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Wizards announce training camp dates


Wizards announce training camp dates

The Washington Wizards will hold training camp Oct. 2 -9 at George Mason University, the team announced.In that span the Wizards play their preseason opener at Charlotte on Oct. 7, one of eight preseason games. After concluding camp, Washington hosts New York on Oct. 11 for its only home preseason game.The Wizards regular season opens Oct. 30 at Cleveland with their first home game coming in game two against Boston.Washington currently has 18 players on its training camp roster. FORIMMEDIATE RELEASESEPTEMBER 20, 2012WHO: Washington Wizards WHAT: 2012 Training CampWHERE: Patriot Center,George Mason University WHEN: Tuesday, October 2 Tuesday, October 9WASHINGTON, DC TheWashington Wizards announced today their complete training schedule and mediaavailability times for 2012 training camp, to be held at the Patriot Center onthe campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Immediately following Media Day atVerizon Center on Monday, October 1, the Wizards will travel to the campus ofGeorge Mason University where the team will conduct training camp at thePatriot Center from Tuesday, October 2-Tuesday, October 9. The teamsfirst practice will take place at the Patriot Center at 10:00 am on October 2,and training camp will continue through Saturday. The team will travel toCharlotte for their preseason game against the Bobcats at 1:00 pm on Sunday,October 7, before returning to George Mason for two more days of practice onOctober 8 and 9.The full practice schedule for trainingcamp is below. Media will be invited to watch the final 30 minutes ofeach morning session, with availability for players and Head Coach RandyWittman immediately following (evening practices with media availability arenoted below). Please be advised that practice times are subject tochange. Daren Jenkins (202-821-8080 or djenkins@monumentalsports.com)will serve as the Wizards on-site media contact. Media members are askedto contact him in advance to RSVP for practices, to verify practice times andto secure parking passes. Parking for media members will be locatedin Lot L (across from the Patriot Center box office). Attending mediashould enter the Patriot Center through the West Entrance (behind the boxoffice) and proceed to the hospitality room. 2012 WASHINGTON WIZARDS TRAININGCAMP SCHEDULEDateFirstSessionSecondSessionTuesday, Oct.210:00 AM 12:00PM 5:00 PM 7:00 PMWednesday, Oct.310:00 AM 12:00PM5:00 PM 7:00 PMThursday, Oct.46:00 PM 8:00 PMFriday, Oct.510:00 AM 12:00PM5:00 PM 7:00 PMSaturday, Oct. 611:00 AM 1:00 PMSunday, Oct.7Washington Wizards at Charlotte Bobcats (Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte,NC), 1:00 pmMonday, Oct.810:00 AM 12:00PM5:00 PM 7:00 PMTuesday, Oct.910:00 AM 12:00PM5:30 PM 7:30 PM

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With eyes set on NBA fashion world, Swaggy Picasso is quickly making a name for himself in the custom sneaker game


With eyes set on NBA fashion world, Swaggy Picasso is quickly making a name for himself in the custom sneaker game

Lloyd Ferguson had always been infatuated with sneakers. He had long been interested in painting and abstract art. It wasn't until he was 17-years-old that he realized his biggest passions in life could converge and someday become his livelihood.

It was 2011 and the annual event Sneaker Con had stopped in Washington, D.C. Ferguson, who grew up in Silver Spring, Md., came across a vendor table with customized shoes. An artist was taking popular designs from Nike, Adidas and other brands and turning them into unique and entirely original concepts.

Ferguson approached the artist and found out all he could in terms of the process and the necessary supplies to make similar shoes of his own. A seed had been planted for years later when Ferguson would make his own mark in sneaker art and become who many now know as Swaggy Picasso.

Let's rewind a bit. Before Ferguson knew customized sneakers would be a realistic path, basketball was his biggest passion. He was good at it, enough to play at Wheaton High School and later at Montgomery College. It also became a connection to his mother who passed away when he was just 13-years-old. 

Much of Ferguson's childhood was affected by the deteriorating health of his mom, who had a stroke when he was seven and as a result became paralyzed from the waist down. He often visited her while she recovered in a nursing home and, as her condition worsened, he remained connected to her through his success in the sport.

"I wanted to make my mom happy because that was the last thing she saw me doing when I was a kid. I carried that on for her," Ferguson said. "It's just been hard. I just used the things that make me happy to get me through it."

Playing college basketball was an important achievement for Ferguson, but it was short-lived. He eventually turned to art classes and as he regained those skills, he circled back to that day at Sneaker Con and how shoes were the perfect canvas. 

He started by cleaning and repainting shoes for friends and soon realized executing his own designs could be more fulfilling creatively and more lucrative. Several years in, Ferguson is starting to make a name for himself.

His Instagram account @SwaggyPicasso has allowed him to get exposure for his work. The first one that popped online was a Maryland flag-themed pair of Jordan Taxi 12s. One thing led to another, and now Lakers guard Josh Hart has an order on the way inspired by New Jersey-based artist Kaws.

"Ever since then, I've been going H.A.M. with all the painting and it's been amazing," Ferguson said.

Ferguson says his projects can take anywhere between five hours to two days. They require an extensive preparation process before the painting even begins. He will either sketch the concept on the shoe itself or on paper and go from there.

Ferguson's workshop is in his home in Silver Spring where he lives with the pastor of his church. He tries to do two shoes per day and will often stay up until the early hours of the morning to put in the finishing touches of his designs.

"I wake up every morning as the happiest man alive because I'm using my abilities and then putting it on the things that I love most which is shoes. It's just amazing," he said.

Swaggy Picasso is just starting to blow up and and all of it is overwhelming. He next  hopes to design shoes for Wizards players like John Wall and Bradley Beal and many more NBA stars. 

He is also designing a pair of shoes for NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, set to debut on Thursday night's broadcast of the Wizards' season opener against the Miami Heat. Ferguson will attend the game and plans to wear a unique design himself, a pair of Yeezys inspired by the Batman villain 'The Joker.'

With a love for basketball and sneakers, the NBA is the logical destination for Ferguson's work. He wants to create one-of-a-kind shoes for NBA players for a living and someday open his own shop where sneaker heads can walk in and get their own custom designs.

Ferguson appears well on his way to reaching those goals, but at only 23 is now just enjoying the journey.

"I never knew I would get this far or that people would notice me," he said. "It's still mind-blowing because it's like this is really happening."


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Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener


Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.