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Bullets legend Wes Unseld excited for Phil Chenier ahead of jersey retirement

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Associated Press

Bullets legend Wes Unseld excited for Phil Chenier ahead of jersey retirement

When Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey is raised to the rafters at Capital One Arena on March 23, there will be a lot of emotions for those who have followed his career. There will be a unique sense of pride for his former Bullets teammates who know how integral he was to the franchise's success in the 1970s.

Hall of Famer Wes Unseld, for one, thinks it's not only well-deserved but that it is probably overdue.

"It's about damn time, to be honest with you," he said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington's Julie Donaldson. "I thought it should have been up there a long time ago. This guy was instrumental in a lot of the success this organization has had over the years."

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Chenier and Unseld played nine seasons together with the organization, first in Baltimore and then representing Washington, D.C. Unseld recalls Chenier, a three-time All-Star, as a gifted player on both ends of the court. Many remember Chenier for his shooting abilities and the fact he consistently averaged 20-plus points per game, but Unseld wants everyone to remember the defense as well.

"He was the total player," Unseld said. "He could get into you defensively."

Unseld first met Chenier when he had already made a name for himself and Chenier had yet to set foot on campus of the University of California. It was in San Francisco and Unseld was stopping through on his way to Japan.

They played together in a scrimmage and Chenier was just in high school. 

"They brought this little kid out on the court who looked like he was in the sixth grade. I thought, man, this little kid could play," Unseld said.

PODCAST: WHAT SHOULD WIZARDS' EXPECT IN PLAYOFFS?

It was just four years after that when Chenier joined Unseld on the Bullets as a selection in the hardship draft. Chenier made an instant impact and earned All-Rookie honors for the 1971-72 season.

Unseld still saw Chenier as a kid playing well beyond his years.

"When he came to the team, he looked so young. I remember a few of the older guys said they had to protect this guy because he could carry us. He could give us something that we really needed. We couldn't allow him to get beat up or hurt," Unseld said.

There was one time in particular where Unseld remembers he had to look out for Chenier. They were playing against Walt Bellamy, another NBA Hall of Famer who had previously played for the Bullets. Bellamy would stick his knee out on screens and caught Chenier a few times with the trick.

Chenier was furious and told Unseld in the huddle. Unseld made sure it didn't happen again.

"I sure as hell didn't want him hurting Phil at that time. We needed him," Unseld said. "I just wanted to make sure that if Walt stuck another knee out then it was something we would have to deal with."

 

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Unseld saw Chenier grow up as a basketball player and as a man. He is now thrilled to know that Chenier's jersey will be hanging up along with his and that Chenier will finally get this day he has so long deserved.

Chenier will have many close ones on hand for the ceremony including his kids, grandchildren and longtime friends. Unseld hopes they and all the Wizards fans out there understand how good Chenier truly was.

"It just shows them visually and it tells the rest of the Washingtonian people that they recognize that [Phil] was a pretty damn good player," he said.

Chenier's jersey retirement will take place at halftime on March 23 when the Wizards host the Denver Nuggets.

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You can listen to Wes Unseld's full interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast right here:

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John Wall puts 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas on a poster

John Wall puts 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas on a poster

WASHINGTON -- Things were not looking good for the Washington Wizards to start Game 4. Honestly, there were some flashes back to the team’s performance in the first two games of the series against the Toronto Raptors.

That all quickly changed when John Wall did what he does best: drive to the basket.

Not only did Wall drive to the basket, he went and put Raptors' center Jonas Valanciunas on a poster.

Valanciunas is a 7-foot Lithuanian.

We get it John, it’s your city and we’re all your residents.

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

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

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: