April in review: how the team stayed connected to the Wizards’ community
With the NBA in its second month without basketball, players and fans have had to adopt new methods of staying connected. In April, Bradley Beal and John Wall each made meaningful contributions to communities in D.C. and their respective hometowns. Wizards players and staff made appearances on TV, podcasts and across social media to connect with fans, tell stories and thank those working hard to keep the public safe and healthy. Rui Hachimura advanced in the NBA 2K Players Tournament and conducted a Twitter Q&A in both English and Japanese. John Wall even saved a very special announcement for the final day of the month.
Here’s a look at April’s highlights across the Wizards family.
IN THE COMMUNITY
With the demand for donations and help for those less fortunate rising across the country, the Wizards’ stars stepped up and did their part, delivering supplies, financial support and messages of hope to the communities and organizations that need it most.
Beal, in conjunction with Feeding America and alongside fellow St. Louis native and Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum, pledged to match $250K in donations to the St. Louis Area Foodbank, money that will go to help feed the hungry and aid in general recovery efforts across their hometown region.
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The JT0 & BB3 Challenge!!! My brother @jaytatum0 and I grew up in the city of St. Louis (U-City). We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, with God’s blessings and protection, we persevered. Now, we are in positions to be blessings to others. It’s an unfortunate time around the world with many people affected by the pandemic we are facing. We want to be able to assist those families and communities that have been heavily affected by the pandemic in our hometown. Through his foundation, The Jayson Tatum Foundation, Jay and I are partnering alongside @feedingamerica and @lineagelogistics on their “Share a Meal” campaign. We are pledging to match $250k to help provide meals through @feedingamerica and @stlfoodbank. We challenge you all to help donate in any way you can. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL! Click the link in my bio for more details! #nbacares #inthistogether
Beal didn’t stop there. In addition to his work in St. Louis and a partnership with PepsiCo to help deliver meals to hungry children, Beal continued his years of work with the students D.C.’s Ron Brown College Preparatory High School with one of his most impactful gestures yet. With students and teachers unable to gather together in the classroom, Beal provided those in need with 50 computers to aid their remote learning and 100 Giant food gift cards.
“You were there to volunteer not only your time, but also your resources, to ensure that all of our young men have an opportunity to stay engaged and to make sure that their needs are taken care of at home with them and their families,” RBHS Principal Dr. Benjamin Williams said in a thank you message to Beal. “Thank you so much for your continued support and we look forward to continuing to build this relationship that we’ve established over the last few years.”
Thank you @RealDealBeal23 for your continued support of the @RBHSMonarchs Family. Your generosity and compassion for our Young Kings is limitless! You are #ALLIN @DCPSChancellor @WashWizards @dcpublicschools pic.twitter.com/bqr9sJSrFQ— Ron Brown HS (@RBHSMonarchs) April 22, 2020
Joining Beal in the philanthropic efforts was Wall, who concluded an already-charitable month of April last week when he made surprise donations to hospitals in North Carolina and D.C. that cared for his late mother, Frances Pulley, during her cancer treatment. Wall, in conjunction with the John Wall Family Foundation, surprised the doctors and nurses at UNC Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina and MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. with a donation of 2,300 N95 masks in his mother’s name and partnered with Chick-Fil-A to provide approximately 600 meals for front line workers and first responders at each location.
“I just wanted to thank you all for all the great work you’re doing,” Wall told doctors and nurses at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in a Zoom conference after the donation. “I was happy to be able to donate additional masks to you all in memory of my mom, Frances Pulley. She did a lot of her chemotherapy there and I wanted to thank you all for all the great work you did by supporting her there and all the great work you’re doing to help people fight COVID-19. Keep up the great work.”
On Thursday, @JohnWall spoke with front line workers from @MedStarWHC and @RexHealthcare, two hospitals where his mom received care.— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 24, 2020
Thank you to all healthcare workers, as well as @MedStarHealth and @ChickfilA for their support!@JWFamFoundation | @CloseUp360 pic.twitter.com/b0KTPBfQeo
Wall, through his foundation, also encouraged donations to Bright Beginnings in D.C. and the Salvation Army of Wake County, North Carolina, outlining different ways fans could donate and the importance of supporting the homeless community during the pandemic.
