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John Wall and Bradley Beal address criticism of their leadership after Stephen A. Smith's comments

John Wall and Bradley Beal address criticism of their leadership after Stephen A. Smith's comments

Somehow J.J. Barea, a point guard for the Dallas Mavericks who has no direct connection to John Wall or Bradley Beal, set off a firestorm of criticism on Tuesday about the leadership of the Wizards' backcourt.

Barea told reporters in Dallas he doesn't think Wizards teammates like Wall and ESPN's Stephen A. Smith then furthered that story by saying both Wall and Beal have detractors within the Wizards' locker room. Smith said that there are teammates talking behind the backs of the Wizards All-Stars.

Once Barea and Smith sounded off, it became a thing. Fans wondered aloud on social media if there were irreparable fractures within the Wizards locker room and if something needed to be done.

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The Wizards, of course, were coming off an embarrassing defeat against the Mavericks and these are the times when people usually pile on. That they did.

Wall and Beal were asked about the criticism following the announcement they both made the 2018 NBA All-Star team by NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. (video above)

"We embrace it. Nobody is more upset than we are in ourselves," Beal said. "The fans, the critics, writers; nobody is as upset as we are. We’re more upset in ourselves that 100 percent of the resposibility falls on our shoulders. We embrace that. We take it. We take it on the chin and we just keep it moving, man. We can’t pout about it or try to argue back with what other people say.

"At the end of the day we agree that we shouldn’t be where we are. But reality is reality, we’ve gotta do a better job at leading and playing, showing up for every game and making sure that our teammates are good to go and make sure that they are pulling their weight just as well as we’re leading."

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"We know what we should be. That’s the most difficult thing for us," Wall added. "We’re a team that we know we should be a top two team in the East right now. We control our destiny from this point forward, where we want to be in a playoff spot, we definitely know what we’ve gotta do to win. It all starts with me and Brad. We hear certain things they are saying like ‘why are you doing this, why are you doing that?’ But we’re putting in a lot of work."

The Wizards have battled inconsistency this season to an extreme degree. They often lose to lesser teams and by significant margins. The Mavericks, who won the fourth-worst records in the NBA, beat them by 23 points.

Like Wall and Beal said, they know that shouldn't happen. It's up to them and the rest of the Wizards to figure out how to fix it.

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‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

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Capital City Go-Go

‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

The Washington Wizards G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, held their second open local player tryouts at the Entertainment and Sports Arena Saturday morning in Southeast D.C.

Over 100 hopefuls filed into the arena with plans to impress Go-Go General Manager, Pop Mensah-Bonsu, head coach Ryan Richman, and his staff. 

Although each player in attendance has a unique path that’s led them here, they all shared one simple, yet intricate goal:

One shot in the G League. 

Adam Stanford, a prospect from California, traveled on a red eye to make the tryout on a less-than-ideal amount of sleep.

“My plane left at midnight from LAX, I had a two-hour layover in Denver, made it to Reagan National at five, checked into my hotel at six, took an hour nap and then Ubered here for tryouts,”  he said. 

“If I made this team it’d be big. Not just for me but for everyone who knows what I’ve been through from college to now.” 

Stanford is a 6-foot-4 wing from Campbellsville University, where he averaged 7 points, 5 rebounds, and was an academic All-American. 

Even with his positive outlook on the process, and an impressive showing Saturday morning, Stanford’s name wasn’t called for a follow-up workout later in the afternoon. 

The harsh reality that your chances are extremely slim to make a G League roster from an open tryout can be a tough pill to swallow, but as a guy who’s been on the opposite end of the chopping block, Mensah-Bonsu had an immense amount of respect for those who showed up to compete Saturday.

“Personally it’s tough because I never wanted to be that guy to read out the numbers of those who did make the team, and skip over those who didn’t,” Mensah-Bonsu said, “it’s heartbreaking. We always anticipate what the DMV has to offer in terms of the wealth of talent in this area.

"I was pleasantly surprised because we ended up selecting 15 guys to stick around for the afternoon portion, but going into this we were only planning to pick five.” 

Those who made the cut won’t be announced until a later date, which leaves the larger point of how those who were passed on respond?

The all-time leading scorer in Peach Sun Belt Conference history, Detrek Browning, was in attendance Saturday and put on a show. His combination of quickness, deep range shooting ability, and a knack for loose balls/putbacks captured the attention of every media member in attendance. 

However, his name wasn’t called for the next round of tryouts. 

Still, in a state of shock, he delivered words of encouragement not just for his self, but others to turn to after a similar letdown. 

“I for sure thought I was going to get a place here, but you just gotta focus and move on,” Browning said. “I quit my job in June to focus on basketball and it’s been paying off. I’ve seen my game increase exponentially.

“I did my best and that’s what matters,” he added. “I appreciate them not picking me up, it’s just going to make me work even harder.”

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Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Most MVP award winners thank coaches, parents and anyone who helped them become great. Elena Delle Donne is not most people.

The Washington Mystic's superstar forward had a lot to be thankful for after receiving the second MVP honors of her career, creating a long list on Twitter. Some injury-preventing accessory manufacturers made their way high up on her list.

Delle Donne became the first woman player to shoot 50/40/90 splits over the course of an entire WNBA season this year, but she was perhaps more grateful for the apparrel that allowed her to stay on the court: her knee brace and face mask. 

The Delaware native often deflects praise onto her teammates and coaches when receiving accolades, but when EDD's knee is being held together by her bulky brace and her nose is feeling protected after a fracture earlier in the season, they definitely deserve the thanks. 

She had a gruesome knee scare in a Game 2 loss to the Atlanta Dream in the playoffs last season, and even missed some early season games this year in recovery. Still, Delle Donne wouldn't let her knee keep her out of action, as her 31 regular season starts were the most games she's played since 2015. It's been evident she's had an edge all season to help her Washington Mystics get back to the Finals, and this time finish the job. 

Delle Donne's face mask has also been somewhat of a fashion trend in recent weeks with star athletes around the District. Wizards all-star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal along with Redskins runing back Derrius Guice, all wore the face masks in solidarity when they came to support the Mystics at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. 

Despite Delle Donne's nose having been fully recovered, she's kept the face mask on during games for style and reassurance. Considering these ailments, it's impressive Delle Donne's shooting touch not only hasn't been affected, but instead has improved. 

After a Game 2 win over the Las Vegas Aces, Delle Donne and Co. have the opportunity to make their season mantra come true and #RunItBack to a second straight WNBA Finals appearance. 

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