Phoenix Suns v Washington Wizards
Orlando, FL - JULY 31: Johnathan Williams #19 of the Washington Wizards looks on during a game against the Phoenix Suns on July 31, 2020 at The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizney World Blog: Behind the scenes of Wizards' first game in 143 days

August 1, 11:40 A.M.

Good morning from Orlando,

The Wizards returned to the court on Friday for the first time in 143 days. Leading up to the game, I departed the hotel at quarter to 1:00 P.M., as games like this require a lot of pregame legwork. I wanted to make sure to capture our jerseys with pre-approved social justice names, Black Lives Matter shooting shirts, and the players arriving at the arena.

Typically on a game day on the road, which is the most similar situation to this, I arrive before any of the players get there to collect content in the locker room and the players arriving. I try to shoot video and photos of every player during warmups, attend Coach Brooks’ media availability before the game, and work with my team to make sure we post everything prior to tip.

At approximately 45 minutes before the game, our entire staff took a photo wearing the social justice t-shirts depicting the modified D.C. hands logo with a closed fist. A little background on the logo: our talented videographer, producer, editor, and all-around five-tool content creator Tania Henao thought of the design back in May. We had Emilee Fails, one of our talented photographers and content creators, then create the logo itself.

The national anthem was obviously much anticipated considering all of the discussions that have taken place leading up to this moment. Our team, along with the other 21 teams here in Orlando, decided to take a knee together for the anthem. Ian Mahinmi had been in contact with players from other teams to make sure we had a united stance heading into Friday. Scott Brooks and Suns head coach Monty Williams swapped spots to show both teams were together, and everyone locked arms. This was undoubtedly one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever witnessed during my four seasons with the team, and one that will stick with me forever.

On the court, the Wizards struggled out of the gate, and the Suns basically controlled the first quarter. Our team showed fight in the second quarter, taking the lead at one point. I thought we played much better in the game’s final 36 minutes, but when you start that slow it can be hard to come back from. Foul trouble really plagued us in the first half, and Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton ended up being too much to handle.

Here is an exclusive all-access video from the game yesterday, with behind the scenes footage and highlights from my viewpoint courtside.

Before yesterday's game, episode five of Ballin' in the Bubble with Troy Brown Jr. dropped. This is definitely the best episode yet, so make sure to check it out and subscribe to Troy's YouTube channel!

Today (Saturday), only players who played less than 15 minutes will practice. With three games in four days and a back-to-back looming tomorrow and Monday, most of the team will be focused on recovery. That means getting treatment from the training staff, going in the cold tub, and overall just taking it easy.

Looking forward to seeing more basketball the next few days, especially on Sunday against Brooklyn. In order to force a seeding game, this is essentially a must-win for the Wizards.


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