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Top Stories of the Week: Wizards start a tough homestretch, Ted Leonsis talks about the intersection of tech and sports

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Hope everyone had a good President’s Day holiday on Monday. Let’s get to some links!

The Wizards start 1-1 in their first two games after the All-Star Break

After a week long break, the Wizards are back for the homestretch of the 2017-18 NBA season. They kicked things off on the right foot, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-103 with Tomas Satoransky continuing his super run in February.

The good guys headed back home on Friday to host the Hornets. But in #SoWizards fashion, they got blown out 122-105. At the end of the day, the Wizards are 34-25, tied with the Pacers for fourth in the Eastern Conference. They also won eight of their last 11 games since John Wall had to sit out due to his knee injury, so I’d like to say that things are still looking bright.

Washington faces the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night at 8 p.m.

Some other news and pieces:

  • Ramon Sessions is back for his second stint in D.C., albeit on a 10-day contract.
  • Scott Allen of The Washington Post detailed about Kelly Oubre’s latest on-court prank, when he untied Rodney Hood’s shoes and gave the Cavs’ bench a kiss.
  • Allen also wrote that the Wizards are a hit on local TV. Ratings spiked by 70 percent over last year. Die hard Wizards fans may be angry that the team isn’t on a 50-win pace, but there may be several reasons. First, the Wizards have been consistently above .500 all season and never had a long losing streak ... yet. Second, there may be more interest in games because Kara Lawson is the new color analyst -- and she has a national profile. Third, the Wizards have more national television games, and that could create a spillover effect to other games.
  • Marcin Gortat may not be playing as many minutes as before. But he’s still really good at boxing out.
  • Check out Jake’s take on the remaining questions the Wizards face this regular season. Alan Jenkins also adds that the Wizards have to “get it together now” considering how inconsistent they were early on.
  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes that Wall is going back to college this summer to work on finishing his bachelor’s degree. He promised his late father that.
  • Bradley Beal scored 14 points in the All-Star Game last Sunday.
  • Finally, John Wall was asked in L.A. how things are going with Marcin Gortat now. Wall said things were “great” according to TMZ’s paparazzi.

Ted Leonsis was at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Business hosts an annual sports analytics conference at around this time of year. It’s grown from a small conference of MBA students learning from sports executives to a mega-event that the press covers.

Leonsis was one of the speakers at the 12th annual conference, where he was part of a panel on Friday about serial entrepreneurship, technology, and sports. There isn’t a video of the panel yet, but here’s some quotes from Matt Moore of The Action Network:

Leonsis isn’t shy about embracing new concepts, such as gambling and eSports. Here is a snippet of a Bloomberg interview he and his son, Zach Leonsis gave on sports gambling.

The Wizards will be one of 17 teams to create a team of NB2K players in a league that starts next year. Leonsis, already invests in Team Liquid, an eSports organization for a wide variety of games. He also stated in another Bloomberg interview earlier this week that eSports is not a “fad.”

European soccer teams have invested into this on an individual basis and have eSports leagues of their own. For example, Paris Saint-Germain has a League of Legends team, not just a team for FIFA.

Esporters have also “pranked” real life soccer stars in videos that went viral. In 2016, Dutch eSporter Koen Weijland, who plays for Ajax Amsterdam’s eSports team, traveled to Brussels to play Belgian soccer star Romelu Lukaku. But Lukaku thought he was playing Cécile De Gernier, a Belgian women’s soccer player. In the video below, Weijland talked about the experience and the contest, but it’s in Dutch (Weijland and Lukaku’s native language), and a little French (De Gernier’s native language):

I wonder if we’ll see something like this when NBA 2K19 comes out with something like this when John Wall gets pranked by an eSporter like this. That’s a cool way to do things like this.

That’s all I have for the week. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!