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Wizards break longest division title streak in North American pro sports by winning Southeast

Wizards break longest division title streak in North American pro sports by winning Southeast

With their win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, the Washington Wizards accomplished something they hadn't since the days of disco. For the first time in 38 years, since the 1978-79 season, the Wizards can call themselves division champions.

The Wizards edged out the Hawks to win the Southeast Division and in doing so broke through the longest division title streak in all of North American professional sports. No team had gone longer without one in the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, WNBA or MLS.

The closest to their streak was the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, who now own the distinction at 30 years, having not won one since the 1986-87 season. The New York Islanders are just one year behind them with their last division title coming in 1987-88.

For the NFL, it's the Cleveland Browns who have waited the longest, 28 years since 1989. And in Major League Baseball it's the Pittsburgh Pirates, who haven't won since 1992, a span of 25 years.

The Wizards are not just having their best season since the 1970s in terms of division standings. Right now they are on pace to eclipse 50 wins. They have not done won more than 46 games since 1978-79.

In fact, the Wizards have the longest drought of 50 win seasons in the NBA. Here is the list, courtesy of Elias Sports:

Washington Wizards      1978-1979
Charlotte Hornets           1997-1998
Milwaukee Bucks           2000-2001
Philadelphia 76ers          2000-2001
Brooklyn Nets                2001-2002

The 1978-79 season was also the last time the Wizards advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. This year they have a chance to get there after losing in the second round twice in the last three years.

No D.C. major sports team (Wizards, Capitals, Redskins, Nationals) has made it to the semifinals of their league since the Capitals were swept in the Stanley Cup Finals following the 1997-98 season.

Could this be the year those other streaks fall? The Wizards already have major one down.

[RELATED: Wizards make uniform change for playoffs]

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Wizards coach Scott Brooks issues strong defense of John Wall after win over Clippers

Wizards coach Scott Brooks issues strong defense of John Wall after win over Clippers

After his team showed resilience in erasing a 24-point lead to beat the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night, head coach Scott Brooks swept aside an opportunity to fire back at critics of himself and his team following a barrage of negative headlines in recent days.

Brooks did, however, take the time to address one particular angle of the whole mess. He issued a passionate defense of his star point guard, John Wall, who has been at the center of the controversies surrounding the organization.

Brooks and Wall had an altercation last week during practice that led to Wall receiving a fine from the team. Brooks spoke at length about the incident itself at shootaround. After Tuesday's win, he honed in on a specific criticism of Wall, that he is out of shape and not giving an honest effort on the floor.

"John, he's been taking hits. Let's face it," Brooks said. "You hear all the reports that he's heavy. The guy has seven percent body fat..."

"He's in great shape. I like the way he plays. He plays hard."

Brooks went on to point out how Wall hasn't been playing at 100 percent for much of this season. Wall has dealt with a deep thigh bruise and it's partly to explain for the Wizards' 6-11 start.

The overall numbers look about how they should for Wall.

He's averaging 21.5 points, 7.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.2 blocks while shooting 44.4 percent from the field. But his defense has been lacking and he's not getting the assists he usually collects because he hasn't had the same burst in transition.

Playing through injuries is always tricky for professional athletes. When people know they're hurt, that effort is often appreciated. But when the injuries aren't disclosed, fans and members of the media can only draw conclusions based on what they see.

Brooks explained in detail why he thinks Wall should be cut some slack for his start to the season.

"He's a warrior. There's a lot of guys that I've seen in my playing career that they love to sit out. They're just talented and they've got talented contracts. They sit out and you can't do anything about it. You admire and you appreciate and you celebrate the guys that play hard. You don't have to tell the world that he's banged up," Brooks said.

"He didn't say one word and I wasn't gonna say it. It's over. He's feeling great. He's fought. He's not gonna tell the world 'look at me, I'm sore.' He doesn't want your sympathy. He just fights and he plays the right way. He plays hard."

Brooks is clearly trying to stick up for his star player and change the current media narrative.

As long as the Wizards win, that shouldn't be hard to do.


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Emotional John Wall opens up about trade rumors, coming arrival of son after comeback win

Emotional John Wall opens up about trade rumors, coming arrival of son after comeback win

The subject of trade rumors and reports of in-fighting at Wizards practice over the past few days, John Wall proved his worth to the Wizards on the court Tuesday night. 

Washington trailed the Clippers by as many as 24 points, but Wall helped orchestrate a furious comeback which concluded in a 125-118 Washington win. Wall led all scorers with 30 points and dished out eight assists. 

After the game, Wall opened up to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller about the cloud of controversy which has surrounded the Wizards this week, as well as a far more serious matter in his personal life: he's gonna be a dad soon!

"It's amazing, man. All the heart and effort and drive I've had for this organization, this team, to hear certain things like being traded, I try to stay focused," he told Miller. "Focused on getting ready to have my new son, trying to turn this organization around, this franchise around and win some games."

"All it is is go out there and compete, dog. All of us go out here and compete, that's one thing I always did since day one is give everything I got. And to hear those type of things, it's kind of funny. It's frustrating at the same time, but I've been through worse things. I just stand over top of all that."

And as his coach, Scott Brooks, has been preaching over the last few weeks, Wall believes the only way the Wizards turn around their season is if they show one thing: effort. 

"It's just about effort, man. Effort and heart," he said. "I've been preaching that since I've been here from day one, and in the second half we gave a lot of effort and heart. That's why we came back and fought hard, and got a great win that we needed."

"In the first half, we didn't play with no energy, no sense of urgency, and they beat the brakes off of us. We got to find a way to dig deep, and we made some big shots and got some big stops."

"It's not where we want to be, it's not where we started. Dealing with injuries, dealing with those type of things, you make no excuses. Whoever step between these lines, you go out there and compete, and that's all I ask for the14 guys, including myself, is to go play hard.

It's far too early to declare it as such, but if the Wizards can build off of Tuesday's performance, it may very well be looked at as the night Wall and Washington turned their season around.