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How the Wizards came up with the name Capital City Go-Go for their G-League affiliate

How the Wizards came up with the name Capital City Go-Go for their G-League affiliate

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and those at Monumental Sports and Entertainment had an important goal in mind when they set out to create the name and branding around their G-League franchise, set for the 2018-19 season.

They wanted something that would connect with the city of Washington and those who don't just live here, but are from here.

In their deliberations and research, one name continued to emerge with a nice ring to it: the Go-Go, a reference to a genre of music that was born and bred in Washington, D.C. decades ago.

It combines funk with R&B, is heavy on off-beat percussion and is often played late on weekend nights by local radio stations. 

The Wizards first went out and talked to Wizards fans, many of which suggested Go-Go as the name. Roger Mody, a co-owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, received the same suggestion from a good friend in a text. He showed the message to Leonsis who took it as another sign that Go-Go was a good idea.

Before settling on the name, the Wizards wanted to make sure those who live in and around Ward 8, where the Wizards are building a brand new practice facility that will be home to the G-League team, were down with the Go-Go name. 

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"It just was a name that we wanted to be respectful [with]. We went into the community and asked fans, asked people who would be our neighbors, did they think this was an appropriate homage to music that we kind of grew up with, music that we felt good about," Leonsis said.

The reaction was positive and that helped bolster a feeling Leonsis already had about the music itself. The Wizards have held go-go nights over the years and Leonsis has been impressed with the reaction from fans.

"The bongo sound, the percussion sound is very, very natural to our city," Leonsis said.

On Friday, Dec. 1, Capital City Go-Go became the official name of the Wizards' NBA G-League team, as Leonsis and D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Go-Go Night at Capital One Arena.

Any fan of go-go music can tell you that Chuck Brown is the 'Godfather of Go-Go.' He rose to fame in the 1960s and 70s and remained a local legend until his death in 2012.

Leonsis saw Brown's impact over the years in his music and his personality. The Wizards have been in contact with Brown's family throughout the team-naming process.

"I remember the first year I bought the Wizards and moved into the office here, looking out my window and just seeing Chuck walk the streets," Leonsis said. 

"He was just the coolest, just the coolest looking guy. I remember he had this great black hat on and the way he strode up the street, everyone running around him and giving him a handshake. It just feels right for us and I feel like the city will bond with it."

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Leonsis can speak to go-go's place in Washington, however, most of the Wizards players cannot, as none of them are from the city. Several shared their reaction to the name and their thoughts on go-go on Friday night after the announcement was made.

"I'm not a fan of go-go," guard Bradley Beal said. "I'm not from D.C. Some is all right. I listen to a few [songs]. My boy Quinn Cook used to put me in go-go all the time. It's some stuff I can listen to and some I just can't get down with. For the most part, I'm in D.C. now so I guess I have to adapt to it."

"I don't even know any of [the songs]," forward Markieff Morris said. "It's funny, but I'm rolling with it. D.C. is all about go-go, so it is what it is."

For those who aren't familiar with go-go, it may take some getting used to, like any new team name. For those who are familiar with go-go, the team will be a nice tribute to a pillar of D.C. culture.

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John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

The Wizards in recent years have made a habit of trying to speak things into existence and then not having them actually come into existence. They have talked the talk and then sometimes haven't walked the walk.

A few instances come to mind, including Bradley Beal saying of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers that "they didn't want to see us" in the playoffs. Beal also said in November that the Washington was the best team in the East, just hours before James scored 57 points in the Wizards' building.

John Wall has made similar proclamations in the past, usually about himself, including how he is the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Now, these statements were all relatively normal for professional athletes who pride themselves in always feeling like they are the best player on the floor or the field. It's part of the mindset that makes them who they are.

But when those statements are made and then not backed up, they can be tough to defend, and especially for a Wizards team which last season seemed to overlook the lesser teams and suffered a down year because of it.

Wall insists all that is about to change. In his 1-on-1 interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall said the message this year will be much different, much more muted than it has been in the past.

"We want to go out with a different mindset and a different focus. We're not trying to go in and think we're a team that has already established something and got respect from people. We have to earn that respect and that means going out and competing every night against the good teams or the bad teams," he said.

That doesn't mean Wall isn't confident. His belief in himself hasn't wavered and, in fact, he may believe in his team more now than ever. That's because he is happy with the offseason the front office has produced.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green in free agency, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. All should help the Wizards improve between Howard representing an upgrade at starting center and the others providing much-needed depth.

When Wall was asked by Chris if this is the most complete team he has played with in Washington, Wall left no doubts.

"Yeah, for sure. I definitely think so," he said. "I think it gives us the opportunity where we don't have to play as many minutes. That's the key. At the end of the year, you kind of fall short because you're fatigued. Nobody uses that as an excuse. You play and try to get into the best shape possible. But if you're playing 24 minutes, the whole half, and then 24 minutes and the whole half, you kind of get tired at some point. I think those guys can take a little of the burden and pressure off of us at times."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

When asked at his introductory press conference for how he will fit on the Wizards' roster from a basketball perspective, guard Austin Rivers didn't first cite his three-point shooting, his ability to affect games scoring off the bench or his speed to run the floor with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The first thing he point to was his defense.

That may have surprised some people out there as Rivers has long been known for his scoring ability and not so much his skills on the other end. It's not that he can't play defense, it's just that most of the highlights he's produced over the years have been due to his high-flying finishes at the rim and wicked pull-up jumper from three-point range.

Defense, though, is something Rivers takes pride in and he hopes to continue developing as a defender in Washington.

"With how much Brad and John have to do every night, for them to not have to always guard the best guard on the other team, that's something I can come in here and do. Try to bring that competitive spirit and be one of the defenders on the team," Rivers said.

Rivers' defensive ability has produced some controversy among Wizards fans and media members on social media. Some insist he does not bring value on that end of the floor, while some numbers suggest he does have some defensive potential.

Last season, Rivers averaged a career-high 1.2 steals per game. He was tied for fifth on the Clippers in defensive win shares.

However, his 113 defensive rating was his worst since 2013-14. It was an outlier on the Clippers and not in the good way. He also ranked nowhere near the top of the league in deflections or contested three-point shots, two hustle stats that guys like Wall and Beal fair well in.

Rivers points to two attributes that he believes make him a strong perimeter defender. One is his versatility and the other you could call scrappiness.

"On defense [the Wizards] can switch one through three or one through four. I think that gives us a lot of dangerous options," he said.

As for his scrappiness, Rivers says it comes from the early days of his career.

"I had to figure out ways to be effective without [a jumpshot] and that's how I became a defender. I guess everything happens for a reason, right? I'm happy I did have those early career struggles because it made me find a side of me that I didn't do [early on]. Because I promise you I didn't play any defense at Duke," he said.

The last line drew laughter from those gathered at his introductory press conference. Rivers insists that he now takes that end of the floor very seriously. The Wizards certainly hope he can back up his words.

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