Milwaukee Bucks v Washington Wizards
Orlando, FL - AUGUST 11: Troy Brown Jr. #6 of the Washington Wizards and Robin Lopez #42 of the Milwaukee Bucks smile during the game on August 11, 2020 at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizney World Blog: Farewell, Yacht Club

August 12, 11:33 P.M.

Good evening,

Man, time flies. Tonight (Wednesday) is our last night staying in Orlando, as the team will depart back to D.C. following our game against the Celtics at Noon on Thursday.

A brief rundown on what we’ve been up to: Monday was a light practice day since we would hold shootaround Tuesday morning. Before our game against the Bucks on Tuesday night, voting rights activist and author Stacey Abrams spoke to our team and the Mystics via Zoom in what was a powerful and informative conversation about voting. Abrams is somebody I’ve always enjoyed listening to, and her knowledge and experience fit right in with our When We All Vote partnership!

The game started at 9:00 P.M. on Tuesday night. I don’t think we’ve ever had a game start that late in local time. The whole Giannis head-butt thing took the headlines, but we struggled to keep up with a championship-caliber team, even without some of their top players. Still, like every game and practice down here, it was a big opportunity. Rui Hachimura took nine 3-pointers, an element of his game that is quickly evolving. Troy Brown Jr. started at point guard for the first time in his career. Those are things that would not have happened in a normal season and with the team’s full roster available.

We started Wednesday with another guest speaker, as the full company and teams heard from author and historian Ibram X. Kendi. Similar to Stacey Abrams, Professor Kandi brought up important topics that need to be discussed, even if they’re uncomfortable conversations. We practiced in the afternoon, as we wanted to keep focus on our last opportunity on Thursday against the Celtics, who will be resting most of their main rotation players.

It was also a hectic day filled with exit interviews, in which both Tommy Sheppard and Coach Brooks met with each player. In those meetings, they typically talk about their progress year over year and what each guy should work on in the offseason. In the afternoon, I filmed something quick with Moe Wagner, but we also witnessed Zion Williamson catch a fish, which was funny.

At night, the team hosted one last dinner, courtesy of Morton’s The Steakhouse. I had a juicy filet mignon with some Brussels sprouts on the side. Tommy said some words to the group of players, coaches, and staff, thanking everyone for making this experience so great. The staff also had a get together after, with dessert and drinks while we watched some of the basketball being played only a few minutes away.

To echo what Tommy said to us, this really has been a great experience. Yes, it’s hard to be secluded in a contained space and be away from our families and loved ones, but we really built a strong camaraderie here and it turned into a very manageable and fun atmosphere. We would’ve obviously wanted to win more games, but everybody I’ve spoken to – players, coaches, and staff – feels that they have grown personally and professionally. Our players improved on the court and we all built an even stronger bond. I’ll reflect more on my personal experience on my last post for Friday, but those are just some initial thoughts.

Thursday is going to be a hectic day, to say the least. We need to bring our luggage down and test prior to 9:30, and the buses will be running at 8:45, 9:30, and 10:00 ahead of our Noon game. After the game, we’ll be heading over to another hotel for players and coaches to shower. Then, we’ll catch our flight back to D.C. and likely land between 7:00 and 8:00 P.M.

My fun tidbit for the night took place on the tennis court. A group of us have been playing consistently, especially the past week. Assistant coaches Corey Gaines and Jarell Christian, training staff members Steve Smith and Blair O’Donovan, and I have played some competitive matches. I played junior varsity tennis in high school (my school was really good; also, I wasn’t that good), so I was very willing to join in. We were playing at 10:00 P.M. after the team dinner and dessert, and the lights went out on us in the middle of a point. The match was pretty heated (Steve and I vs. Blair and Corey has become a bit of a rivalry), but we just had to drop everything. One day we’ll be able to resume the match – it was 3-6, 3-3, advantage Steve and I.

I just wanted to give special shout outs to so many people here at the Yacht Club and the NBA campus who have made this experience so seamless. Our NBA liaison, Daniel Feinberg, has been tremendous. Our bus drivers Mary, Cliff, and George are amazing. We’ve loved seeing the nurses who test us every day. The hotel staff has been helpful and friendly. It’s been cool to connect with the other teams staying at our hotel, especially with the Trail Blazers and Suns being the two most exciting teams in the bubble so far.

Well, that will do it from Yacht Club. Stay tuned for my final post at the end of the week and take care!

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