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Wizards are on cusp of breaking longest division-winning drought in U.S. sports

Wizards are on cusp of breaking longest division-winning drought in U.S. sports

With one more win by the Wizards, or one more loss by the Atlanta Hawks, Washington will do something it hasn't done in nearly four decades time.

The Wizards will clinch the franchise's first division title since the 1978-79 season. At 38 years, not only is that the longest drought of all NBA teams, but it's the longest such streak of any team in U.S. professional sports. No one has waited longer in the NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB, and both the WNBA and MLS were not formed until the 1990s.

The L.A. Clippers previously held that distinction until they won the Pacific Division in the 2012-13 season after a 42-year wait. They repeated to win it the next year, as well. When the Warriors won the Pacific Division in 2014-15, that broke a 39-year drought. 

The Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL were recently just behind the Wizards in their quest. They began as a franchise in the 1979-80 season and didn't win one until they took the Pacific Division in 2011-12 after waiting 32 years. The longest current drought in the NHL is the Edmonton Oilers, who last won in 1986-87, 30 years ago. They are actually just two points out of first this season in the Pacific Division with seven games to go.

The longest division championship drought in the NFL is the Cleveland Browns, who won 28 years ago in 1989. In MLB, the longest division drought is held by the Pirates at 25 years.

So, here are the Wizards who now just need to eliminate the Hawks to win the Southeast Division and break through a decades-long wait. At 45-28 on the season, the Wizards need just one win or one loss for Atlanta to clinch, given Washington holds the tiebreaker with a 3-1 head-to-head record this season. The Wizards play at the Lakers at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday night [CSN+], while the Hawks host the Suns at 7:30 p.m. in Atlanta.

The Hawks have lost seven straight, the Wizards have won three in a row and there are nine games left for both teams. It almost certainly will happen and happen soon.

The question is: when it does happen, how will it be celebrated? It will break the longest division-winning drought in U.S. sports, yet NBA division titles don't quite mean what they did just a few years ago.

When the NBA changed their playoff seeding procedure in September of 2015 they ensured that the top two teams in the conference by record could not meet in the second round. That was possible under the old format, when winning one's division meant an automatic top four seed. 

But that change has since made winning an NBA division less consequential. A division championship does technically equal a tiebreaker for the eighth and final playoff spot, but only in rare instances where that is necessary. Aside from a banner in the rafters of an arena, division titles just don't carry the same weight that they used to.

All that puts what the Wizards are poised to accomplish in a peculiar category. If, or when, the Wizards win the Southeast Division, what will it truly mean?

It should mean a lot. Thirty eight years is a long, long time.

[RELATED: Wizards' Markieff Morris fine with NBA players resting]

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Tyler Perry surprises Wizards in their Chicago hotel to compare heights

Tyler Perry surprises Wizards in their Chicago hotel to compare heights

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you put Tyler Perry in a room with a bunch of NBA players? If so, we have the answer. 

During the Wizards' road trip to Chicago in January, the famous actor/producer/writer surprised several players in their hotel room and compared heights with them the whole time. 

Perry, who's used to being the tallest in the room at 6'5", was dwarfed by the likes of Thomas Bryant and Johnathan Williams. 

"I ain't ever been in a room where I'm the short guy," Perry said as he greeted all the players. 

There were a couple of players who Perry had the height advantage on. Bradley Beal admitted he was shorter than Perry during the video, while Perry didn't have a doubt he was taller than Gary Payton II. 

"Oh, you're short," Perry joked after Payton revealed his height. 

You can find more of this kind of inside access into the Wizards' trip to Chicago, where the "Wire-to-Wire" special will air on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Ish Smith, Moe Wagner and Scott Brooks will be mic'd up and featured throughout a condensed version of the Wizards' loss to the Bulls in mid-January. 

"The thing is, you look at celebrities as celebrities, but they look at our players as celebrities," Brooks said. "But you could tell that [Perry], he had their attention. Not a lot of times our guys are willing to wait after our breakfast meeting. But they waited around for him so it was really cool to see that."

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How to watch Wizards vs. Bulls Wire to Wire broadcast

How to watch Wizards vs. Bulls Wire to Wire broadcast

The Wizards head to the Bay Area to take on the Golden State Warriors. Before that, fans can enjoy inside NBA access in the debut of 'NBC Sports Wire to Wire'.

'NBC Sports Wire to Wire' will debut Sunday, Mar. 1, at 6:30 p.m. and feature a one-hour condensed game of the Wizards matchup with the Bulls from mid-January. The twist is players and coaches on both sides were mic'd up during the game. 

Ish Smith, Moe Wagner, and Scott Brooks are featured from the Wizards side, while you'll be able to hear Coby White, coach Jim Boylen and former Wizard Tomas Satoransky as well. The broadcast will deliver a mix of on-court audio and sit-down interviews. 

The Wizards fell to the Bulls 115-106 in the game in question. In a head-to-head matchup between two eventual All-Star snubs, Zach LaVine got the best of Bradley Beal, scoring 30 points on 12-21 shooting to get his team the win. 

If you recall, Beal questioned the Wizards' culture after his team dropped what he called a 'winnable game.' Since then, the Wizards are 7-6 and before the All-Star break, were playing some of their best basketball.

Beal has also been exceptional since Washington's last loss in Chicago, so perhaps there's a bit more insight into what went on that game that one, caused Beal to call out his team after the game, and two, sparked one of the best runs of play for the Wizards all year. 

So remember 6:30 p.m. on Sunday before the Wizards-Warriors game. And if you aren't able to catch it the first time, the special will be re-air later Sunday evening at 11:30 p.m.

Here's everything you need to know to tune into the game Sunday and how to watch the Wire to Wire broadcast afterward. 

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors 

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA

When: Sunday, Mar. 1, 2020, at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Warriors will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Warriors on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Wire to Wire: Wizards vs Bulls

7:30 PM: Wizards Outsiders

8:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

8:30 PM: Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors

11:00 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

11:30 PM: Wire to Wire: Wizards @ Bulls

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS INJURY REPORT

Wizards: John Wall (OUT/Achilles), Thomas Bryant (OUT/foot)

Warriors: Marquese Chriss (Day-to-day/calf), Draymond Green (Day-to-day/hip), Steph Curry (Day-to-day/hand), Klay Thompson (OUT/knee)

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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