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'I guess God is telling me something': John Wall in good spirits as he begins long recovery from Achilles surgery

'I guess God is telling me something': John Wall in good spirits as he begins long recovery from Achilles surgery

WASHINGTON – Were it not for a boot around his left leg and a scooter to rest it on, one fitted with handlebars and a braking system, there were no discernible differences in John Wall as he rolled through the Wizards locker room on Friday night to address reporters for the first time since news he is due for surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

He was his usual, cheery self, smiling as he messed with teammate Jordan McRae by trying to knock a container of food out of his hand. Before he even turned to speak with the media, Wall showed his spirits were high.

That will naturally be a goal for Wall as he embarks on a recovery that could last well into next season. He is due for surgery on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. in Green Bay, WI. From there he is expected to miss 11 to 15 months, making it at least a possibility he misses all of the 2019-20 campaign.

Wall plans to be defiantly positive, knowing some tough days are ahead.

“I’m chilling and enjoying myself. Just a minor setback for an extra couple of months. Nothing to dwell on,” he said.

Wall, 28, has already taken a glass half-full approach. Though his left Achilles was possibly torn due to a fall in the bathroom, he believes it is better to have happened now than in four to five months. He could have missed the better part of two years had he suffered the rupture later in his original rehab from the left heel surgery he had on Jan. 8.

The new recovery timeline will ensure Wall will most of next season. That means he will have missed at least half of three straight years, his age 27, 28 and 29 seasons.

Wall, though, again wants to take the positive outlook. Maybe this latest injury is merely a sign for how he should treat his body in the future.

“I guess God is telling me something: Sit down and get yourself fully healthy,” he said. “I've played through injuries my whole career. I know a lot of people played through injuries and probably don't sit down. That's one thing I don't like to do. If it's something that's nagging or not broke, I want to play. I guess it kind of caught up to me,”

Wall will have plenty of time to get introspective in the coming months. He plans to hang out more with his infant son, Ace, and his mother, Frances, who is battling cancer.

Wall also plans to finish school. He has been taking classes on and off to finish his degree at the University of Kentucky and believes he may be able to get the necessary credits during his time away from the court.

Wall plans to attack his rehab like he has with other surgeries in the past. And he plans to shut up some of his detractors along the way.

Wall loves to use slights by the media and fans as motivation. So, naturally, he brought up unprompted some criticism he has received.

“All the people that talk negative like, 'you can't come back from it, you not this, you not that...' That will do nothing but motivate me even more. The same people when I was on top, you was respecting me and loving me,” he said.

Wall sat on the bench as the Wizards took out the Cavs on Wednesday in their first game since the 2019 NBA trade deadline. The team debuted three new players – Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wes Johnson – who helped them earn the victory.

During the first quarter, Wall was shown on the big screen following a montage of his highlights and his charity work in D.C. Wall raised his hand as fans gave him a resounding applause.

That support, Wall says, will be kept in mind as he moves through the arduous road ahead.

“This whole organization, this city period, from Day 1, they embraced me. Like I said, this is like a second home to me. As long as I got their support and the organization behind me, I don't care what the outside world says,” he said.

 

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5 things to know about new Wizards senior vice president Sashi Brown

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5 things to know about new Wizards senior vice president Sashi Brown

The Washington Wizards announced Monday that Sashi Brown will be named the new senior vice president for the team.

Here are 5 things to know about Brown...

1. Sashi Brown used to be an executive for the Cleveland Browns.

Yes, you read that correctly. Sashi Brown used to work in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. Prior to working with the Browns, Brown also worked with the Jacksonville Jaguars as their lead counsel. 

2. Brown is a Harvard Law graduate.

Sashi Brown received his law degree from Harvard University in 2002. Brown utilized his Harvard Law degree with the Jaguars and the Browns to advise them in various business making decisions. He will do the same for the Wizards.

3. Brown has D.C. roots.

Brown is no stranger to D.C. Prior to working with the Browns and Jaguars, Brown worked at the Washington, D.C. based law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr. 

