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NBA legend Magic Johnson sprinkles 'priceless' wisdom in Commanders locker room


Legendary NBA star and businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson joined Managing Partner Josh Harris at the Washington Commanders' practice on Wednesday, taking the opportunity to talk to the team before their home opener this Sunday.

Johnson stopped by the team meeting before practice, giving him more time with the team as the franchise approaches its first official gameday under new ownership. He shared aspects of his career and how both have culminated him into the person he is today.

And in turn, the players were able to ask him questions.

"We were able to pick his brain," said starting quarterback Sam Howell. "We're just so fortunate as players to have a guy like that as a part of this organization, who has an open door, and he's always willing to help us with any questions we might have."

For Howell, who was named a captain earlier this week, his questions were not about himself or even about Johnson, but advice that could help him lead this team to a bright future. Howell said he asked about what those winning teams have in common.

"He just talked about how they believed in each other," Howell said. "And they stuck together as a team, and they policed each other and always held each other accountable. It was definitely just so much good information that he gave our team."

Johnson has five NBA Championships under his belt, along with being awarded three Finals MVP Awards. His advice comes with a significant weight that the team took to heart and is ready to carry forward.

"He was basically just giving us words of encouragement, making sure that we stay focused and disciplined, different things like that," Jahan Dotson said. "And what it takes to be a champion at the highest level. He did it in the NBA- the highest level of basketball, and he was on some great teams. And he said the main message was, your team is led by the players."

With just four days until their skills are tested, the team absorbs all the information they can get. There's a delicate balance of feeling good after an undefeated preseason and not letting that breed overconfidence. A game is still a game, especially something as important as a home season opener after so many internal organizational changes.

"Honestly he just felt like one of the guys," Kendall Fuller said. "You could talk to him about basketball, talk to him about anything. I talked to him about his faith and stuff like that. Just to be able to ask him different questions and seek his knowledge, things like that which is big, and I know we all appreciate it."

Knowledge from a legend like Johnson leaves players stepping onto the field on the right foot. Johnson is a part of the Commanders' ownership group, which purchased the team this past July- just in time for a fresh season of new beginnings. Johnson has spoken publicly about how much this means to him and how the velocity of something like this comes with real responsibility.

His arrival and legendary leadership pairs well with Wednesday's announcement of the 2023 team captains: Quarterback Sam Howell, wide receiver Terry McLaurin, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, cornerback Kendall Fuller, safety Jeremy Reaves and punter Tress Way.

Many of the Commanders players grew up hearing about the legends of Johnson from relatives and how significant of an impact he had on the NBA and sports industry.

"That's a guy that's done things at a high level for years and one of the best to ever do it in his profession," Jeremy Reaves said. "And just to see him in the flesh, not to hear it on TV or read about it. Just to see him in the flesh and be able to hear those words and interact with him that's something that's priceless. It's pre-game wisdom experience that you know you can't buy."

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