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Uncle Al heads to China, eyes future return to Wizards as a coach

In a single Instagram post posted yesterday, Al Harrington announced his decision to play in China next season, offered his farewells, shouted out the Wizards brass whilst spelling Randy Wittman’s name wrong, gave some love to his fans in the DMV, and promised the city of D.C. great things to come for the Washington Wizards.

uncle al china

And according to this Jared Zwerling Twitter post, Harrington plans on returning to the Wizards once his basketball career is over, as a member of the coaching staff.

But as Harrington departs for China, he leaves behind a single season in DC marked by great influence in the locker room, decent production (for his age and minutes) on the floor, and not to mention helping to stamp one of the more renowned nicknames given to a trio of players in the NBA: the AARP Unit, made up of Harrington, Drew Gooden, and Andre Miller.

As heard in this interview with the media after signing with the Wizards, Harrington was clear of what his role would be with the team and was even more clear of the direction the team was going: the NBA playoffs.

“I really believe this is a playoff team.” — Al Harrington, August 2013

Harrington’s tenure as a Wizard started off pretty decently before getting shelved for his recurring knee issues. In the first seven games of the season, Uncle Al averaged 7.9 points per game and knocked down 12 of his 28 3-point shots. Two games before the injury, Harrington tied a season-high of four made 3’s against the Brooklyn Nets.

Harrington, however, wouldn’t allow his injury to bar him from making his presence felt on the team. With the Wizards comprised of many young bucks, including its top two players aged under 24, Uncle smartly conducted himself as a coaching figure, and even considering himself a player/coach.

“I’m an assistant coach, you didn’t know that? I just wear the uniform. I’ve been coaching my ass off…

…those guys reach out to me and ask for advice. Nene is like, ‘Guys are guarding me this way. How can I get into the middle?’ Usually I have an answer for him. Something I can help him out with. I want to stay in basketball when I’m done playing. This may be a cool segue to see if I got it. I always said I never wanted to coach but these last couple weeks in my little role to help the guys out I feel I might be possibly a good coach. We’ll see.”

Harrington would return to the hardwood in February and averaged 6.3 ppg in his final 27 games. He knocked down 22 total 3’s during that span and helped the Wizards finish the season with an 18-9 record heading into the postseason. In the playoff-clinching win over the Celtics at the Verizon Center, Harrington contributed by knocking down a few long balls and creating a fool out of Kelly Olynyk:

After their 2nd round dismissal to the Pacers, Harrington continued tweaking his coaching skills by assisting Sam Cassell during Wizards Summer League minicamp in June. And much like during the regular season, the players were all very receptive of his vocal presence. Glen Rice, Jr. in particular noted Harrington’s prowess as a leader and expressed the convenience of a proven veteran offering advice.

Harrington’s sentiments about the Wizards clearly marks the direction the team is going. His passion for being involved in the growth and development of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Glen Rice proves the brightness of the team’s future. His ambition to be part of Wittman’s coaching staff reflects the respect they’ve earned.

So, good luck to you Uncle Al. Soak in the warm Fujian climate, indulge in all the silky tofu blocks you can handle, and cap off your basketball career with continued success. See you on the Verizon bench soon, bruh.

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