The latest on the Dwight Howard situation

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The latest on the Dwight Howard situation

From Comcast SportsNet
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- New Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan has met face-to-face with Dwight Howard, but the team isn't commenting on what was discussed. Team spokesman Joel Glass confirmed a meeting between Hennigan and Howard, but declined to discuss any particulars from it. Howard is in California, rehabbing a late-season back surgery. Yahoo Sports and ESPN.com have reported that Howard reissued a preseason trade request in that meeting and listed the Brooklyn Nets as his preferred destination. Hennigan said last week he wanted to keep all discussions with Howard confidential, and ownership has told him only to do what is in the best interest of the organization concerning Howard. Howard gave up the opt-out clause in his contract last season and is under contract in Orlando through the 2012-13 season.

Remembering Jim Vance, a Washington institution and the city's guiding light

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NBC Washington

Remembering Jim Vance, a Washington institution and the city's guiding light

Washington, D.C. is a city of great institution, and in its human form, there was no greater institution than Jim Vance. 

For 45 years -- the longest of any newscaster in the region -- Vance treated every Washingtonian with courtesy, respect and the ability to not just read the news, but talk with you about it. The latter is an important distinction in this city, one ruled by political grandstanding and ruthless social posturing.

On Saturday, the nation's capital lost its kindest, most charismatic and respected voice of news and information, as Vance passed away at the age of 75.

I am not writing this as an employee of NBC Universal, nor am I writing this as a former intern at NBC4.  I am writing this as the son of a Washingtonian. I am writing this as a 32-year old who was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Someone who took the local bus to high school every day, the same bus adorned with his NBC4 headshot.

I am writing this as someone who loves Washington, D.C. as not the seat of American politics, but the greatest local community in the country.

And Vance was the face and the voice of the local community.

But what made Vance great was not what he did, but how he did it.

Vance was as charming a newscaster as you will ever see. He was polite but direct. He could make you laugh and make you cry. He made you care about the community, whether you grew up on a metro line or simply spent a summer interning on one.

I did not know Jim Vance on a personal level. I met him on several occasions as an intern, and as incredible of a journalist as he was, what always shined was his urbane sophistication and truly warm demeanor.

He was the same person on television as he was in the newsroom, and was that very same person when you ran into him at the local florist. He was Washington D.C.'s guiding light. The city's voice of knowledge and community.

It's why despite hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians not knowing Jim Vance on a personal level, each and everyone felt like he was a part of their extended family.

We welcomed him into our houses every day.

We discussed the local happenings and important world issues.

We groaned when local teams were eliminated from the playoffs and shared imaginary yet all-too-real hi-fives when the teams won. 

He wasn't just a newscaster. He was a Washingtonian. He was the guy whose photo you saw on the wall at local delis and the guy who stood behind you in-line at the very same place. 

Death is human, but influence is forever. Jim Vance truly is a Washington institution, one that will never die.

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John Wall and Wizards' partnership is a display of commitment rarely seen

John Wall and Wizards' partnership is a display of commitment rarely seen

No player has defined the Washington Wizards organization since they rebranded 20 years ago quite like John Wall, a superstar point guard who has developed from a first overall pick into a perennial All-Star and pillar of playoff success. Wall has etched a unique legacy within the franchise's history in just seven NBA seasons. Now he has ensured them of at least six more.

It's the yearly terms that stand out most in Wall's new contract with the Wizards, a four-year extension worth $170 million. Four years does not sound long, but that will take Wall through at least the majority, if not all, of his prime. He will enter his Age 27 season this fall, but with two years left on his current deal Wall's new contract will keep him in Washington through 2023. He will be 32 by the time it expires.

If Wall complets those 13 seasons with the Wizards, barring a trade or something unforeseen, he will have played as long for one team as Wes Unseld (Bullets), Larry Bird (Celtics), Kevin McHale (Celtics), Magic Johnson (Lakers) and Isaiah Thomas (Pistons). Dwyane Wade spent 13 seasons with the Heat before leaving. Michael Jordan played 13 in Chicago. 

Among active players, only Dirk Nowitzki (Mavs, 19 years), Tony Parker (Spurs, 16), Manu Ginobli (Spurs, 15) and Udonis Haslem (Heat, 14) have been with one team longer than 13 years.

[RELATED: NBA reacts to John Wall's new contract]

Only Unseld has spent more than nine seasons with the Wizards/Bullets franchise. Wall is two years away from matching the six players tied for second with nine seasons including Phil Chenier, Gus Johnson and Elvin Hayes. Those guys were all Bullets. Wall is a Wizard through and through.

Evaluating this partnership from Wall's perspective is interesting. Naturally, the Wizards would be willing to retain him for the longhaul. He is one of the best players in the NBA and has the off-court comportment any team would covet as the face of their franchise. But for Wall to make this commitment is a rare display of loyalty in an age where NBA superstars jump teams like never before.

Loyalty may not be the perfect word, as ultimately Wall will make much more money in Washington than he could elsewhere. But his devotion to the city of Washington and finishing what he started with a franchise that has experienced many lean years for decades is nearly unparalleled in this day and age. 

Think about it. How many players in today's NBA more define the franchise they play for, not just in contemporary terms but in the team's history? Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City, Paul George left Indiana, Gordon Hayward left Utah and Chris Paul left the Clippers, all within the last 13 months. Meanwhile, Wall has never wavered publicly about his commitment to the Wizards.

[RELATED: Is Washington a basketball destination now?]

Wall's firm allegiance to the Wizards has helped the team hold up a point majority owner Ted Leonsis made during Wednesday's press conference to announce Otto Porter's own max contract, that he prefers "no drama" in contract negotiations. He boasted how there was no drama in Wall's first max deal signed back in 2013, nor was there any with Bradley Beal last summer or Porter this year. Now, with Wall's second contract, the Wizards have been able to get these deals done without any sort of realistic doubt for fans about their favorite players leaving. That is no small feat.

That is of course in great contrast with many NBA superstars between Dwight Howard's days in Orlando, Paul's time in New Orleans, Carmelo Anthony's tenure in both Denver and New York, LeBron James in both of his stints in Cleveland, etc. Some of those players left, some didn't. But all had drama that lasted for years and weighed heavily on everyone involved.

Wizards fans, on the other hand, had no serious fear of seeing Wall go. That is an unusual sense of security in most places but even more so in the city of Washington. Between Kirk Cousins and Bryce Harper, the thought of losing a franchise cornerstone is a very real thing for D.C. fans. Cousins and Harper have done nothing wrong and they shouldn't be faulted for playing their hand in what is ultimately a cutthroat business, but it's hard not to notice how Wall has gone out of his way to make D.C. his home, embracing the city in every sense.

Keeping great players and the longevity of stardom is something even more foreign to those who have rooted for the Bullets and Wizards over the last few decades. It's not that they haven't acquired superstars, they just haven't been able to keep them.

Chris Webber could end up in the Hall of Fame someday, but Washington traded him at the beginning of his prime. Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace all became stars after leaving D.C. and helped win a championship for the Detroit Pistons. Gilbert Arenas was a sensation, but his tenure was brief and ultimately catastrophic. 

Wall's career in Washington has already gone much differently than those. And because of his new contract, fans can dream about the future knowing he will be a part of it.

[RELATED: Wizards are building something special in Eastern Conference]