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Five takeaways from Thursday's 'Wizards Social Hour' with Davis Bertans
On Thursday, Davis Bertans joined ‘Wizards Social Hour’ on the Wizards’ Twitter account. Hosted by NBC Sports Washington’s Justin Kutcher, the Q&A featured questions from fans and covered topics such as Bertans’ first impressions of D.C., why he chose #42, Bradley Beal as a leader, his all-time starting five, the #BrooksLooksChallenge and more. Here are five takeaways from Bertans’ Q&A.
On brotherhood and plans to build a basketball court in Latvia honoring Kobe and Gianna Bryant…
Bertans detailed the early years of his relationship with his older brother, Dairis, who spent one season with the Pelicans but has played the majority of his career in Europe. Davis spoke of the frustration that came from losing over and over in their one-on-one battles and fighting for touches in games with Dairis and his older friends.
“I think it definitely made me a better basketball player,” Davis said. “My goal was always to beat him. He was always better than me. It just gave me that drive. I could also see him and how hard he was working. Naturally, his body wasn’t the same height as mine when we were getting older.”
Dairis stands 6’4” while Davis measure in at 6’10”.
“Seeing how hard he’s worked to get to the teams and leagues that he’s played in…seeing what he’s achieved,” Davis said. “For me, I’m 6’10” – I’ve got to do better if I work as hard as he does. That was a big help for me.”
Davis said their relationship only improved as they grew older and says they’re now as close as ever and “in touch as much as possible.” The brothers had planned to build a brand-new basketball court in their home country of Latvia this offseason. After Kobe Bryant’s passing in February, Davis said he and Dairis redesigned the court to include a tribute to Kobe and his daughter, Gianna.
“Kobe was the guy that inspired a lot of basketball players from my generation,” Davis said. “The idea was to honor him some way…That’s a way to keep his memory alive for a long, long time.”
On a rare case of nervousness at this year’s 3-Point Contest…
Early in the Q&A, Bertans was asked who inspired him to become a 3-point shooter. Never short on self-confidence, he replied, “Probably myself.” That confidence, according to Bertans, was put to the test in February when he participated in the 2020 MTN DEW 3-Point Contest.
“It’s a little bit different than stepping out onto the basketball court with four of your teammates and a few more guys on the bench and you’re playing the game together. You’re just stepping out there by yourself – I can’t imagine playing tennis at Wimbledon when you’ve got 20 or 30 thousand people watching (only) you play. That’s what the feeling is like. That might have been one of the first times I stepped on a basketball court and felt a little bit nervous. It took a couple shots for that anxiety to go away.”
On his friendship with Bogdan Bogdanovic and demanding practice sessions in Serbia…
When asked about his best friends across the league, one name immediately came to mind for Bertans: Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic. Bertans and Bogdanovic played together in Serbia and, as Bertans tells it, had to endure long days and rigorous, demanding practice sessions.
“We went through a lot there,” Bertans said. “Practice wise: seven, eight hours per day. And I mean real practice. Legit, borderline passing out. Me and (Bogdanovic), we could only leave the shooting practice in the morning if we would make 10 threes in a row coming off screens. We couldn’t leave before we were done because we had two practices per day. One time, we got a lift in at 9:30 a.m., then we had a team shootaround at 10:30 and we finished at noon.”
The duo then went into their post-practice shooting routine.
“I think it was about 2:45 p.m. when coach sent one of the assistant coaches to the café to get some croissants and orange juice so I could refresh myself and then keep going,” Bertans said. “By 3:00 p.m., he said ‘go home, you’ll finish after tonight’s practice.’ So I went home. I think I got two hours at home, took a nap and then went back to the gym.”
On how he came to choose #42…
“The #8 was an all-time favorite for me, playing on the national team with #8,” Bertans said. “You would think that Kobe was the reason. First, my dad was playing with #8 for most of his career. Whenever I saw him play, it was with #8. My brother started with #8 and later on, he changed to #9. But it was like a family thing. I fell in love with that number, I was always trying to get #8 wherever I went. I went to Slovenia – #8 was taken so I chose #24…Then when I moved to Serbia, I got #44 just to change up things a little bit. When I went San Antonio, #44 was retired there. (I chose #42 because) I was drafted 42nd. That was the next number that made sense.”
Bertans’ love for the #8 could only be outdone this season by Rui Hachimura, whose tie to the number is rooted in his name. In Japanese, the #8 literally translates to “Hachi.”
“That might be only reason I didn’t pull the vet card and say, ‘you have to change the number,’” Bertans joked. “It probably means a lot more to him than to me.”
On doing his part in the #BrooksLooksChallenge…
Earlier this week, the Wizards and head coach Scott Brooks announced the start of the #BrooksLooksChallenge, presented by Fresh Vine Wine, to raise money for the MSE Foundation’s “Feeding the Frontlines” fund. If donations reach $25,000, Brooks will allow his daughter, Lexi, to cut his hair.
Bertans said that as soon as he saw the video, he donated to the cause, texted Brooks and told him “to get ready to get that cut.”
“I would probably go with something funnier,” Bertans said. “He would actually have to shave a little bit too. You know the old man look where you have a little bit of hair left on the side and then the top is completely shaved? That would look great. That would be worth $25,000.”
Introducing the #BrooksLooksChallenge pres. by @FreshVineWine!— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) May 5, 2020
Like many of you, Coach Brooks needs a haircut desperately. He will allow his daughter, Lexi, to cut his hair if $25,000 in donations are reached for Feeding The Frontlines!
DONATE: https://t.co/pbVMHrczg4 pic.twitter.com/2lkANTCs0g