Injuries have slowed down John Wall since he signed a four-year, $170MM extension with the Wizards in 2017, but he tells Michael Lee of The Athletic that he’s not interested in a fresh start with a different team.
Wall has been limited to a combined 73 games over the past two years, and he may miss the entire upcoming season while recovering from an Achilles tear. There have been rumors that Washington might try to unload Wall’s contract, but he prefers to stay with the franchise that drafted him.
“I love where I’m at. I love D.C. My loyalty is to D.C.,” Wall said. “To hear a lot of Wizards people, Tommy (Sheppard, the new general manager), (managing partner) Ted Leonsis and (Monumental Sports and Entertainment senior vice president) Zach Leonsis and all those guys, the whole community is behind me, and they’re not giving up on me, so that’s big for me.
“I’m not one of those guys that wants to play for multiple teams. I want to play for one organization. If it comes down to it, where you have to move around, and it don’t work, they’re giving me the opportunity to come back, not this year but next year after, if I don’t play well, you trade me. I can’t be mad at nobody because they gave me the opportunity and I gave myself a chance to prove myself. That’s all I ask for.”
Wall touches on several subjects during the wide-ranging interview. Here are a few more highlights:
On his sometimes rocky relationship with backcourt partner Bradley Beal:
“Me and Brad are brothers. I tell everybody, you’ve got two young guys that’s so talented. Who ain’t going to bump heads at some time? We both want to be great. We both want to take the last shot. But we built that type of bond. Brad is so mature for his age, you wouldn’t expect for him to be the age he is, but give a lot of credit to his parents and his brothers that raised him. I feel like we need one more shot. We need one more run at it. But we’ve got to add some pieces around us, some dogs that can go to war with us. I mean, me and him together, we can go against anybody.”
On the Wizards’ moves this summer that seem to be building around Beal:
“I’ve known Brad for years before he came into the league. When Brad didn’t make All-Star that one year, I said, ‘It’s crazy, he should’ve made it.’ I was vouching for him every day. It’s going to be times on the court; he don’t pass me the ball, I don’t pass him the ball. We’re going to disagree. It happens. It’s basketball. But put him in that platform, this is what he needs; this is what he should be. This is the type of rise, popular spot that Brad deserves, even if I’m there or not there. When I come back, give him the same treatment, because he deserves it. He’s put in the work. He’s earned it. You’ve seen it from Day 1. Even when John Wall is playing, John Wall is not playing. Give him that same stuff, whether I’m there or not there. He don’t have to be in the shadow. I’m the franchise guy because, yeah, I was here before him. He’s right there. There’s no John Wall without Bradley Beal. There’s no Bradley Beal without John Wall. It’s that simple. And I got nothing to hide to say that. I’m a talented basketball player. That ain’t going to get accomplished if we’re not together.”
On criticism from social media:
“It fuels me. (The) ’16/17 (season) was my best year. (Averaged) 23 (points) and 11 (assists). John Wall is a top-two point guard. I get injured. John Wall is not a top-five point guard? Now, because I’m injured, I can’t defend myself. Now I’ve got the worst contract ever? That’s fine. I deserved that contract. My whole mindset is – it’s in my notes – I didn’t deserve it? When I come back, I’m going to show them I earned it. I never want a handout. I always worked for mine.”
On dealing with an extended injury:
“The one thing I take from this is never take the game for granted. Never. Never. Never. I can’t control injuries. They happen. You can’t. Some people are healthy forever. Some are not. But don’t ever take the game for granted. I never did that. But I just started jogging. For five months. I couldn’t do nothing. I couldn’t walk. I’m thankful that I can jog and walk. And play basketball. … But if the basketball stop bouncing today, the Washington Wizards are going to get their franchise guy. And John Wall, if he stopped playing basketball today, they’ll get a new guy. If John Wall retires tomorrow, the NBA is going to keep going on. I ain’t God. It ain’t going to stop. But I’m doing what I can while I’m here, and enjoying the process. I can’t wait to get back. I got a lot of fire in my belly. I’m itching. I’m itching to get back.”