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Elena Delle Donne is still blown away by her stardom after viral video at WNBA All-Star game

Elena Delle Donne is still blown away by her stardom after viral video at WNBA All-Star game

At the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game Elena Delle Donne was the center of attention. Attention not from her play on the court, or for a team being named after her, but rather what she continues to do for her fans.

Before the showcase game, the Washington Mystics guard/forward had a special moment with a young fan. Moments that many have seen before, but never get old and tug at the heartstrings. It is rare though to see the genuine joy that Delle Donne displayed when she ripped off the fan's blindfold.

The fan, Shai Norwood, is in remission from lymphoma – cancer that develops in the body’s germ-fighting network. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Norwood’s wish of meeting Delle Donne and getting her shoes signed came true. 

Norwood believed that her job was to find the Las Vegas mascot, Buckets out on the basketball floor. As a part of the plan, Delle Donne jumped in front of the mascot generating a priceless memory for both her and the fan.

“It was a really special moment,” Delle Donne told NBC Sports Washington. “By far the best moment I’ve ever had in any All-Star [Game] and I don’t think it’ll ever get topped.” 

Events like these are nothing new for the seven-year WNBA veteran. Earlier in the season, a fan traveled 8,000 miles just to see Delle Donne in action. Yet, even playing basketball at the highest level in the United States, Delle Donne still is surprised at her own stardom.

“Moments like that are so humbling and at times shocking to me and like, ‘why do they want to meet me, you know,’” Delle Donne told NBC Sports Washington. “[T]o see me making their day or making their year is something really special and humbling and it means so much to me.”

In the end, it was a weekend that was all about Delle Donne, and rightfully so. A team was named after her. She was named the team’s captain based on a fan vote. Through one half of the season, she is once again in the MVP conversation and carrying the Mystics to one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference. 

No one will remember the results from All-Star game though, or the fact Team Delle Donne lost. These moments are where the memories will be made and will carry the future of the sport.

As for Delle Donne, she better get used to being on this type of stage. 

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Chauncey Billups knows from experience that John Wall will have a dominant return from his Achilles injury

Chauncey Billups knows from experience that John Wall will have a dominant return from his Achilles injury

WASHINGTON -- Turns out there is a familiar refrain when you ask NBA players who recovered from torn Achilles injuries about the rehab process and its biggest challenges. Spurs forward Rudy Gay brought it up, and so did Clippers broadcaster and 17-year NBA veteran Chauncey Billups.

They say it is not just the process of coming back physically. There is a mental hurdle, a very specific one, they had to overcome, and they believe Wizards guard John Wall will have the same experience once he returns to NBA action.

"There's a mental component to it that's really necessary when you're coming back from something like that. You're going to be in that position in which you hurt it 50 to 60 to 70 times in one night. You have to get over that," Billups told NBC Sports Washington.

"You think about it. You think about it all the time. You have to just trust in the work you put in, you have to trust in the science and just know you can't continue to think about it because if you do, you're not going to play your game. It's easier said than done, it really is."

It makes sense. Most injuries in basketball are suffered while running, cutting or jumping. Though Wall technically tore his Achilles while falling in his house, the tendon is going to be tested over and over by every move he makes on the basketball court.

Billups said getting over that can take a long time. He suffered his Achilles tear in 2012 and was back playing in an NBA game 296 days later.

But it took much longer than that to truly get to 100 percent.

"One thing I noticed is that when I came back, I came back at [10 1/2] months. But it took me probably another 10 or 11 months to really feel like myself. I don't think that will happen with John [because] he's a lot younger and his body probably heals a lot quicker than mine did," Billups said.

Billups said his lateral movement and jumping ability were affected the most. Lateral movement is particularly important on defense, especially for a point guard who has to stay in front of some of the quickest athletes on the planet.

As for jumping ability, Wall may have an advantage as he tore his left Achilles and has always been a much better leaper off his right leg. It's why most of his dunks are thrown down using his left hand.

Given Wall was seven years younger than Billups when they suffered their injuries, Billups believes Wall is likely to get most, if not all, of his athleticism back. But he also sees a way Wall can change his game to remain effective even if he never regains his trademark speed.

"I think that John could be a very good post-up type of point guard [because] he's such a good passer and facilitator," Billups said.

"A point guard being down there and being able to pass out of the post, it's tough. Teams don't work on that. I think that's a weapon he can add, especially as he gets older. Naturally, he will slow down and his athleticism will diminish as he gets a lot older, but he can be just as effective if he can develop that," he added.

Just like Wall, Billups tore his Achilles in February. He was back playing in games by late November, so Wall has already taken longer than he did to return. The Wizards have even indicated Wall could miss all of this season due to the injury. And if he returned next year, he would end up taking about 20 months to recover.

Having been through the process himself, Billups can speak to how difficult that could end up being for Wall, to just sit out and wait patiently even if he at some point knows he can play.

"That's tough to do when you're a competitor," Billups said. "You miss the game that you love so much. It's my first love. You have an opportunity to feel like you're back after all the work that you put in, man. To feel like I can get out here and help my guys who are struggling? They're doubling Bradley Beal and they've got a young guy [in Rui Hachimura] showing some promise, it's tough to just kind of sit that out and wait and say 'when's the right time?'"

The Wizards appear intent on giving Wall extra time to heal and, it should be noted, they have a major financial investment in his future. This is the first season of his four-year, $170 million supermax contract. It might be worth punting on the first year if it ensures they get something out of the final three.

Whenever he does return, Billups has high hopes for the five-time All-Star.

"I have no doubt that John Wall is going to come back and be dominant," Billups said.

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Davis Bertans' incredible start to the season, by the numbers

Davis Bertans' incredible start to the season, by the numbers

Davis Bertans was on fire once again on Tuesday night in the Wizards' loss to the Charlotte Hornets, as the Latvian Laser continues his breakout season in Washington hitting threes at a historic rate. Here are some numbers to put what he is doing in perspective...

32

Bertans had 32 points in Tuesday's game, the ninth time he has scored 20 or more already this season. He had scored 20-plus points only three times previously in his career.

6

Bertans has made six or more threes in a game six times already this season, including four times this month. Before he joined the Wizards, he had done it twice as an NBA player.

8

Bertans is one of only seven players in Wizards/Bullets franchise history to make eight threes or more in a game. The others are Gilbert Arenas, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rex Chapman and DeShawn Stevenson. Only Beal (nine) and Ariza (10) have made more than eight.

92

Bertans has made 92 threes through 23 games this season. The ony players who have made more through this point in NBA history are James Harden and Stephen Curry. The previous high for a Wizards/Bullets player was 72 (Arenas).

328

The 92 threes in 23 games has Bertans averaging four per game and on pace to make 328 on the season. Only two players have ever made 300-plus threes; Harden and Curry. The record is 402, by Curry in 2015-16.

4

Bertans has made four threes or more in six straight games and five or more in four straight. Both are franchise records. During this six-game stretch, Bertans is 36-for-71 (50.7%) from long range.

9.6

Bertans is making most of his threes on catch-and-shoot plays and leads the league in most related categories. He is tops in the NBA in points off catch-and-shoot plays (9.6/g), field goals made (3.2/g) and three-pointers made (3.1).

70.8

A whopping 70.8 percent of Bertans' shot attempts this season have come from three-point range. The next highest percentage for a Wizards player is 34.6 percent, by Moe Wagner.

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