Pro athletes in 2020 are displaying the power their platform holds within local communities.
During this mass period of demonstration, athletes have been incredibly visible. However, the question of how they can use their status to find concrete and quantifiable ways to improve the lives of others often arises.
Luckily in the D.C area, we have no shortage of athletes who love to give back, and impact the local the communities where they live.
A recent example of that desire to help is put on display by John Wall’s “202 Assist” program.
Wall’s foundation joined with the D.C government and Lydia’s House —A local organization that helps citizens in Wards 7 and 8— to provide rent assistance to D.C residents in ward 8.
Add the obstacles created by COVID-19 to the fact that Ward 8 households use 62 percent of their income to pay rent on average, and you can arrive at the conclusion that paying rent in a city with a high cost of living is an advanced challenge under current circumstances.
From May 22nd to June 22nd, “202 Assist” fundraised $531,860 in rent relief funds, and the organization is in the process of putting those funds to use.
Much of the work that Wall and other D.C athletes contribute to holds immense value beyond the donations and demonstrations themselves.
Wall’s presence in the D.C community is highly appreciated and needed.
It has been a pleasure to see one of my favorite players help people survive during a bleak time.
The most talented player of all time has garnered a bit of ill will during his career and diehard Wizards fans are close to topping the list of true LeBron Haters (Bulls fans are without a doubt #1).
I will forever admire LeBron’s play and appreciate what he does off the court, but I will never forget the repeated heartbreak he has bestowed upon Washington Wizards fans.
Most LeBron haters spawned from the belief that Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T or general disapproval of his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. Unlike the others, My Wizards fandom and LeBron related heartbreak are the deep-rooted foundation for the disdain I once held.
LeBron has career averages of 27.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists against the Wizards. These numbers aren’t too far away from his total career averages, but the utter dominance he displays over the team ripped the hearts out of Wizards fans who once hoped their teams would return to the glory the Bullets had in 1978.
The mid-2000’s Wizards “Big 3” that included Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antwan Jamison were often pummeled by LeBron. The tale as old as time rang the same in the coming years, even after the Wizards went through a full rebuild and built the “House of Guards” consisting of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
The following are my personal top 2 LeBron James Wizard killing moments.
#2. The Damon Jones Game
The 2006 Eastern Conference First Round between the Wizards and Cavs was an absolute dogfight. The series was full of high emotion and clutch moments. After five hard-fought games, the series was 3-2 in favor of Cleveland.
At home in game 6, the Wizards fought aggressively and forced overtime. Late in overtime with the Wizards up 113-112, Gilbert Arenas got fouled, went to the free-throw line, and missed his first free-throw.
Before Arenas took his final shot, LeBron strolled to the line and whispered to Arenas as he prepared to take the shot. After the exchange, Arenas, an All-Star and an 80 percent career free-throw shooter, missed the most important free-throw of the game.
The Cavs secured the rebound, pushed the ball, and LeBron made a crisp pass out of a double team to a wide-open Damon Jones in the corner.
It is important to note that Jones had only just checked into the game, played a total of 14 seconds and attempted one shot the entire night.
Jones nailed the shot with 4.3 seconds remaining, and put the Cavs up 114-113.
After the shot, the Wizards got the ball back, but Caron Butler’s game-winning attempt clanged off the rim and in the blink of an eye, the series was over. Cleveland beats Washington 4-2.
Years later, we would eventually learn what LeBron said to Arenas at the line, and the details of what he said are what make this Wizard killing LeBron moment sting a little bit more.
#1. The turnaround bank shot
One of the best shots in LeBron’s career was also one of the most painful to watch as a Wizards fan.
In 2016, the Wizards season ended during game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis. Losing to the Celtics was painful, but this LeBron buzzer-beater was a spirit-shattering moment during the most successful season for a men’s professional basketball team in D.C since the Washington Bullets won the NBA Finals back in 1978. (The Washington Mystics won the WNBA title in 2019).
To get to this iconic moment, we have to look at the lead-up to the shot attempt.
First of all, unlike Arenas from the 2006 matchup, John Wall nailed both of his free throws and gave the Wizards a 117-120 lead entering the 4th quarter. Next, Kevin Love inbounded the ball more than 3/4ths the distance of the court to get the ball to LeBron.
After completing the pass, King James would have to get enough separation from Bradley Beal to attempt the shot. Lastly, it took a stroke of luck to bank in cleanly off the backboard to tie the game.
If you’re a Wizards fan, you believe in Murphy’s Law, and everything that could go wrong went wrong that possession, unfortunately, it was enough to tie the game at the end of regulation.
In overtime, the Cavs dominated the period en route to a 140-135 win.
The shot will forever be in the annals of NBA history as one of the best regular-season moments in LeBron’s career.
That shot, like many others, does more than simply displaying the greatness of LeBron James, It also serves as a reminder to hoop fans in the District.
A reminder that the Wizards still have a long way to go before our home team can consistently compete on a championship level.
There are many examples of LeBron imposing his will on the Washington Wizards, and an endless supply of disappointing Wizards late-game moments, but these two were the worst watching in real-time.
Here are a few more Wizard destroying LeBron moments:
Call the fire department. Shooting Guard Jordan McRae is setting the NBA G-League ablaze. His stellar play is putting the NBA community on notice but it has yet to place him in the NBA permanently.
McRae set a G-League record with his 10th straight 30 plus point performance this past weekend. McRae poured in bucket after bucket Saturday en route to a game high 44 points on the day.
In G-League play McRae is currently averaging 31.4 PPG on 48.4 percent shooting from the field, 35.1 percent from three and 84.2 percent from the line.
The 27-year-old Tennessee Volunteer product is still currently searching for a traditional NBA contract and consistent minutes at the NBA level.
In games played under a two-way contract McRae has seen roughly 9 minutes a game in a Wizards uniform. His production in the G-League should earnhim more minutes in Scott Brooks’ rotation as the season starts to wind down.
The man has been about a bucket all year and it would be a shame if the Wizards are unwilling to find a bigger role for a player with an effective all-around offensive skillset.
Life comes at you fast. If you were an avid Wizards fan during the Wall-Beal era this past week has been an emotional rollercoaster ride that has ended up foreshadowing the beginning of what looks to be a long rebuilding process. This abrupt ending to what looked like a team on the rise is WITHOUT A DOUBT the worst case scenario I could have come up with if you were to ask me “Where do you think the team will be after the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2017?”
Exactly 2 years ago the Wizards were 31-21 and had just capped off a 17 game home winning streak only a few days prior (The longest since 1975). The team rode that wave into a 49 win season and a thrilling playoff run. Optimism was high, John Wall sent the team to Game Seven in Boston with a cold-blooded game winning three. Everything was headed in the right direction until Kelly Olynyk caught fire for 26 points to clinch the series and little did we know it was the beginning of the end.
Since the Olynyk snafu the Wizards have consistently played down to the level of their competition. They have also dealt with numerous injuries including one to All-Star John Wall that changed the focus of the organization and looks to be the incident that sparks a new rebuild. The once promising lineup that was primed to compete as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference has now vanished. All we can hope for now is luck in the lottery.