Wizards

Four Hall of Famers receive Lapchick Award

Four Hall of Famers receive Lapchick Award

NEW YORK (AP) Morgan Wootten has received many awards in recognition of his long and successful coaching career at DeMatha High School.

On Thursday, he was one of four Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers to be recognized with the Lapchick Character Award and he let the crowd of 250 people at the New York Athletic Club know this was one of the most special honors because of who it is named after and what it stands for.

``Lou Carnesecca invited me up to New York in 1957, my second year at DeMatha, for a little basketball and I was very lucky we went out to lunch with Joe Lapchick,'' Wootten said referring to Carnesecca, another Hall of Famer who was Lapchick's assistant for nine years before succeeding him. ``He told me two things that day that I've never forgotten. He said `Morgan, first thing remember this. A player will never forget his coach. They may forget some kids they went to school with, some teachers they had, some people they met along the way, but they will never forget their coach, the man who is supposed help them become a total human being and a success in whatever they decide to do in life.'''

Wootten won five national championships at the high school in Hyattsville, Md., compiling a 1,274-192 record in 46 years at the school where he also coached football, served as athletic director and taught World History.

He continued with the story from 55 years ago, no notes, just memories that meant a lot.

``And then he said, `Secondly, you know the best thing about coaching? Ten, 15, 20 years later one of those players will come back with a big smile and say `Hi, Coach.' And that's what this business is all about: `Hi, Coach.'''

Wootten then looked out at five tables full of his former players, including CBS' James Brown, who introduced him, and Notre Dame coach Mike Brey who also served as his assistant at DeMatha.

``There were so many of you today who gave me the thrill of saying `Hi, Coach,''' Wootten said.

Also honored Thursday were the late Pete Newell, who won a national championship at California in 1959 and compiled a 119-44 record in a 14-year career, Cathy Rush, the pioneer of women's coaches who led tiny Immaculata College to the first three national championships conducted by the AIAW, and C.M. Newton, the former coach at Alabama and Vanderbilt, who cleaned up a post-scandal program at Kentucky and was one of the United States' biggest voices in international basketball.

Dereck Whittenburg, who played for Wootten at DeMatha and then became part of college basketball lore by throwing the long pass that Lorenzo Charles dunked to give North Carolina State the national championship in 1983. That set off the scene of Jim Valvano running around the court looking for someone to hug.

``I never heard the man curse, not once,'' Whittenburg said Wootten. ``He could be sarcastic. `One rebound? I could get one rebound.' And he could get on you if you deserved it. But he was always making you better. That's why all these guys are here for him today. He's our coach.''

High school basketball recruiting legend Howard Garfinkel said Wootten is one of the two best high school coaches ever along with Bob Hurley Sr. of St. Anthony in Jersey City, N.J., a Lapchick Award winner in 2010.

``Morgan has personality, attention to detail and an insatiable desire to win,'' Garfinkel said. ``That's why he is up where he is.''

Greg Newell, the youngest of Newell''s four sons, said he knew at early age his father was famous for basketball.

``I was very cognizant of who Dad was,'' Greg Newell said. ``Growing up there were always people around him. But we learned about out father was that he didn't have an ego. He had an aura, though.''

Newton was unable to attend the event because of sinus issues but he spoke with the crowd over a speakerphone.

``I mean this with all my heart,'' he said, ``being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame was the best thing that ever happened to me and this is next. To be associated with a man like Joe Lapchick means so much to me.''

Rush's story with Immaculata was told in the movie ``Mighty Macs.'' She said her players in those early years were ``women of character,'' winning despite having the financial help of bigger schools.

The award, in its fifth year, recognizes those who have shown the character traits of Lapchick, who coached at St. John's and with the New York Knicks and was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player and coach.

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

“How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?”

That brain-busting question from a current NBA general manager came before the February 7 trade deadline when rumors involving Wizards guard Bradley Beal swirled.

Another migraine-inducing conundrum is forthcoming whether Beal receives All-NBA honors or not.

Should the league’s upcoming announcement of its first, second and third team include the two-time All-Star, the Wizards may have no choice but to break up the backcourt pairing with John Wall that fueled the franchise’s most sustained success since winning the 1978 title.

This honor comes with a financial reward-- if extended to Beal by the Wizards --  in the form of a supermax contract worth approximately $193 million over four years that would begin in 2021-22. He still has two years and $56 million remaining on the valued five-year, $127 million deal he signed in 2016.

The issue is less about Beal’s hefty chunk of the Wizards’ salary cap, but combining it with Wall’s four-year, $170 million supermax deal that begins next season. Offer Beal the supermax and, should he accept, approximately 71 percent of the team’s future salary cap beginning in the 2021-22 season would be chewed up by two players.

