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After best game of career, Wizards' Satoransky has his confidence back

After best game of career, Wizards' Satoransky has his confidence back

Tomas Satoransky has had a tumultuous few weeks. After getting zero minutes in 13 of 18 games from Dec. 2 through Jan. 8, the Wizards rookie fell ill. An hour before their game on Jan. 10 against the Bulls, Satoransky packed his bag at the Verizon Center, wished his teammates good luck and went home. He remained there the next day as the Wizards traveled to Boston to play the Celtics.

Satoransky's nascent NBA career had hit a lowpoint. He was out of the rotation completely and now not even with the team, instead resting and watching on TV. That was not how he envisioned his first season going.

But once Satoransky started feeling better, he returned to practice revitalized. Head coach Scott Brooks saw a renewed focus.

"He came back from the flu and had a good practice four or five days ago, a couple of good shootarounds. He was active," Brooks said.

That led to Satoransky earning 21 minutes of action on Jan. 14, his first game back after being sick. That was his most minutes in nearly two months, and Satoransky made the most of them. He scored four points and grabbed four rebounds against the Sixers, showing enough to Brooks to receive another opportunity on Monday afternoon against the Blazers.

It was in that next game that Satoransky had a personal breakthrough. The Czech-native posted his first career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.

"This number really surprised me because I'm not known for grabbing rebounds as a point guard. [Double-double], that surprised me a lot," Satoransky admitted.

[RELATED: 5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Blazers]

Satoransky shot 4-for-7 from the field, made a three, dished out three assists and had one steal. It was his best game as an NBA player and with that came a pretty good feeling afterwards.

"I got my confidence back," Satoransky said. "I was kind of struggling with that. Obviously, once you are not in the rotation you lose your confidence. You don't want to. I'm glad the last two games have gone well for us. It helped me to feel good again."

Satoransky, 25, said his confidence was built early by making his first three shots and contributing to a few stops on the defensive end. He and the Wizards bench helped maintain a double-digit lead against the Blazers, something they haven't always been able to do this season, and Satoransky was making plays.

"I thought he made some good decisions in the open court. He gives us another live body that we can throw out there," Brooks said.

"I'm definitely well-aware, especially as a [former] backup point guard, that that's a tough position. You can have a lead and if things don't go well then it's always your fault. I've been in that position for over a decade. So my job is to continue to give him confidence. I trust when he's on the floor. He just doesn't get a lot of minutes. We have a really, really good point guard in front of him. But I like what he's doing. I like what he's going in practice."

Satoransky had a great day, but there was one error that stuck with him following the game. In the closing seconds, he reared back for a towering dunk, but got too much rim and saw the ball bounce out. He nearly put a Blazers defender on a poster, but walked away with merely a missed opportunity, one that he wished he had back.

"The guys always talk to me, saying I'm going to dunk in the warmup and at practice, but I'm not doing it in a game. So, I really wanted to make this one but unfortunately I couldn't. I was kind of preparing my steps for that," he said.

Still, a successful day for the Wizards rookie guard.

[RELATED: Oubre shows progress on both ends vs. Blazers]

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John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

As people around the country continue to protest police brutality and racial injustices against black people, athletes continue to add their powerful voices and experiences to the cause.

Wizards guard John Wall joined in the conversation, discussing the fear he continues to have about being pulled over by the police. For many black Americans, the reality of racial discrimination makes the mere thought of being pulled over more daunting than it should be. Apparently that anxiety doesn’t dissipate just because you’re a star athlete.

“If I get pulled over right now, I’m terrified,” Wall said on Thursday’s episode of The Athletic’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast. “To be realistic. If I’m in a dark area, or a back street, I’m not stopping. I’ll go to a high-speed chase to get to a spot where it’s a grocery store, or somewhere where there’s a lot of lights at, because that’s how terrifying it is.”

To some, it may be jarring to hear a recognizable, millionaire athlete discuss his fear of the police, but the money and acclaim don't provide a shield from racism. And for many black people, the fear is instilled at a young age, either through personal experiences or those of people with the same skin color. In the age of camera phones, more and more incidents are being recorded for the world to see.

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George Floyd was suffocated and killed by a white police officer in Minnesota who put a knee to his neck for over eight minutes. Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times and killed in her own home by police in Louisville. Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death by a white father and son while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood.

“You’re telling me if I want to be a black kid to jog in a neighborhood, and I say, ‘Ok, I want to cut through this white neighborhood, this rich neighborhood,’ and then all of a sudden, I’m targeted to get killed?” Wall continued. “Because I don’t belong there? Those are the kind of things I grew up with, like you wouldn’t go to this side of town where you wasn’t allowed. Why? We breathe the same air.”

Wall, who grew up in Raleigh, N.C., said the constant acts of racial discrimination have been frustrating and that all people want to see is justice. 

“I feel like this has been going on for decades, been going on for so much longer than the time I’ve been on this earth,” he said. “But if we didn’t have social media or camera phones right now, we wouldn’t be able to see this act going on.”

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

The NBA now has a concrete plan to return to action, but there are still obstacles that will need solving when play resumes. One of the most important will be the health and safety of players amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, the league will need to know how to handle the possibility of a positive COVID-19 virus diagnosis. With a large number of individuals destined to be in close proximity in Orlando, could one player testing positive derail the entire plan? Would that team then have to be eliminated due to the potential risk they carry?

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, that will not be the case.

“The answer is we don’t believe we would need to," Silver told Charles Barkley on TNT's Inside the NBA, referring to the idea of having to eliminate a team due to a positive coronavirus result.

Silver's confidence stems from the vast amount of research and preparation the league has done to get to this stage in the return process. Not only have NBA officials detailed plans of action, but SIlver and others are working closely with health experts in Florida to make sure things go smoothly.

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Based on what they've heard so far, one positive test won't be the end-all for the NBA. If a player were to be diagnosed with COVID-19, the league knows the exact procedure to keep others safe.

“The view is that if we are testing every day and we are able to trace, in essence, the contacts the player has had," Silver said. "We are able to, in essence, contain that player and separate that from his team.”

The commissioner explained that the NBA is continuing to test on a daily basis, and that won't change anytime soon. The threat of coronavirus impacting the league's return is strong, but Silver and the NBA are confident that they'll be able to overcome any issues and have the season play out in a safe manner.

"The belief is we would not have to shut down if a single player tested positive," Silver said. 

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