Beal: We have to find a way to finish games
Last month we learned of Otto Porter's benevolent, anonymous lunch with a homeless man. For a hot second, teammate Garrett Temple thought the mention went to the wrong Wizard.
Let's circle back to October 8, the night of Washington's preseason opener. Paul Pierce and the Brooklyn Nets were there. Earlier in the day came news of Porter's away-from-the-camera gesture. Some 24-48 hours later, the story would receive extensive media coverage. An hour or so before tipoff, the buzz had not yet reached critical mass, not even within the Wizards organization.
While speaking about Porter with a not-yet informed team employee just inside the near empty locker room, the one player nearby overheard the discussion.
"That was me," blurted Temple, who some believe shares a resemblance with the rookie forward. As eyes turned his way, the soft-spoken guard's voice trailed off, his head lowered. Unassuming on and off the court, Temple's body language mirrored that of a player throwing a pass they immediately wish they hadn't.
Turns out that a few days earlier he had a similar encounter as described in the Porter piece outside of a local Potbelly sandwich shop. Like the former Georgetown star, Temple had no plans to divulge his assistance.
Without anyone in the room to immediately confirm that indeed the 6-foot-8 Porter did what he did, initial thoughts jumped to the doppelganger angle, which Temple addressed on media day.
In the days leading up to September's training camp, the 6-foot-6 guard revealed fans in town would greet him with, “Hey, Otto.”
“I’d politely say: ‘I’m not Otto Porter. My name is Garrett Temple,’ ” Temple said.
“Otto is a nice guy, quiet guy, and we have similarities. We’re both slim. He’s a bit taller than me. We’re both fair-skinned. And they think we look alike. I don’t see it.”
Judge the facial and physical similarities for yourself. Anyway, back to the locker room. Having exposed his charitable side, Temple told of his giving moment.
"I stopped, got something to eat before the fan practice," Temple said, referring to the open session held at Verizon Center on October 5. "A woman walked in with me and a guy asked her to get him a sandwich."
The woman asked for the man's specific request. "Pizza sandwich," Temple recalled. "When we got inside, the line was kind of long so she left without buying anything. I saw the guy still out there so I got him a sandwich, chips and some water, then went and sat outside."
Temple spoke briefly with the man and a store employee about the Wizards, the upcoming season and surprisingly warm October weather. He retold the story straight, without flourish. The former basketball vagabond, who signed a one-year deal with the Wizards this offseason, didn't share his tale looking for attention. For a man raised by parents who organized and ran group homes in his native Louisiana, the act was second nature.
"I have a soft spot in my heart for the less fortunate," Temple stated, adding that his parents started an organization called Harmony Center which runs 20-25 homes in Louisiana that provide health and mental health facilities serving foster children, the developmentally disabled, and adjudicated youth and adults. Temple's father, Collis, was the first African-American basketball player at LSU where Garrett and his brother, Collis III, later played.
"I grew up around people that always had helping hands and I guess it rubbed off."
That's probably why the Potbelly sandwich scene wasn't the first of its kind since Temple joined the Wizards last Christmas.
"When I first moved to D.C., I lived downtown. Everybody asked for money," Temple said. "I used to give out money a lot. You've got to understand when is too much, but I never want to miss my blessings. I'm very blessed right now and I love to be able to share that with people when I can."
Even if they believe he's someone else.