LA Clippers v Washington Wizards
ORLANDO, FL - JULY 25: Rui Hachimura #8 of the Washington Wizards grabs the rebound against the LA Clippers on July 25, 2020 at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizney World Blog: Wizards basketball is back

July 30, 10:13 P.M.

Basketball is officially back! By the time you read this, two NBA games have already tipped off. For the first time since March 11, the NBA returned with the Pelicans vs. Jazz and Clippers vs. Lakers.

Since Monday’s exhibition against the Lakers and ahead of Friday’s matchup with the Suns, the Wizards have had three strong practices. Wednesday’s four-on-four-on-four drill, where the team divided into three teams and battled in half-court, was super competitive. The team looked game-ready during that drill on both ends of the court.

Before practice on Thursday, Coach Brooks tasked Ian Mahinmi and Isaac Bonga with a fun challenge. If either was able to roll a basketball within the paint of the opposite basket, the team would be able to take off a drill from practice. This was similar to the day Jerome Robinson made a half-court shot on his first try. Like Robinson, Mahinmi succeeded on his first try.

There’s been a lot of smack talk recently among the European players about who is the best at soccer. Ian Mahinmi, Isaac Bonga, and Moe Wagner have been going back and forth about the topic, with Admiral Schofield jumping in on the discussion. Bonga’s brother Tarsis is a professional soccer player.

After practice on Thursday, the guys were juggling and talking more about soccer, and Moe brought out this trick, which was very impressive, especially on his first try.

On Thursday night and in anticipation of our first game, we had a team dinner, catering in Oceanaire. We also celebrated all of the bubble birthdays in July: Shabazz Napier (July 14), Assistant Head Coach Jarell Christian (July 19), Head Athletic Trainer Jeff Bangs (Sunday), Troy Brown Jr. (Tuesday), Associate Head Coach Tony Brown (Wedneesday), Thomas Bryant (on Friday), and Coach Brooks (also Friday).

At dinner, General Manager Tommy Sheppard thanked the entire travel party for their hard work to get this point. It’s been quite a journey, and to be sitting together the night before the team’s first game in so long was crazy to think about. After Tommy spoke, we heard from two of the team’s pastors, who spoke about everything going on in the world and encouraged the players to continue to use their voices and platforms. After that, we all watched the powerful clip of the body of the late John Lewis traveling over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL one last time. Following that special moment, we watched the first half of the Pelicans-Jazz game to tune into the first NBA action in over four months!

On Friday, basketball is finally back. Make sure to tune into our Virtual Gameday show at 12:00 P.M., which will be live on our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages as well as Monumental Sports Network. Also, be on the lookout for episode five of Ballin’ in the Bubble with Troy Brown Jr.!

I’ll be heading to the arena shortly after 12:30 P.M. to get ready for our first game since March 10. It’s going to be surreal to see the Wizards play again, and I’m looking forward to capturing the experience.

To round out tonight’s post, I’m featuring my first of many interviews with fellow Monumental Sports & Entertainment and Wizards employees in the bubble. First up is Chelsea Powell, who is the Wizards’ Director of Game Presentation.

1. What is your role with the NBA down here in the bubble? How did it come about?

I’m working as a producer for the NBA’s Live Programming & Events group for the NBA Restart. My primary responsibility is producing, tracking, and running video content on the large LED screens that fans see around the courts here in Orlando. I have the unique opportunity to direct content in games for all the teams represented here the bubble, which is equally challenging and exciting.

Our NBA contacts reached out to the various game presentation departments from the 22 teams represented here in the bubble letting us know they’d need additional staffing for the Bubble games. After a selection process, I got the invitation to work in Orlando until September 14 (or until the conclusion of the second round of the playoffs). I’m very thankful that MSE was supportive in this decision!

2. What has your experience been like in the bubble outside of basketball?

Outside of basketball??? Kidding!

Our schedule since exiting our 7-day quarantine has been pretty demanding, but everyone in our game presentation group is happy to be back working in arenas. We are in the arenas every day programming content, working on scripts and game cues. When we aren’t in the arena, we hop on Zoom calls to discuss upcoming games but we definitely all take advantage of our free time by hanging out at the Coronado Springs pools. Getting to hang out with and work alongside a large group of game presentation directors from other NBA teams has been a highlight of this experience for sure.

Outside of work and after-work hangouts, you can find me on FaceTime catching up with my husband and saying hi to my pets back home!

3. How does your role down here compare to your usual role with the Wizards?

I think first and foremost, I’m doing my job with the Wizards as I (almost) normally would by producing game scripts and content, but I’m multiplying it by 22 to produce all the teams down here. I have a deep appreciation for how every NBA team’s game presentation department creates their own unique homecourt advantage by running their own videos, animations, and playing their own music. The NBA has made an awesome decision to create that homecourt feel in the bubble. The game presentation bubble group’s biggest job down here is to run every game like the home team would do it – we need to run a New Orleans Pelicans game exactly like the New Orleans Pelicans’ game presentation group would, and so on. It takes a lot of work and coordination to do that, but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience to see the players on the court smiling and nodding along to things they’re used to hearing at home.

4. You’ve worked on the Wizards game entertainment content for the restart games. What’s it been like and what should fans expect?

Our game presentation department put our heads together to figure out what content resonated with our fans to make sure those pieces would have a place in the Bubble games. Putting the bubble content together took an army. A huge shoutout to our MSE productions department is in order – the list of content to create was long, and they did a great job recreating the videos and animations Wizards fans are used to seeing for the boards in the Bubble. You’ll hear some familiar sounds (“DC3!”) and see some familiar content (“Welcome to DC”) when you watch a Wizards game in Orlando. I hope the players and DC Family alike enjoy the unique viewing experience!

That’s all from me. Looking forward to sharing my experience after tomorrow’s game against the Suns. Let’s go, Wizards!

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