Beal and Wall, when healthy, are All-Stars. They’re not Jordan and Pippen.

NBC Sports Washington spoke with over a dozen league sources in recent weeks including three current or former general managers, other executives, NBA coaches, and scouts, about Beal’s contract situation and the Wizards’ overall equation coming off a 32-50 campaign.

Some dutifully tried putting themselves in the mindset of Washington’s next front office leader knowing Beal’s contract status and other limiting or uncertain factors.

The executives shared opinions on whether to boldly hold or sell high on the Wizards’ best player. Regardless of their stance, their initial instinct almost unanimously landed in the same place as this current lead executive: “I have no idea what you would do.”

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There’s an incredibly strong argument for doing nothing. How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?

Several NBA sources largely acknowledge the choice almost gets removed from the Wizards front office should Beal receive the All-NBA nod. Even if Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson or Ben Simmons trump Beal in the voting, events from early February may effectively force the Wizards’ hand.

Washington faced its second consecutive luxury tax payment, diminishing playoff hopes and the knowledge that Wall would miss the rest of the season with a heel injury.

Despite those negatives and salary cap concerns with only five players catapulting the team over next season’s salary cap, big picture hope existed. The headliners -- Wall, Beal and Otto Porter -- previously put the Wizards in a playoff contender mode. “We're not trading any of those players,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said at the time.

There’s a good reason to believe Leonsis meant what he said. Then life intervened and forced change.

Wall’s left Achilles ruptured during the first week of February. The recovery time means an entire calendar year and perhaps the full 2019-20 season. Those negatives, especially with the salary cap, were now amplified.

Washington dealt with that financial scenario two days after the Wall status update by trading Porter and Markieff Morris to slide under the luxury tax.

Another life event requiring a financial decision could happen soon.

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There’s no debating whether Beal is worthy of the All-NBA accolade. Some believe he is a favorite to snag one of the two guard spots on the third-team.

The dilemma is can the Wizards justify offering a contract with those hefty terms knowing what’s already on the books, plus the upcoming challenges.

Pass and the likelihood of trading Beal at peak value becomes a leading option. Hold Beal regardless and his trade value effectively decreases over the next two seasons with the possibility he leaves as a 2021 free agent without compensation.

“The Wizards is a hard job right now,” a former GM told NBC Sports Washington. “There’s a lot to figure out. Timelines can’t be certain with John Wall in particular. For Bradley Beal, that's a decision… Hard to walk in [to those interviews) with a specific plan.”

Leave the supermax contract off the table and the human element arises. Those familiar with Beal’s mindset do not see a Robin to Wall’s Batman. Co-headliners, cool, but then pay and appreciate accordingly. Maybe folks could start referring to the pair as Beal and Wall once in a while.

Forget the money, which isn’t Beal’s driving motivation. As one source familiar with Beal’s thinking stated, “Brad needs to be in the playoffs. He’s not disruptive...Brad just wants to win.”

The Wizards might not be in playoff position next season even if Beal maintains his All-NBA level. It's a near lock they won't if the 2012 first-round pick is traded.

Beal averaged 30.9 points in February, the same month he dropped a season-high 46 at Charlotte and his All-NBA buzz soared. Beal joined 2019 MVP finalist James Harden as the only players this season to average at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.5 steals.

The wing guard’s leadership kept Washington tangibly in the playoff race until realities of the undermanned roster kicked in.

“I think [Brad is] an all-NBA player in my eyes,” said Wall, an All-NBA selection in 2016. “You know how tough it is to make that team? It’s always tough. The year he’s had speaks for itself.”

How do you trade that player especially one groomed by the organization since selecting him third overall in 2012? You can't -- but the Wizards might not have a choice.

Nobody recognizes this more than Bradley Beal.

"Honestly, I’m here until I’m not here," Beal told NBC Sports Washington earlier this month. "I’m not thinking too strong on it. My personal desire is to be here and see the direction we go. Hopefully, the correct direction.

"I keep hearing the possibility of rebooting, trading Brad and getting assets back. It’s a business. I understand both sides of it. I can’t be mad at it."

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks Tuesday to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1970, where they were eliminated by the Boston Bruins.

They will look to even the odds, as they will be taking on the Bruins yet again on Monday night.

Blues fan and St. Louis native Bradley Beal will hope that his hometown squad will take the cup from the reigning champs, the Washington Capitals, and win the matchup against the Bruins.

Beal cheered on the Caps just a year ago and is ready to show out for the surging Blues.

To really put it into perspective how long it has been since the Blues played for the Cup, take a look at the number one song in the country when these two teams faced off 49 years ago. 

The Blues besting the Bruins will be a challenge, and Beal will be ready to root for his squad until the final buzzer.

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