Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics
Orlando, FL - AUGUST 13: Ish Smith #14 of the Washington Wizards drives to the basket against the Boston Celtics on August 13, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida.
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizney World Blog: The finale

August 13, 7:54 P.M.

Hello world,

As I write to you, we are in the air heading back to the nation’s capital after 38 days in Orlando. In what has been an experience full of personal and professional growth, I hope this final blog post can sum up our final day and my experience with the team.

My day started at 8:00 A.M., as I needed to get ready and put the finishing touches on my packing. I have a lot of luggage with me – eight bags to be exact – with five of the eight being video equipment. We had to bring our luggage down before 9:30 A.M. as well as get tested. I had a few minutes to even eat some breakfast before heading to the arena.

The team earned a much-needed win on the court this afternoon, anchored by another strong performance from Thomas Bryant (26 points, nine rebounds, four steals, and two blocks). Troy Brown Jr., Ish Smith, Johnathan Williams (16 rebounds!), and others stepped up with Rui Hachimura sitting the game out.

Bryant was especially excited after the game, and I think a lot of guys felt the same way. Even if it was a win against a Celtics team resting six of their players, getting that victory before we left gave us a bit of satisfaction. In Coach Brooks’ message to the team postgame, he thanked the players, coaches, and training staff for all of their hard work to get us to this point. The work will not stop; this is a pivotal offseason and our players need to be ready to go whenever basketball does resume for the 2020-21 season.

After we finished the game and media responsibilities, we stopped by a hotel space by where most of our practices were. They had food and hotel rooms available for us to use for about an hour before we headed to the airport. Of course, I almost missed the bus, but I’ll spare you that story to avoid further humiliation. Just remember, the 4:00 P.M. bus leaves at 4:00, not 4:01. Our flight took off around 5:45 P.M. as another bus will await us in D.C. to take us back to Capital One Arena.

As I reflect on this experience, three things continue to come to my mind: the camaraderie, basketball utopia, and personal and professional growth.

First off, it goes without saying that all of us in the travel party got closer from this experience. It really hit me how short-staffed we were compared to usual when we got on the plane home today. There were so many empty chairs, and it made me realize how many of us were doing way more than ours jobs normally entailed.

Almost all of us usually travel with the team to begin with, but to be together in a confined space for over five weeks forced us to become even closer. No person was treated differently than the next, and we truly went through this experience together. I will miss all of the laughs in the meal rooms, playing tennis, talking hoops with our players, coaches, and Tommy Sheppard, and so much more. The good news is that we’ll all be back together again once the season resumes, and we’ll be ready for whatever needs to happen in order to play basketball safely again.

If you love basketball, the Orlando bubble may be the biggest hoops utopia in history. If you weren’t playing or practicing, there was always a game on to watch. Teams would connect at the restaurants and bars by just watching the game. As Moe Wagner told me yesterday, it’s crazy just how the simple game of basketball made this possible. I’m someone who believes in the power and importance of sport, and this proved my theories even more.

Lastly, I was able to try things I had never done before. With only one content person in the bubble, I was asked to be a jack of all trades: take photos, shoot video, interview players, write, help with public relations responsibilities (not that Scott Hall needed my help!), and much more. This concludes my fourth season with the team and sometimes I think I’ve seen it all, but there is always room to grow and something new to learn.

As we look forward to the future, there’s a lot of footage both Troy Brown Jr. and I have taken that we haven’t realized yet. Some of that will be in the final episode of Troy’s vlog, but we also will have a documentary coming out of the bubble experience soon (breaking news).

The NBA Draft Lottery is already this Thursday (a week from today!), so that’s the next big thing on our agenda. The Wizards have the ninth-best odds for the number one pick. The NBA Draft is tentatively October 16, so there will be a few months in between. We’ll certainly have you covered during that stretch about prospects.

We went into this season knowing that John Wall could miss the entire season, so it would be a year of development for the Wizards. Bradley Beal jumped from an All-Star caliber player to an elite, All-NBA star. Davis Bertans electrified our bench and proved he’s one of the best shooters in the world. Thomas Bryant, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, and more young players are all pieces this team can build around. With a first-round pick and the Bulls’ second-round pick in this draft, there are more young, hungry players on the way. Couple that with an All-Star backcourt and the possible re-signing of Davis Bertans, next season is going to be very fun to watch.

This blog concept got a lot of love, so I’m guessing this won’t be the last time you read my writing in this format. Still, I appreciate everyone who came along the ride to Wizney World and I hope you were able to see yourself in my shoes for the 38 days we were gone. Thank you for following our journey, and I look forward to sharing even more behind the scenes footage in our documentary.

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