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Wizards, Caps, Mystics preparing to be first to use virtual reality

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Wizards, Caps, Mystics preparing to be first to use virtual reality

As a longtime executive in the technology industry, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is what some would call an early-adopter. So it's no surprise to see his face light up when asked about the Wizards' plans to use virtual reality, a system that he believes will revolutionize not only sports and how players are developed, but also training across other businesses.

Leonsis took some time to explain the new technology on Wednesday at the team's press conference to introduce their new practice facility in Southeast D.C.'s Ward 8. The complex will include a room dedicated to the cutting edge training method. That will help allow the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics to be the first in their respective leagues to use the system.

"You can't explain it until you put it on," he said. "I'm sure virtual reality is going to be the biggest change in training in business. When you read something, you retain 20 to 25 percent. When you read and hear something, 30 to 35 percent. When you read and hear and see, it's over 50 percent. When you interact, when you see, hear and read, it's like 70 percent. We think virtual reality is going to get you into the 90 percent potentially. So, imagine you're a rookie player and you've played one year of college ball and now you've come into a team and they give you a playbook. It's mind-blowing."

The Wizards are working with Stanford University where the program called STRIVR was developed. Associates from the school were in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with Leonsis and others about implementing the program for the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics.

He explained how the two sides are working together to get it installed.

"It is a really remarkable thing. It's a series of cameras like a tripod. It's like a dozen cameras that shoot a 360-degree view. You shoot it and then you send it digitally to Stanford University and they do their magic on it. Then they ship it back and it goes into this hard drive that loads into these oculus headsets."

Leonsis was given a demonstration recently and described being in different virtual situations. In one he was thrown an inbound pass at the top of the key with 15 seconds on the clock. In another he was on defense.

"It feels like it's in your face. The demos were remarkable, teaching someone how to draw a charge. You put it on and you've got it stop when you see the guy coming to take the layup," he said.

The Wizards are hoping to gain an edge with the technology that will put them ahead of the curve. According to STRIVR's website, they have already worked with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings in the NFL.

"Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys were the first team to do it," Leonsis said. "I was watching the game on Sunday night and the announcer said 'gosh, Tony Romo is seeing the field better than I've ever seen him play.' He put that on and said to Jerry Jones 'you gotta get this.'"

Reviews from those who have used it in professional and college football say it's a game-changer. Leonsis hopes his teams can enjoy the same impact in their respective leagues.

"I'm very, very excited about it," he said.

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‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

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Capital City Go-Go

‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

The Washington Wizards G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, held their second open local player tryouts at the Entertainment and Sports Arena Saturday morning in Southeast D.C.

Over 100 hopefuls filed into the arena with plans to impress Go-Go General Manager, Pop Mensah-Bonsu, head coach Ryan Richman, and his staff. 

Although each player in attendance has a unique path that’s led them here, they all shared one simple, yet intricate goal:

One shot in the G League. 

Adam Stanford, a prospect from California, traveled on a red eye to make the tryout on a less-than-ideal amount of sleep.

“My plane left at midnight from LAX, I had a two-hour layover in Denver, made it to Reagan National at five, checked into my hotel at six, took an hour nap and then Ubered here for tryouts,”  he said. 

“If I made this team it’d be big. Not just for me but for everyone who knows what I’ve been through from college to now.” 

Stanford is a 6-foot-4 wing from Campbellsville University, where he averaged 7 points, 5 rebounds, and was an academic All-American. 

Even with his positive outlook on the process, and an impressive showing Saturday morning, Stanford’s name wasn’t called for a follow-up workout later in the afternoon. 

The harsh reality that your chances are extremely slim to make a G League roster from an open tryout can be a tough pill to swallow, but as a guy who’s been on the opposite end of the chopping block, Mensah-Bonsu had an immense amount of respect for those who showed up to compete Saturday.

“Personally it’s tough because I never wanted to be that guy to read out the numbers of those who did make the team, and skip over those who didn’t,” Mensah-Bonsu said, “it’s heartbreaking. We always anticipate what the DMV has to offer in terms of the wealth of talent in this area.

"I was pleasantly surprised because we ended up selecting 15 guys to stick around for the afternoon portion, but going into this we were only planning to pick five.” 

Those who made the cut won’t be announced until a later date, which leaves the larger point of how those who were passed on respond?

The all-time leading scorer in Peach Sun Belt Conference history, Detrek Browning, was in attendance Saturday and put on a show. His combination of quickness, deep range shooting ability, and a knack for loose balls/putbacks captured the attention of every media member in attendance. 

However, his name wasn’t called for the next round of tryouts. 

Still, in a state of shock, he delivered words of encouragement not just for his self, but others to turn to after a similar letdown. 

“I for sure thought I was going to get a place here, but you just gotta focus and move on,” Browning said. “I quit my job in June to focus on basketball and it’s been paying off. I’ve seen my game increase exponentially.

“I did my best and that’s what matters,” he added. “I appreciate them not picking me up, it’s just going to make me work even harder.”

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Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Most MVP award winners thank coaches, parents and anyone who helped them become great. Elena Delle Donne is not most people.

The Washington Mystic's superstar forward had a lot to be thankful for after receiving the second MVP honors of her career, creating a long list on Twitter. Some injury-preventing accessory manufacturers made their way high up on her list.

Delle Donne became the first woman player to shoot 50/40/90 splits over the course of an entire WNBA season this year, but she was perhaps more grateful for the apparrel that allowed her to stay on the court: her knee brace and face mask. 

The Delaware native often deflects praise onto her teammates and coaches when receiving accolades, but when EDD's knee is being held together by her bulky brace and her nose is feeling protected after a fracture earlier in the season, they definitely deserve the thanks. 

She had a gruesome knee scare in a Game 2 loss to the Atlanta Dream in the playoffs last season, and even missed some early season games this year in recovery. Still, Delle Donne wouldn't let her knee keep her out of action, as her 31 regular season starts were the most games she's played since 2015. It's been evident she's had an edge all season to help her Washington Mystics get back to the Finals, and this time finish the job. 

Delle Donne's face mask has also been somewhat of a fashion trend in recent weeks with star athletes around the District. Wizards all-star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal along with Redskins runing back Derrius Guice, all wore the face masks in solidarity when they came to support the Mystics at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. 

Despite Delle Donne's nose having been fully recovered, she's kept the face mask on during games for style and reassurance. Considering these ailments, it's impressive Delle Donne's shooting touch not only hasn't been affected, but instead has improved. 

After a Game 2 win over the Las Vegas Aces, Delle Donne and Co. have the opportunity to make their season mantra come true and #RunItBack to a second straight WNBA Finals appearance. 

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