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Stephen A. Smith has some nonsense reason to claim Wizards-Celtics isn't a rivalry

Stephen A. Smith has some nonsense reason to claim Wizards-Celtics isn't a rivalry

Stephen A. Smith makes his money on the hot take-industrial complex, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that he shared his opinion (loudly) on the big story in the NBA last night: the Wizards-Celtics rivalry. 

But this time, the take was so scorching as to border on nonsensical. Basically, his argument was that the Wizards and Celtics can't have a rivalry because neither team will contend for the NBA title this season, making the animus between them irrelevant. 

Now here's the irony: Where was Smith delivering this sermon? On the 11 p.m. edition of SportsCenter.

Contrary to what the First Take host said, the Wizards-Celtics rivalry was so relevant as to be featured on the biggest sports news show in American televsion last night. 

And let's be clear: You don't have to contend for a championship to be rivals in any sport, or in any field of competition. Would Smith say the Ravens and Steelers aren't a rivalry because neither team will play in the Super Bowl this year? 

I should mention that Smith said lots of really complimentary things about John Wall and Bradley Beal in this segment, so presumably they're relevant enough for him to comment on. 

But to be charitable, Smith seems to be dismissing the Wizards-Celtics rivalry to make a larger point about the lack of parity in the NBA. 

He argued that Kevin Durant joining the Warriors tipped the balance of power so dramatically that only three teams -- the Warriors, Cavaliers and maybe Spurs -- have a prayer of winning a title.

And he claimed that top-heaviness has made regular season games between other teams feel trivial for him to cover. 

Smith isn't the only person to lob this complaint at the NBA. Even comissioner Adam Silver has said Durant's move to the Warriors harmed competitive balance around the league. Not that it was particularly balanced beforehand, mind you.

But I'll tell you something that Smith ignores: Wizards fans really care about what happens in games against the Celtics. Rivalries aren't constructed in the media, they're born between players and fans of opposing teams. 

Frankly, the Wizards beating the Celtics last night was a lot more relevant to most NBA fans than whatever Stephen A. had to say about it afterwards. 

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards walk the walk: Is it a rivalry now?

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Scott Brooks has a simple reason for why Bradley Beal should be an All-Star

Scott Brooks has a simple reason for why Bradley Beal should be an All-Star

WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal was not picked as a starter for next month's NBA All-Star Game through a voting process that included fans, the media and fellow players. Now it is up to NBA head coaches, who select the seven reserves for each conference.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is not allowed to vote for his own player, but believes Beal has a good chance to be picked based on one simple reason. He can tell how much opposing coaches respect Beal each and every night the Wizards play a game.

"Brad's an All-Star. I know that because every night I get to see it. Every night I get to see the defensive schemes against him. He gets double-teamed I want to say every game. That tells me that coaches feel the same way," Brooks said.

Brooks doesn't lobby other coaches to vote for his players, but said others have tried to persuade him in the past. He will "respectfully listen," he says, but believes it is important to do his own research and make his own choices.

"We all take pride in our choice," Brooks said. "It's an elite group and it's hard to get in."

Though Beal isn't a starter, he has a good case for being a reserve. This season he is averaging 28.1 points (third in East), 6.3 assists (10th in East) and 4.5 rebounds per game. 

If Beal doesn't make the All-Star team, it will likely be blamed on the Wizards' record. They are 15-30 and some of his competitors could get credit for being on better teams.

Brooks, though, believes other coaches should consider the circumstances Beal has been in. He says he takes that stuff into account with his own vote.

"There's a lot of factors that go in," Brooks explained. "It's situations. Guys that are on teams that are not playing well... are they not playing well because of him or are they not playing well because they have a lot of young guys, or because they're injured? A lot of players are injured. We've had a lot of injuries this year."

Beal has been an All-Star each of the past two years. We will find out on Thursday if he is in for the third time.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Following the passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday, emotions were high. 

Many current and former players paid tribute to Bryant, including Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, who dominated in the Hawks 152-133 win over the Wizards. 

He ended the night with a spectacular performance of 45 points, with 14 assists, making 13-of-24 FGs and 13-of-16 free throws as well as six 3-pointers, six rebounds and one assist. 

Young is the first player to have a 45-point double-double with under 25 field goal attempts against the Washington Wizards, since Kobe Bryant on December 17, 2006.

In honor of his mentor and favorite NBA player, Young wore a No. 8 jersey and took an 8-second-violation after the opening tip. 

He even wore his shoes with a tribute to Bryant as well. 

Young was able to channel his emotions into the game, leaving everything on the floor.

In an emotional night, Young was able to keep himself composed leading the Hawks past the Wizards. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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