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The Washington Mystics advance to WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history

The Washington Mystics advance to WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history

In their 21st season as a franchise, the Washington Mystics have advanced to their first-ever WNBA Finals, defeating the Atlanta Dream, 86-81. 

The best-of-five series ended in Atlanta Tuesday night, thanks to a combined 70 points from Tianna Hawkins, Kristi Toliver, Ariel Atkins and Elena Delle Donne. 

Delle Donne, who missed Game 3 due to a knee injury, found a way to notch yet another playoff double-double in Game 5 with 14 points and 11 rebounds. 

The Mystics' depth ultimately proved to be too much as they received bench production from an unexpected source in their rookie Atkins. The 22-year-old scored a game-high 20 points while pulling down seven rebounds. 

Washington will face the Seattle Storm Friday at KeyArena in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. 

 

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Tim Legler remembers hero, friend and former colleague Wes Unseld

Tim Legler remembers hero, friend and former colleague Wes Unseld

Former Bullets player Tim Legler has felt the impact Wes Unseld made on basketball and this world in a variety of ways.

He grew up a Bullets fan, spending his early years split between Richmond, VA and Baltimore, MD. He later became an NBA player and spent four seasons in Washington where Unseld ran the front office. And through their working relationship, they became long-time friends, staying in touch over the years.

Legler joined the 'Wizards Talk' podcast for an upcoming episode to share memories of Unseld, who passed away this week at the age of 74.

"I remember going to my very first basketball camp when I was 12 years old. I had a t-shirt that I got and I dyed it Bullets colors and I put Unseld on the back of it," he said.

"One of the very first times I remember crying over a sporting event was when the Bullets lost to the Supersonices in the [NBA Finals]. It broke my heart. Now, here you are on charted flights with this guy, you're on buses with him, you're at practice with him, you're getting a chance to know him on a human level. Honestly man, I was pinching myself."

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Legler knew Unseld the player as an enforcer who was as feared as anyone who played during his era of the 1970s. But as Legler got to know the Hall of Famer personally, he realized there was much more to him than the tough exterior.

"The thing I will always remember about Wes Unseld is that to me he is epitome of what you would label a gentle giant because he was a mountain of a man. He's one of the strongest physical specimens that has ever stepped on the floor and an NBA court," Legler said.

"But he had the biggest heart. He was a kind man, he was a respectful person. He always treated me and my family great, and every other person I saw Wes Unseld come in contact with. So he went beyond whether you regarded him as a basketball player or basketball executive."

Legler added he was deeply affected by Unseld's passing. Though Unseld's health had declined in recent years, it took him by surprise when he saw the news.

"It was a gut-punch, no doubt," he said. "It takes your breath away for a second because immediately you are transported back to that time."

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John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

As people around the country continue to protest police brutality and racial injustices against black people, athletes continue to add their powerful voices and experiences to the cause.

Wizards guard John Wall joined in the conversation, discussing the fear he continues to have about being pulled over by the police. For many black Americans, the reality of racial discrimination makes the mere thought of being pulled over more daunting than it should be. Apparently that anxiety doesn’t dissipate just because you’re a star athlete.

“If I get pulled over right now, I’m terrified,” Wall said on Thursday’s episode of The Athletic’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast. “To be realistic. If I’m in a dark area, or a back street, I’m not stopping. I’ll go to a high-speed chase to get to a spot where it’s a grocery store, or somewhere where there’s a lot of lights at, because that’s how terrifying it is.”

To some, it may be jarring to hear a recognizable, millionaire athlete discuss his fear of the police, but the money and acclaim don't provide a shield from racism. And for many black people, the fear is instilled at a young age, either through personal experiences or those of people with the same skin color. In the age of camera phones, more and more incidents are being recorded for the world to see.

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George Floyd was suffocated and killed by a white police officer in Minnesota who put a knee to his neck for over eight minutes. Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times and killed in her own home by police in Louisville. Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death by a white father and son while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood.

“You’re telling me if I want to be a black kid to jog in a neighborhood, and I say, ‘Ok, I want to cut through this white neighborhood, this rich neighborhood,’ and then all of a sudden, I’m targeted to get killed?” Wall continued. “Because I don’t belong there? Those are the kind of things I grew up with, like you wouldn’t go to this side of town where you wasn’t allowed. Why? We breathe the same air.”

Wall, who grew up in Raleigh, N.C., said the constant acts of racial discrimination have been frustrating and that all people want to see is justice. 

“I feel like this has been going on for decades, been going on for so much longer than the time I’ve been on this earth,” he said. “But if we didn’t have social media or camera phones right now, we wouldn’t be able to see this act going on.”

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