 comes, the day free agency opens around the league, let's hope Durant's decision is quick and painless. The rule of thumb is if a team courting a player doesn't get an affirmative quickly -- think of Trevor Ariza two years ago or Paul Pierce this past summer --  that player has other ideas and likely will head elsewhere.

"It's the same as I said last year. We can't worry about what Kevin Durant is doing. He's worried about his OKC team and me and Brad (Beal) and the 13 guys on our team, we're worried about the Washington Wizards," Wall said. "We're not here to tank and not try to make the playoffs and not trying to win a championship and do those things. Our main focus is the 15 guys on our team."

Based on Durant's words leading into this game, Wizards fans who show him too much love when he's wearing enemy colors may have good intentions but are disloyal. If he leaves town with that impression, then why would he ever want to play in D.C.? What if he realizes that often when the crowd gets loudest is during the fourth-quarter -- for a free chicken sandwich promo -- when an opponent misses two free throws?

I don't know the answer, and while there will be complaints about me pointing out this 800-pound elephant in the room (only because Durant and Wall brought it up first), it's certainly a fair question that he'll answer once and for all in nine months.

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

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


Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)



Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets


Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves


Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.


Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.


Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.


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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.


Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest. He edged Larry Nance, Jr. of the Cavaliers in the finals.