Ramon Sessions walked off the court as the last Washington Wizards player to complete his pregame workout routine. Several fans waited near a railing with Sharpies and cellphones. Seeing the crowd, Sessions stopped and obliged every request, but he first looked over his right shoulder to read the scoreboard. Time was running out.
Forty-seven minutes remained until the start of the Wizards’ Friday night matchup against the Toronto Raptors, and he had only seven minutes before the team meeting. Sessions hates tardiness — “that’s a big pet peeve for me.” So as he signed autographs and smiled for candids, Sessions monitored the clock.
On Sunday, another countdown begins.
The Wizards signed Sessions, 31, to a 10-day contract that expires Sunday at midnight. Since he returned to Washington, Sessions, whose first tour with Washington lasted 28 games in 2015 and a full campaign the season after, has not appeared in any of the team’s five games. And it’s not a given that he will receive minutes when the Wizards host the Indiana Pacers on Sunday evening.
“He’s a worker. He hasn’t gotten any opportunities. That might change [Sunday] night,” Coach Scott Brooks offered.
Sessions’s long and zigzagging career could be an answer to a sports trivia question — which NBA point guard has played for eight different teams, including return engagements for three teams?
He has seen highs such as setting the Milwaukee Bucks’ single-game assists record (24), as well as humble moments like his current situation. His contract with the Wizards marks the first 10-day deal of his career. Still, Sessions plans to keep riding this journey, grateful for every twist and turn.
“Man, listen. Growing up where I grew up [Myrtle Beach, S.C.], just always wanting to be in the NBA was a dream for me,” Sessions said. “I’ve been in the league for 11 years, and it’s still one of those things when I wake up, I still look back and [say], ‘Man, I’m in the NBA!’ Each day is a blessing to me, and it’s still a dream come true to be here. Being drafted in ’07 and still be playing in the NBA.
“Ten day or one day, that name on the back of the jersey means a lot to me and my family,” the 6-foot-3 Sessions said.
Sessions knew when he signed with the Wizards he would be the third point guard on the depth chart, coming on as an insurance policy while John Wall recovers from left knee surgery. Just in case a rotational point guard faced foul trouble or a twisted an ankle, Sessions would be available.
Even so, he signed on because Washington, in a way, felt like home. Sessions knew the front office and basketball operations staffers well, and that made the whirlwind first day a bit easier to handle.
On Feb. 23, Sessions had not even unpacked his luggage in his hotel room before he had to report for a physical at 8 a.m. After being examined for five hours, Sessions said he met with team president Ernie Grunfeld and Tommy Sheppard, the senior vice president of basketball operations, and signed his contract.
There was little time to celebrate. By 2:30 p.m., Sessions needed to report to the Capital One Arena floor. Although the Wizards had a game that night against one of his former teams, the Charlotte Hornets, and he certainly would remain on the sideline, Sessions still needed to learn as many plays as possible.
Do your job and stay prepared — a lesson Sessions learned his rookie season.
“Just being ready for when your time is called because you never know,” Sessions said, about the knowledge imparted to him by veteran Mo Williams.
Over the course of his career, Sessions has turned into the valued vet.
“He’s always been humble. He’s always been a true professional,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. “He’s one of those guys you look back and say he was a great teammate because of his approach to the game. His respect in the locker room. His respect for the game, coming in and getting his work in, taking care of his body, treating his other teammates with respect.”
Beal and Sessions have little in common. Beal verbally committed to the University of Florida after his sophomore season of high school. Sessions signed with the University of Nevada 17 days before classes started. Beal, the former No. 3 pick, was catered to since he first shook hands with Grunfeld. Sessions, selected 56th out of 60 players in the 2007 NBA draft, was shipped off to Tulsa, to play in the NBA Development League.
Although Beal has never experienced the life of a journeyman, he respects the way Sessions has approached his career.
“It’s tough,” Beal said. “I could only imagine going from team to team. This is his second time being back here. That’s the sign of a true professional. A guy that sticks around, then competes his butt off. Hopefully he gets an opportunity.”
On Saturday afternoon, Sessions again was the last player off the court. The team had not practiced over the previous nine days and elected for a light workout before facing the Pacers. Several players already had showered and headed to the parking garage. But inside the practice facility, basketball continued. Sessions, dripping in sweat and playing two-on-two with staffers, wanted more work. Sessions stayed an hour after practice had officially ended. He had nothing but time.
“I’m one of those guys where you couldn’t tell if it was my 11th year or my first year,” Sessions said. “I just come in and work every day like I’m still on that first-year deal. I think that’s kind of what got me here today. Where a lot of guys are probably more talented. To be here for 11 years, it’s more than talent. I just come to work every day. You couldn’t tell if I had a deal or didn’t have a deal. I’ve just always been humble.”