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Caps winning, new practice facility has Ted Leonsis thinking bigger for Wizards: 'No excuses'

Caps winning, new practice facility has Ted Leonsis thinking bigger for Wizards: 'No excuses'

No matter what happens this fall and winter, the year of 2018 was a big one for Monumental Sports & Entertainment owner Ted Leonsis.

The Capitals won their first-ever Stanley Cup and the new practice facility and arena for the Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go in Ward 8 was opened.

Even the Valor won the Arena Football League in 2018, and Wizards District Gaming played its inaugural season.

The Caps winning and the St. Elizabeth East Entertainment and Sports Arena opening its doors has Leonsis thinking bigger and particularly when it comes to the Wizards. As he puts it, there are "no excuses" anymore. It's time to accomplish their goals and Leonsis has some specific ones in mind.

"We need to raise the expectations. We have to make the playoffs. I'd like us to win 50 games. I'd like us to go to the Eastern Conference Finals," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington.

Leonsis, in many ways, feels like he has done his part as the owner. He has given the Wizards the resources to compete and win at the highest level. They have the salary commitment - the Wizards are fourth in the NBA in payroll ($134.9M) - and the facilities that any team in the NBA would covet.

"We have one of the highest payrolls in the league with the Wizards. They have a beautiful, world-class practice facility. They're healthy entering the year," he said. "Alright Wizards. If you have this practice facility and one of the highest payrolls in the league and you're getting well-tended for your health, nutrition and the like; no excuses. Let's play ball."

When it comes to the practice facility, it's much more than just added space, new locker rooms and shiny courts. The Wizards will have at their disposal the newest training technology and all the medical resources they need from Medstar. 

The facility has a virtual reality room, which goes way beyond the headsets and cameras they have utilized in recent years. They will also have a sensory deprivation tank. 

It's a pod that fills with salt water and allows people to float without light or sound. The benefits include decompression of the spine, alleviation of soreness and muscle tension and stress relief. In case you are wondering, they aren't cheap.

The weight room at the Medstar performance center is also calibrated for different exercises and methods. And with more space, the Wizards can continue to move into the future from a technology perspective and stay ahead of the curve.

"It's not just being an early-adopter. If you make an investment in this size and scale, you'll be at an advantage because you can build in and not add on a lot of that right into the utility of the building," Leonsis said.

In having this type of facility for the Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go, Leonsis hopes those teams can follow the model that worked for the Capitals. The Caps have had a specialized training facility in Ballston, Va. for years and have benefitted from a strong minor league system, most notably with the Hershey Bears. That top-to-bottom approach can help the Wizards, in particular, as they now have a G-League affiliate.

The foundation is in place for the Wizards to someday compete for an NBA championship. Many never expected to see the day the Capitals would reach the mountaintop. Now the Wizards can follow the blueprint.

"We've proven that there is no [D.C. sports] curse," Leonsis said. "If you are patient and work hard and are committed to continuous improvement than you can win a championship."

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Report: Los Angeles deputies shared Kobe Bryant crash photos

Report: Los Angeles deputies shared Kobe Bryant crash photos

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Authorities are investigating whether deputies shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash scene where Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed, according to a newspaper report.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a public safety source with knowledge of the events had seen one of the photos on the phone of another official in a setting that was not related to the investigation of the crash. He said the photos showed the scene and victims' remains.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the allegations.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Maria Lucero told The Associated Press on Friday that "the matter is being looked into."

The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union that represents rank-and-file deputies, did not immediately return requests for comment.

The Times reported that it's unclear how widely the photos might have been disseminated and who was involved. It's additionally unclear whether the deputies had taken the photos themselves or received them from someone else.

Capt. Jorge Valdez, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, said the department had contacted the victims' families because of the newspaper's inquiries.

Bryant and the others were killed in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash northwest of Los Angeles were traveling to a youth basketball tournament at Bryant's sports facility in Thousand Oaks. The cause of the crash is undetermined.

Bryant and his daughter Gianna, whose team was coached by her father, were honored at a public memorial Monday at Staples Center, where Bryant starred for most of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

A report by the National Transportation Safety Board stated there weren't any signs of engine failure from the wreckage recovered from the crash site. The pilot, Ara Zobayan, had nearly navigated the helicopter out of blinding clouds when it turned and plunged into the mountainside.

Bryant's widow, Vanessa, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday, alleging that Zobayan was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions and should have aborted the flight. The lawsuit names Island Express Helicopters Inc., operator of the service, and Island Express Holding Corp., owner of the craft. It also targets pilot Ara Zobayan's representative or successor, listed only as "Doe 1" until a name can be determined.

Also killed in the crash were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who helped Bryant coach the girls' basketball team; and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton. Keri and Payton were Gianna's teammates.

 

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Mic'd up: Tyler Perry surprises Wizards in Chicago hotel

Mic'd up: Tyler Perry surprises Wizards in Chicago hotel

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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