Wizards

Colts raise money for leukemia research

201211051756645992939-p2.jpeg

Colts raise money for leukemia research

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts used some down time Saturday night to support coach Chuck Pagano and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Indiana.

Just days after nearly three dozen players, including rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, shaved their heads to support Pagano in his battle against a form of leukemia, coach Bruce Arians, other team employees and some players showed up at a local night spot for the fundraiser.

Organizers were hoping for $10,000 to donate to the society in Pagano's name.

Arians couldn't think of a better way to spend a rare Saturday night off - watching Alabama, where he has coached twice, mingling with fans and supporting his close friend.

``This is about family, and so many families are affected by this disease that everything we can do to fight it, we will,'' said Arians, a prostate cancer survivor himself.

The fundraiser was the brainchild of Sean Sullivan and his wife, who own Sully's Bar and Grill on the city's west side. Sullivan is the Colts' equipment manager, and like the players, cut off his hair.

The big night included an auction of memorabilia that Sullivan collected from his contacts around the league and in other sports.

Among the items were signed NFL jerseys from Drew Brees, Edgerrin James and Tim Tebow; Peyton Manning's signed high school jersey, a football signed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; helmets autographed by Dan Marino and Rex Ryan; a racing helmet signed by Dale Earnhardt Jr.; a basketball signed by Indiana coach Tom Crean and a football signed by Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson; and a mini-helmet signed by Dick Butkus.

The Baltimore Ravens, where Pagano coached before coming to Indy, also donated a helmet.

Some of the more unusual items included game-worn cleats from two Colts players - Luck and Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea - autographed basketball shoes from Pacers swingman Danny Granger and scripts autographed by the casts of some CBS shows, including Criminal Minds and CSI: New York.

``It's in Coach's honor and he doesn't even know we're donating the money in his name,'' Sullivan said. ``When he first got here, he told me he had my back. I just wanted to help.''

Since Pagano took an indefinite leave from the team, players and coaches have shown their support in different ways.

Arians has worn a special button in the horseshoe on his baseball cap. Receiver Reggie Wayne used orange gloves during a surprising win over Green Bay, the first game Indy played after Pagano was diagnosed with the illness. The nameplates over players' lockers at the team headquarters now have special stickers with the initials CP, and the team pro shop has been selling T-shirts and wrist bands that say Chuckstrong, a popular trend among the Saturday night crowd.

Arians also has appeared at three fundraisers and will hold a fourth Friday night at Dunaway's, a restaurant in downtown Indy, with Luck and Wayne. Tickets for that event cost $100 and Arians said it's almost sold out.

But those in the Colts organization believe the best medicine for Pagano is seeing his team win - something Indianapolis (6-3) has done five times in the six games since Arians took over.

``There are times when your team needs to play with a purpose and it's been good because we've found a purpose,'' Arians said. ``It's just a shame that Chuck had to get sick.''

Quick Links

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

usatsi_10761235.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

MORE CAPITALS' NEWS: