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Justin Bieber visits practice, Jordan Crawford rests sore ankle

I’ve got game. No, really… (Reuters)


A few hours before taking over Verizon Center, pop music sensation Justin Bieber paid a visit to Wizards practice, peeking down from the railing above the court. Martell Webster and John Wall had a chance to meet with Bieber, who is only 10 months younger than rookie Bradley Beal.

Bieber later sent out a message to his 29 million-plus Twitter followers that read, “pre-concert warmup. ballin with the wizards. #DC”

The pint-sized pop star didn’t actually hit the court, though A.J. Price said he would’ve liked to have seen the youngster come down in some shorts and high tops to show Bieber a few things. As assistant coach Sam Cassell headed to the locker room after practice, he shouted, “I got Bieber fever!”

The Wizards still don’t have an answer for what has ailed them in their first two losses, or a cure for an injury bug that continues to take out players as the team already deals with the absence of Wall and Nene.

Jordan Crawford, who has led the team in scoring the first two games, didn’t practice as he continues to recover from a sprained left ankle that he suffered in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 89-86 loss to Boston in Saturday’s home opener.

Coach Randy Wittman wasn’t sure if he would have Crawford available when the team has a rematch in Boston on Wednesday.

“Can’t give you a yes or no,” Wittman said. “It’s got some swelling. It’s a concern but its gotten a lot better from Saturday. He was in here all day with treatment, he’ll be in here all day today, and we’ll see where we are” on Tuesday.

Crawford scored 21 points in the loss but was held scoreless when he returned for the final five minutes of the game. He said his ankle is still “sore” but was optimistic that he would be ready to go against the Celtics.

“I’m going to play,” he said. “That’s how I’m taking it. I’m going to get right. Training staff is doing a good job. It’s not that bad… I knew it was going to swell up, but it’s early in the season, just want to be easy on it, take my time, so I can be healthy throughout the year.”

Wittman appears set on keeping Crawford as the backup shooting guard for now behind rookie Bradley Beal, who has yet to find an offensive rhythm in first two games. Crawford started 32 games last season, but Wittman likes him in a reserve role.

“I like what he gives us, that punch off the bench,” Wittman said. “I don’t have to worry about him running up and down the floor three or four times to get a sweat breaking and to get in the groove. That’s who he is and that’s a good weapon to have.”

After saying that he would contemplate making some adjustments after his starting unit fell into an early 17-2 hole against Boston, Wittman acknowledged that patience is probably the best course with so many new and unfamiliar parts.

“You want guys to understand their roles, what’s expected of them, you’ve got to give that time,” Wittman said. “If I’m going to sit here on the third day and say, ‘Okay, we’re going to start five new players or three new players,’ I don’t know if I’m sending them the right message. Now, if it doesn’t improve, then that’s a decision I’ve got to go with, but right now I want to have trust in them that they’re going to try to fight through and do the right things.” 

Wittman ended his conversation with reporters when he was asked if he had “Bieber fever.”

“I know who he is,” Wittman said as he walked away.

Webster said his daughter planned on attending the concert. “I said what up to him. I definitely respect him as an artist. I respect what he does, so I said, ‘Hi.’ My daughter has Bieber fever. I don’t.”

Crawford isn’t a fan of Bieber or his music, but couldn’t help but ignore his celebrity as he drove to practice and pre-teen girls surrounded the arena holding signs and screaming.

“He’s a popular guy,” Crawford said. “I seen all the little girls in there waiting on him before practice. So, you know, it’s definitely here.”

When asked if he was sure if the fans weren’t waiting for him, Crawford had a long laugh before saying, “Nah. Not them young ones.”


Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.



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Michael Lee · November 5, 2012

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