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Tomas Satoransky hopes to follow in footsteps of other foreign-born players in impact back home in Czech Republic

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USA Today Sports

Tomas Satoransky hopes to follow in footsteps of other foreign-born players in impact back home in Czech Republic

Tomas Satoransky is kind of a big deal in the Czech Republic, in case you hadn't heard. The Wizards point guard is the only Czech-born player currently in the National Basketball Association and with that comes a good deal of rewards.

Satoransky is a certified celebrity in his home country, and in recent summers since he reached the NBA, that has translated into endorsement opportunities including television commercials and magazine covers. As a rookie, when he first went to what he says is the only Czech restaurant in Washington, D.C., those who worked there recognized him as soon as he walked in the door.

Satoransky had made a name for himself as a key player for Spain's FC Barcelona of the EuroLeague before he joined the Wizards. But playing in the NBA has taken his Q-rating back home to new heights.

"Being able to be around and just have the logo of the NBA on your shirt, it’s a big thing in our country, for sure," he said. "We don’t have that many fans of basketball, but whenever you speak about the NBA, you speak about a show. Hollywood, America, you know?"

That fame also carries responsibility and Satoransky is still adjusting to it. He has a platform that is unique for his stature as an NBA player. There are thousands of Czech kids who look up to him as a sports hero, someone who has accomplished things few from their country ever have before.

Satoransky has current and former teammates who know this role well. Wizards center Ian Mahinmi runs basketball camps for kids in the summertime in both Montpellier, France and Benin in Western Africa.

Mahinmi has plans to expand his camps to other cities and cherishes the opportunity to impact young kids from the places he himself has roots.

"You get back home and you can see the look on the kids' faces. Whether you are with the kids or their parents, you can see it on their face like 'wow, this guy is really on the other side of the sea,'" he said.

"It's always a humbling experience. It gives you a feeling that is really hard to explain. At the end of the day, you are very proud of yourself and your family. To be put in that position is very strong."

Center Marcin Gortat, who was traded by the Wizards to the Los Angeles Clippers this offseason, offered guidance to Satoransky to help his outreach efforts overseas. When Gortat was a young player, he sought advice from foreign-born teammates like Hedo Turkoglu of Turkey and Steve Nash of Canada and hopes to pay it forward with Satoransky.

Gortat has met Satoransky's team of agents and business associates and believes he is laying the proper groundwork to someday develop a platform like Gortat has in Poland. Gortat holds camps in the summer and has been described by teammates who have attended them as a Michael Jordan-like figure back home.

"One thing that is good is that he’s a very smart and hard-working person," Gortat said of Satoransky. "He could be someone who is very important in his country. One thing I can tell him is that it’s going to take a lot of time out of his own free time in the summers. It’s going to take a lot of time to do all the stuff that I’m doing. It’s only one way. Once you start it, you can’t stop it."

Satoransky has been receptive to advice from Gortat, Mahinmi and others in the process of carving his own niche back home. He said he looks up to them and is "trying to do similar things."

Satoransky isn't on Gortat's level yet, but has recognized the power of his celebrity through holding his own basketball camp the past three years in the Czech Republic.

"This is good to give something back to the community of the Czech Republic and giving something back to the small kids. They are really looking forward to meet me in the summer and it’s great," he said.

Satoransky has already found creative ways to utilize his platform. Last summer, Satoransky chose several young kids from his basketball camp to act alongside him in a commercial for the Czech suiting company Blazek.

The opportunity to be in a commercial with Satoransky was a thrill for the kids and their families.

"That was pretty nice that they could be on TV," he said.

There are many things Satoransky hopes to accomplish back home in the Czech Republic as his career continues and his platform grows. He would like to someday bring his Wizards teammates over to appear at his basketball camp, like Gortat has done in the past.

"For kids from my country to be able to see them would be amazing. I think it’s good to be planning those things. We have time in the summer," he said.

For now, it's about planting the seeds for bigger goals down the line.

"I look forward to it and I enjoy it and that’s the most important part," he said.

 

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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."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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How to watch Wizards vs. Bulls Wire to Wire broadcast

How to watch Wizards vs. Bulls Wire to Wire broadcast

The Wizards head to the Bay Area to take on the Golden State Warriors. Before that, fans can enjoy inside NBA access in the debut of 'NBC Sports Wire to Wire'.

'NBC Sports Wire to Wire' will debut Sunday, Mar. 1, at 6:30 p.m. and feature a one-hour condensed game of the Wizards matchup with the Bulls from mid-January. The twist is players and coaches on both sides were mic'd up during the game. 

Ish Smith, Moe Wagner, and Scott Brooks are featured from the Wizards side, while you'll be able to hear Coby White, coach Jim Boylen and former Wizard Tomas Satoransky as well. The broadcast will deliver a mix of on-court audio and sit-down interviews. 

The Wizards fell to the Bulls 115-106 in the game in question. In a head-to-head matchup between two eventual All-Star snubs, Zach LaVine got the best of Bradley Beal, scoring 30 points on 12-21 shooting to get his team the win. 

If you recall, Beal questioned the Wizards' culture after his team dropped what he called a 'winnable game.' Since then, the Wizards are 7-6 and before the All-Star break, were playing some of their best basketball.

Beal has also been exceptional since Washington's last loss in Chicago, so perhaps there's a bit more insight into what went on that game that one, caused Beal to call out his team after the game, and two, sparked one of the best runs of play for the Wizards all year. 

So remember 6:30 p.m. on Sunday before the Wizards-Warriors game. And if you aren't able to catch it the first time, the special will be re-air later Sunday evening at 11:30 p.m.

Here's everything you need to know to tune into the game Sunday and how to watch the Wire to Wire broadcast afterward. 

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors 

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA

When: Sunday, Mar. 1, 2020, at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Warriors will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Warriors on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Wire to Wire: Wizards vs Bulls

7:30 PM: Wizards Outsiders

8:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

8:30 PM: Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors

11:00 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

11:30 PM: Wire to Wire: Wizards @ Bulls

WIZARDS vs. WARRIORS INJURY REPORT

Wizards: John Wall (OUT/Achilles), Thomas Bryant (OUT/foot)

Warriors: Marquese Chriss (Day-to-day/calf), Draymond Green (Day-to-day/hip), Steph Curry (Day-to-day/hand), Klay Thompson (OUT/knee)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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