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Wizards aren't messing around in training camp

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

A video emerged Tuesday of Gilbert Arenas, JaVale McGee and Nick Young playing paintball together during the offseason.

Coincidentally, after the Wizards' third practice in 36 hours at George Mason on Wednesday, the subject du jour was the players' no-nonsense approach so far in training camp. In successive days, coach Randy Wittman praised both their fitness and their progress.

"How in tune guys are," forward Martell Webster said when asked what has impressed him. "There's no joking around when Coach is talking. Everybody has their eyes are on Coach. Guys are taking it very serious."

It's also a reminder of how different the Wizards have become since 2010, the last time they trekked out to Fairfax to begin their preparations for the season.

"We had so many young people," Wizards third-year forward Trevor Booker said. "It was a little bit more joking around. This training camp is more serious, and I think that'll take us a long way."

Booker was one of four rookies then along with John Wall, Kevin Seraphin and Hamady Ndiaye. Ndiaye is gone along with the rest of that roster, leaving the current third-year trio as the team's longest tenured players. Bradley Beal is the lone rookie -- and he's still likely to undergo some hazing -- but even he acts far older than 19.

The new veterans -- Webster, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and even Nene -- don't know what Washington was like in recent seasons. Okafor said he didn't watch the Wizards last year. Webster did and saw how entertaining they were at times. But he also saw them choke away one second-half lead after another before winning eight of 10 games to close the season.

"How you have to view it is how bad do you want it?" Webster said. "You've got to fight for this just like you fight for air if somebody is holding you underwater. That's how important it is. When you take this game as serious as breathing, then you'll start to see that winning will come. When guys buy into the system and understand how important that is, that's when we make a step in the right direction."

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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