Over the years the Wizards have tried several different venues for their annual training camps.
Who can forget Michael Jordans return to the University of North Carolina as a Wizard back in 2001? Or the annual weeklong training camps in Richmond?
For the second time in three years, the Wizards are making George Mason University their early October home. For the next six days, when they are not pounding the Patriot Center hardwood with two-a-day practices, the Wizards can be seen hanging around their nearby hotel and eating in Fairfaxs finest restaurants.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who began his NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks in 1983, says its the perfect setting for a team with eight new players -- forwards Trevor Ariza, Earl Barron, Shavlik Randolph, guards Jannero Pargo, Bradley Beal, A.J. Price, Steven Gray and Martell Webster, and center Emeka Okafor.
Im old school, Wittman said Wednesday after running his players through a 2-hour, 10-minute morning session. We lived in dorms back in those days instead of nice hotels. No room service and we had a roommate.
Coming here is great because we dont have to get on an airplane or drive three hours somewhere. Its far enough away where we have total concentration on one thing and thats camp.
Second-year forward Chris Singleton laughed at the suggestion the Wizards are getting way from it all in northern Virginia.
This is away from everything? he asked. Were 15 minutes away. If you know people, you can get out of here. Wittman has given us freedom. But we eat together, train together, its good. The chemistry is a lot better than last year. Everybody loves it.
Pargo, who was signed on Monday as a temporary replacement for John Wall, said hes happy to get the chance to meet his new teammates in a college-type setting.
Guys want to get together and hang out in their rooms, play games and just get to know each other on a personal level, he said. I think its very important. When you build that friendship and that camaraderie it shows out there on the court. If my guy gets beat, thats my guy and Im going to be there for him and I want him to be there for me.
That camaraderie is something Singleton says was missing last year and in the early part of the season the disconnect showed. The Wizards opened the season by losing 15 of their first 17 games.
Last year, at the beginning of camp, more people were out for numbers, Singleton said. This season, we want to win. We want to try to get people into the Verizon Center. I think were really gelling together. Were actually hanging out together off the court. And youll see us together all the time in the community.