Otto Porter still goes back to his true hometown of Sikeston, Mo. each chance he gets, often to refurbish classic cars with his family, but the Wizards forward has lived in Washington, D.C. long enough to consider the nation's capital his home, too. After starring at Georgetown University in northwest Washington from 2011 through 2013, Porter has been a member of the Washington Wizards for the past four seasons, still playing his home games at the same place he did in college, at the Verizon Center.
Porter, 24, seriously considered leaving Washington when they allowed him to become a restricted free agent in early July. He met with the Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets, the latter of which made him a contract offer. But the Wizards ultimately matched their number of $106.5 million and in doing so kept Porter in a place he knows well.
"I’m so excited to be back," Porter said. "This is my hometown. This is where I grew up outside of back in Missouri. This is where I learned everything that I know now."
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Porter sat at the podium of the press conference to announce his new deal last week wearing a grey Glen plaid suit. Next to him was majority owner Ted Leonsis, also a Georgetown alum who has now been watching and rooting for Porter for six years going back to his college days.
Leonsis joked that he knew Porter was special when watching him in "Big East Tournaments and against Syracuse."
But the connection goes deeper than that. Leonsis had and still has a few contacts at the school he can ask about Porter.
"Coach [John] Thompson [III] made a comment when we drafted Otto that was pretty prophetic," Leonsis said. "He said there are some players that are high maintenance, there are some players that are low maintenance and Otto is no maintenance. You need that in a team. You just need to have players that are selfless and they’re not egoless, but they understand their role and that they embrace that. Though the league has changed so dramatically in the few years that I’ve been the majority owner of the team where your skill, talent, three-point shooting and running the floor; it’s almost positionless. All teams need a player like Otto."
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Leonsis continued to drop an important name in the Georgetown community.
"I’ll tell you another story. I saw [school president] Jack DeGioia last week at an event. He said congratulations and thank you on Otto. I said ‘yeah, I think of it as a alumni that you can cultivate to give back to the school.’ And Jack said Otto’s already been generous with the school. I didn’t know that. Otto has already been supportive. I think that just speaks volumes that he didn’t wait until his max deal to give back to his alma mater, so I was very proud of that."
Porter is originally from Missouri, but clearly his D.C. connections run deep. He has been around long enough to understand the locals' desire for a true winner. No D.C. major sports team (Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, Nationals) has won a title since the Skins won the Super Bowl in 1992. None of them have even made the semifinals of their league since 1998.
"I’m hoping to bring a championship to the city because we need it desperately. I’m very excited," Porter said.
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