4. Brown will be moving from Ohio to D.C.

Sashi Brown currently lives in a suburb outside of Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, Paige and two sons Robeson and Ellison and his daughter, Zora.

5. Brown is only 43 years old.

Sashi Brown is only 43 years old and was featured as a 38-year-old in Sports Business Journal's "Forty under 40" in 2015.

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Wizards show creativity in front office shakeup by hiring Sashi Brown from NFL ranks

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Wizards show creativity in front office shakeup by hiring Sashi Brown from NFL ranks

Now that the pieces are falling into place, the Wizards' months-long process to revamp their front office is beginning to make more sense. The outcome was unexpected, but sensible as the Wizards aim to begin a new era while still holding onto some of their own personnel they see value in.

After allowing Tommy Sheppard to run their offseason with an interim tag, it was only logical to promote him long-term, so that's what they did. Yet, they were still able to bring in a collection of new people to change their direction and vision.

The most notable hiring was of Sashi Brown to serve as a senior vice president. But the Wizards also brought in Daniel Medina to improve their medical program and John Thompson III to assist in player development and wellness.

The Wizards deserve some credit for creativity in the end when at times over the past few months it appeared they lacked it. Reports had them trying to poach from other teams and some of their targets seemed entirely unrealistic. They were criticized for not having their own ideas.

But the Wizards were able to find an intriguing executive in Brown, they just had to look outside of their sport. Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis scanned the other major leagues including the NFL, MLB and in European soccer. He found Brown in the football industry, waiting for his next gig after he was fired as executive vice president of the Cleveland Browns in 2017.

It is an outside-the-box decision by Leonsis that parallels what the Browns did back in 2016 when they overhauled their front office and brought in Paul DePodesta from the New York Mets, fresh off a run to the World Series. DePodesta was a longtime baseball executive, having served in a variety of roles including as the GM of the L.A. Dodgers. Though he played football in college, the NFL was not his expertise.

The jury is still out on whether the Browns were smart in going that direction. They are seen as a team on the rise, but have yet to accomplish anything of significance.

Brown, 43, certainly understands how a professional sports organization should work, having served both with the Browns and the Jaguars. But he is not an experienced basketball executive. That presents some risk and probably some learning on the job.

The latter point is important to consider regarding the timeline Brown's addition. In hindsight, the Wizards had good reason to not install their new executive in the middle the offseason bustle. Brown will have some catching up to do first.

Brown has never run an NBA team before, but what he did with the Browns is extra-interesting as for how it could pertain to the Wizards. Brown was known as a Sam Hinkie-like figure in the NFL because of the extensive teardown he orchestrated in Cleveland. The Browns tanked, got super young and accrued as many draft picks as possible.

Like Hinkie, Brown was fired before his work brought dividends. But will he advise the Wizards to follow a similar path? That would seem to put trading Bradley Beal on the table, though Sheppard and Leonsis are not in favor of such a move at this point.

Leonsis has compiled a collection of smart people to run his franchise, though only time to tell whether they are a good fit together. Now there are more cooks in the kitchen and they come from different backgrounds. It is worth noting, however, that Sheppard himself has football roots, having played at New Mexico State University.

What happens if it doesn't work will be interesting. Is Sheppard's fate tied to Brown in any way? How long is their leash?

What is clear is that Leonsis is adding more resources to the Wizards. Fans will appreciate that. Most will also like their significant push into analytics.

And it will likely be appreciated by many that Leonsis is taking a risk in this hire. The nature of the NBA rewards those who swing big, those who are aggressive. With this new front office dynamic, Leonsis believes the Wizards can be factors in free agency next summer.

According to a person familiar with their plans, the Wizards aim to enter next offseason with the cap room and young assets to acquire major difference makers. They want to add pieces of significance around John Wall and Bradley Beal. Brown will help them make their free agent pitch.

The operational word for the Wizards now is 'reboot' and not 'rebuild.' The Wizards see a path to contention that doesn't require an extended period of lottery picks.

Few things in sports offer guarantees and certainly, front office hirings are included. The Wizards, though, are showing some imagination and could be rewarded for it.

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