Phil Chenier’s jersey retired and John Wall returns

On Saturday, the Washington Wizards‘ John Wall returned to full practice after being sidelined for seven weeks. David Aldridge of TNT was the first to report.

The Wizards are currently sixth in the East, and if the playoffs were held today they would be facing the Cavaliers. But the playoffs aren’t today and Washington still has a chance to move up in the standings. They have ten games left before postseason action.

On Friday, the Wizards retired the great Phil Chenier’s jersey and it hangs proudly in the rafters.

They couldn’t have raised the jersey high enough to meet the level of excellence and professionalism that Mr. Chenier has brought to this league, and continues to bring.

When Wall walked out onto the court to congratulate Mr. Chenier, after that heart warming speech, it was a defining moment in sports history. Only Wall knows what Mr. Chenier personally means to him.

But to Wizards fans in D.C. and all over the world, it wasn’t so much of a changing of the guard. But rather a continuation of the legacy that Mr. Chenier and the championship 1978 Bullets means to fans.

A respect for the past that brings such great hope for the future.

When the Celtics played the Lakers for the 2008 championship, Magic Johnson wanted to bring out the Showtime Lakers and the former Celtics champions. Larry Bird said to him, “we had our time, let them have theirs”.  That moment did not remind me of Friday.

Chenier never left the Bullets/Washington organization. When Wall embraced Chenier it was just a continuation of what this organization is trying to achieve.

Yes, both the Lakers and Celtics franchises have banners. But those five jerseys hanging up in Capital One Arena represents so much more.

Yes, it’s a business within the NBA, but seeing Chenier and Wall embrace, that wasn’t a PR move, that’s only something that you would allow family to do–walk out into center court to show love and respect.

It wasn’t rehearsed, it wasn’t planned, it was genuine love.

Only family can interrupt such a solemn occasion. So it wasn’t the Bullets time or the Wizards time. That singular moment was Chenier’s and Wall’s time.
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So, yes the Wizards lost to the Nuggets on Friday. Yes, the Wizards are fighting for playoff position.

But for that one moment we remember family isn’t perfect or always right, and we won’t win every battle that comes our way, but in the final analysis—we’re all DC Family.

But most importantly Mr. Chenier is still here working for the Wizards organization. And Wall never left, because on or off the court he is always getting ready for battle.

We still have Mr. Chenier’s smooth and calming voice to remind us how much better the Wizards can be, and Wall to show the rest of the league that we’re still here.

It was Mr. Chenier’s night. No loss, standings, or anything else could take away from someone who is bigger than basketball, and embodies everything that we should all try to be—a calming presence before, during and after a storm.

Whether the Wizards are doing well or bad, Mr. Chenier reminds us to stay cool and enjoy the game and something else we call life.

Wizards point guard John Wall says he is “feeling great” but is not sure when he will next play in a game.

Wall, who said he lost about 10 or 15 pounds during his rehab without intending to, is not planning to change his style when he returns from his latest knee surgery — whenever that might be.

“I’m just going to be John Wall,” the All-Star said Monday after the second full-contact practice of his comeback from a Jan. 31 operation. “That’s all I know how to do.”

Washington has lost three consecutive games heading into Tuesday night against the visiting San Antonio Spurs. Coach Scott Brooks said Wall will not play in that game.

“It’s getting close,” Brooks said. “He’s had two really, really good days. His energy level is high. He’s anxious. You can tell. He wants to get out there. We still want to be patient.”

Washington has dropped to sixth in the Eastern Conference at 40-33 and will have only eight games remaining after facing the Spurs.

The Wizards are 14-11 without Wall during his current absence — he last played on Jan. 25 — and 19-17 overall this season without him.

“It’s been good. It’s been bad. We’ve played well, at times. Sometimes, we haven’t played well. Like when everybody was saying that they [were] playing better without me, that was great. The good thing is, I’m glad we did win those games when we did, because if we didn’t, right now, we would be in a situation where we might not be in the playoffs,” Wall said. “I feel like everybody should have given those guys credit for playing well.”

Wall’s session with reporters on Monday was his first in Washington since having surgery on his left knee.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft out of Kentucky had surgery on both knees before last season.

This time, Brooks said, Wall has been able to do pretty much everything as usual — including dunk — in his pair of full-fledged practices.

“He’s getting his rhythm back,” Brooks said. “He can get to gaps and seams and angles not a lot of guys can get to. There’s only a handful of guys — maybe not even that — that can do it in the NBA. He’s one of the best players in the league.”

As for Wall himself?

He figures he’s ready. He’s just waiting for the official clearance from team doctors.

“When I’ve had an injury in the past, I don’t think about it. I go out there and play the same way I played before, and that’s with a lot of aggression, a lot of attacking mode, a lot of fast pace. And I’ve been doing that,” he said. “All I had to do was show that glimpse, and that showed me I was being myself again.”

Washington’s latest loss was 101-97 at home against the lowly New York Knicks on Sunday night.

“We just thought it was going to be a cakewalk,” Bradley Beal said, “and they smacked us in the mouth.”