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Wizards players offer different viewpoints on Russell Westbrook fan incident

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Wizards players offer different viewpoints on Russell Westbrook fan incident

Interactions between fans and professional athletes are commonplace at sporting events and lines are crossed more often than many of us realize. On Monday night, a spat between Russell Westbrook and a fan of the Utah Jazz was caught on camera and went viral, both due to threats Westbrook made towards the fan and the comments reportedly made by the fan that started it all.

The incident was ugly enough to earn the fan a lifetime ban from Jazz games and Westbrook a $25,000 fine. It also caught the attention of Wizards players, who shared their thoughts after Tuesday's practice at the Medstar performance center in Southeast Washington.

"I feel like alcohol gives you a lot of confidence. [Crowds of] people do, too. Those are the two elements," forward Jabari Parker told NBC Sports Washington. 

"If you were ever to come up to me by yourself, you would have the utmost respect, so you should have that. I think it's just the culture. Things are passed down through age. Bad parenting is a contribution in that because people learn that from elders when they're kids. So, they don't give people that type of respect. All I know is my father would never tolerate that type of respect and treatment of other people. Regardless if I'm on the opposing team or if I'd ever be a fan, he taught me to never be a bad sport in cheering for your team or cheering for the other team."

Wizards big man Bobby Portis has a different viewpoint. Though he often hears fans say offensive things, he believes it comes with the territory and is confident in his restraint to not fire back.

"I love when the fans go after us. This is our job and they pay their money to come say what they want to say. They pay big money to come watch us. We're entertainers, so I think they have that right. I saw the conflict between Westbrook and the fan, but each guy said different things," Portis said. 

"With me, people cross the line with me all the time in the stands. I just laugh at it. At the end of the day, I'm playing this game for the fun of it and I want to make the most money as possible for my family. I can't let a fan discourage that or kind of derail me from making it."

Portis said the worst fans are in Boston and Golden State. He said of the Warriors, that "their fans are kind of spoiled, so they talk a lot."

Portis says fans should try to get under the skin of opposing players because it helps the home team. And the opposing players should be able to block it out and do their job.

Portis prides himself on shutting his hecklers up and recalls doing just that last year when he returned to action after missing time following a fight with his teammate.

"When I came back last year from suspension, it was like everybody was against me on the road. I think that fueled some fire in me. It made me play really well, wanting to prove those people wrong," he said.

Portis, in fact, embraces fan ridicule so much, he says he has profited off of it. All the time he hears about his large eyes. That trend goes back years and Portis found a way to capitalize on a business opportunity.

"I know like my first couple years in the league, they would say stuff about my eyes. It was funny at first. It was real funny," he said. 

"I kind of made like this big thing out of it. I made some shirts out of it and then everybody started supporting it. I kind of turned the joke into something that was cool for me. I made a lot of money off of it."


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Wizards vs. 76ers Preseason: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards vs. 76ers Preseason: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards will take the court Friday night in Philadelphia as they wrap up their 2019 preseason slate. While there are still roster spots to be won and roles to be carved out, the biggest storyline surrounding the Wizards this week comes from their biggest star.

Bradley Beal, the face of the franchise and Wizards' only All-Star while John Wall rehabs from his Achilles injury, signed a two-year contract extension with the Wizards Thursday morning.

The focus of the season for the Wizards will clearly be on their younger players, but fans will be most excited to see the team's remaining star this season.

It's unclear which 76ers stars will be on the court for the preseason finale, but the game will serve as the final tune-up for two franchise going in opposite directions. 

The Wizards vs. 76ers preseason finale wil tip off Friday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus.


What: Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers, 2019 NBA Preseason Game 4

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

When: Friday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Wizards at 76ers preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at 76ers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM


3:00 PM: The Daily Line (LIVE)

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. 76ers, NBA Preseason (LIVE)


Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Isaiah Thomas (OUT, Left thumb rehab), Isaac Bonga (OUT, Left knee soreness), Troy Brown Jr. (OUT, Left calf strain), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain), C.J. Miles (OUT, Left foot rehab)

76ers: James Ennis (DAY-TO-DAY, calf injury)


Bradley Beal, G, Wizards: Beal just signed a contract extension to keep him in Washington for a few more years. With John Wall out, the Wizards are solely his team, and this will be his first time on the court since agreeing to the new deal. 

Thomas Bryant, C, Wizards: The Wizards' best big man has enjoyed a strong preseason, and will look to solidify himself as Washington's number two option behind Beal with John Wall out. His outside game remains a work in progress, but Bryant has flashed a lot of potential inside for a Wizards team desperate for secondary scoring.

Matisse Thybulle, SG, 76ers: The rookie guard filled the stat sheet in Philadelphia's previous preseason game, and appears to have earned a significant role as a defensive specialist and the first wing off the 76ers' bench.  


Number of all-time Meetings: 303 games

All-time Record: 76ers lead 181-122

Last Meeting: Wizards won 123-106 on 1/9/19

Streaking: Wizards have won 9 straight home games against the 76ers, and  22 of last 29 at Capital One Arena


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How Bradley Beal's contract extension will work and how he could earn more money down the road

How Bradley Beal's contract extension will work and how he could earn more money down the road

By signing Bradley Beal to a two-year contract extension worth $72 million on Thursday, the Wizards made their future more secure. It was undoubtedly a win for the franchise and their newly constructed front office.

It is also a victory for Beal, of course, as he will go from rich to even richer. And even though he is technically passing on the chance to earn a supermax in the short-term, he is now in position to earn a lot of money down the road.

Beal's contract now runs through at least the 2021-22 season, as 2022-23 is a player option. That means he could opt out after his Age 28 season and enter free agency just weeks after his 29th birthday, in the summer of 2022.

His Age 28 season will also be his 10th in the NBA and players with 10 years of service time can sign contracts worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap. According to ESPN, Beal could sign a new contract with the Wizards in 2022 worth an approximate $266 million over five years.

Or, Beal could leave the Wizards that summer and still sign for a lot of money with a different team. He will be in line for a deal worth about $198 million over four years in free agency.

By the summer of 2022, Beal will have made roughly $172 million in NBA salary, so not including his endorsements. A $266 million deal would push him to somewhere in the range of $438 million in career earnings and that contract would end when he's 33 going on 34. 

Assuming Beal will still be good enough to earn another NBA contract at that age, he could push $450-500 million in total salary by the time his career is over.

That's a lot of cash and Beal gets to stay in Washington for the foreseeable future, which is what he wanted to do. Not bad.