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Scott Brooks surprised by Ernie Grunfeld firing, acknowledges tough year ahead for Wizards

Scott Brooks surprised by Ernie Grunfeld firing, acknowledges tough year ahead for Wizards

If you would have told the Washington Wizards at the start of their 2018-19 campaign that they would lose their star point guard for an extended period of time, would miss the playoffs for the first time in two seasons and fire team president Ernie Grunfeld before the end of the season, they probably would have had a few choice words for you.

Grunfeld's firing Tuesday came after one of the most challenging seasons in Wizards recent history and after 16 seasons that were filled with the highs of playoff success and the several lows.  

Long before being eliminated from the playoffs last week, owner Ted Leonsis hinted that significant changes would be made. However, head coach Scott Brooks didn't see Grunfeld's firing coming and doesn't think the team president did either.

"You know what, I had no clue," Brooks told 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies Wednesday. "I don't think Ernie [Grunfeld] had any clue that this would happen."

Brooks, who is wrapping up his third season as head coach, knows the team's failures this season were due to various reasons, many that were out of his control. Despite all of that, Brooks is disappointed in himself.

"The bottom line is its disappointing," Brooks added. "We all want to be in the playoffs and we're not there. I feel disappointed that I let a lot of people down, including Ernie."

The firing brings what some could argue as a breath of fresh air and clean slate for a team that hasn't been able to catch a break over the last year. 

Leonsis and the Wizards front office will now begin their hunt for Grunfeld's replacement with one of the top candidates already being in-house. With Wall's injury acting as a cloud hanging over their heads and their offseason decisions having a greater impact than usual, Brooks sees this as a prime opportunity for someone to make their mark on a franchise. 

"Well, its going to be a great opportunity for the next general manger to come in and shape the team," Brooks added. He's going to come in with a vision because we do, like you said, we have five players and plus a first-round pick coming up and so it's going to be a very important summer with John [Wall] being out. You know, we have to be very creative. Not going to make an excuse that it's going to be a tough year, but it's going to be a challenging year."

While bringing in a new general manager represents positive change, it could also bring negative change for those already within the organization. Brooks, who signed a five-year deal worth $35 million back in 2016, isn't worried about the new guy kicking him to the curb.

"I've been in the league a long time, 30 years as a player and coach," Brooks said. "I understand those things happen. And I've always felt if somebody's deserving of my job, so be it but I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can. Ted [Leonsis] has given me a great opportunity in an incredible city, and we have a job to do and we have a challenge ahead of us. We're all disappointed, but I'm looking forward to Ted [Leonsis'] decision and moving froward with the new guy." 

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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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