Help @BrightBeginDC continue to provide resources to children and families experiencing homelessness during the Coronavirus pandemic. Go to https://t.co/JN8sAahTQA and click donate. We are in this together. #brightertogether #WallwayWednesday #JWFF #DCFamily pic.twitter.com/0AE3ZHswMw— JW-Family Foundation (@JWFamFoundation) April 1, 2020
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
In April, fans had lots of opportunity to hear from Wizards players, coaches and staff across the media landscape. Members of the team made appearances on podcasts, took part in live Twitter Q&As and more.
Ish Smith and Moritz Wagner both made appearances on the Wizards Podcast Network’s Full Court Press podcast.
Bradley Beal did some podcasting of his own, appearing on The Lowe Post, hosted by ESPN’s Zach Lowe, and Wizards After Dark, hosted by The Athletic’s Fred Katz.
Today on Wizards After Dark — my interview with Bradley Beal.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) April 20, 2020
We talked about his journey maturing into a leader, his thoughts on this season, what he wants to see from the team moving forward and more.
Listen/Subscribe: https://t.co/FPbnv39ZzM pic.twitter.com/oBj7Cbl1L2
Tommy Sheppard, Scott Brooks and Rui Hachimura all took part in live Q&A sessions with fans on Twitter, covering topics like teambuilding, how to stay active during the hiatus, what they miss most about basketball and how they’re all spending their time at home. All the Q&A sessions can be watched in full on the Wizards YouTube page.
On April 17, John Wall appeared on ESPN’s The Jump to talk about the status of his rehabilitation, his friendship with Bradley Beal, his plans for life after basketball and to deliver a message for the front line workers and first responders leading the fight against COVID-19.
Terrific conversation with @JohnWall on whether he could come back this season if "this season" is pushed late enough, his "man to man" conversation with Bradley Beal,, the weight he's cut to come back from his Achilles injury & his aspirations to coach or GM in the NBA one day. pic.twitter.com/CIWiNORycY— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 17, 2020
On April 17, the WNBA Draft took place as scheduled, but with a virtual twist. Front office staffers and league personnel conducted the entire draft remotely and in accordance with the necessary distancing guidelines across the country. Moe Wagner, a native of Germany, showed some love for Satou Sabally, a Berlin native who played at the University of Oregon and was selected second overall by the Dallas Wings.
WNBA draft tonight!!!! Excited for @BallySatou ...Berlin represent!!— Moe Wagner (@moritz_weasley) April 17, 2020
Wall was also in a draft day mood of his own, sharing some behind-the-scenes footage of his media tour the morning after the 2010 NBA Draft in which the Wizards selected him number one overall. In the video, a young Wall chats it up with comedians Chris Rock and Adam Sandler in the moments following one of his TV interviews.
PASSING THE TIME
The time away from the on-court competition has given fans the opportunity to see Wizards players in a different light; a peek behind the curtain at how they spend their off days, kill time and connect with family, friends and other players around the league.
Like many of the fathers across the league, Beal has taken the extra time to spend more time with his son. He posted a video earlier this week of that father-son time, which included his son Deuce’s heartwarming reaction to seeing his dad repeatedly dunk a basketball.
In the opening days of April, Rui Hachimura participated in the NBA 2K Players Tournament, which pitted 16 NBA players against each other in NBA 2K20 games broadcast on ESPN. Hachimura won his first round matchup against Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, whose reaction can be seen below, before falling to Phoenix’s Devin Booker in the second round.
Garrison Mathews has taken to the outdoors to pass some of the time – and did so with some company.
Life’s not too bad right nowpic.twitter.com/2bu4JGLTpH— Garrison Mathews (@gmathews_24) April 8, 2020
Some players are having a harder time filling their days than others.
Woke up at 5 started cleaning for fun— Admiral Schofield (@admiralelite15) April 3, 2020
A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
Lastly, on the final day of April, Wall announced on the All The Smoke podcast that he was expecting his second son.