By: Joe Cardoso
I LOVE the NBA. The league is always on the move, whether that’s trades, social justice stances, or technology and presentation. As some of us got ready for a nightcap, we were hit with a trade that we thought was dead, and that was the Washington Wizards moving former number one pick John Wall and a protected 1st round pick to the Houston Rockets for former MVP and the highly intense Russell Westbrook. These are two guards that, what seems like yesterday, had next in the line of league superstars. But injuries, bad PR and refusing to adapt their games have affected both and how fans and, more importantly, GM’s see them.
John Wall will be remembered as a DC sports legend. Most of that will be because of the outstanding and selfless things he has done in the community. From backpacks for children in need to rent help and making families holidays a bit brighter, he never forgot what type of environment he came from. He knew what his help could and does mean. I fully expect him to add the people of Houston to the list of those that he will help while continuing his DC and Raleigh efforts.
On the court, Wall also helped others. Marcin Gortat better have a nice floral agreement coming to Wall as a thank you for getting him PAID. The pick and roll those two shared was deadly. Wizards fans never really got to see a 100% John Wall. Now, before you scream at me that all athletes get hurt, you are right and wrong. Nagging injuries you can play through are one thing BUT injuries that rob you of skill are different. That is what you got. Let’s take a look, shall we?
June 24, 2010: The Wizards select Wall with the first pick in the 2010 NBA Draft after he played one year at Kentucky.
Sept. 28, 2012: Diagnosed with a non-traumatic stress injury in his left knee during pre-season, Wall misses the first 33 games of the season. Wizards were 5-28 during that stretch and went 24-25 when he returned.
July 31, 2013: Despite not yet making an All-Star game and missing roughly a quarter of the NBA games early in his career, the Wizards sign Wall to a maximum contract extension worth $80 million over five years.
January 22, 2015: Named an All-Star starter for the first time in his career, Wall became the franchise’s first player named an All-Star starter since Gilbert Arenas in 2007.
May 5, 2016: Undergoes a procedure on both of his knees. His left was to ‘excise calcific deposits’ to ease the pain and his right was to remove ‘loose bodies.’
July 26, 2017: Wall signs a four-year, $170 million contract extension with the Wizards. He would play in just 73 games due to injuries.
Nov. 16, 2017: MRI after left knee discomfort. He received PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections to reduce inflammation and missed nine games from Nov. 23 to Dec. 13.
January 30, 2018: Consulted with knee specialist for a procedure on his left knee to ‘clean up’ the area and ease the pain. Expected to miss six-to-eight weeks after already missing a game.
December 29, 2018: Wall sees a specialist to deal with reoccurring pain in his left heel, decides to have surgery to fix his discomfort. It is expected that he will miss 6-8 months, ending his season. Before the announcement of the injury, Wall missed four games in a four-week span.
February 5, 2019: Wizards announce that Wall will have surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Those aren’t “just tough it out” injuries. For a player who is one of the fastest guards with a ball in his hands that I’ve ever seen, they matter a LOT. In the years that he missed games, we saw Bradley Beal grow. He became an elite player and leader of this team. He showed his faith in the team’s direction and signed his own contract extension. Now it’s on Washington to show that they mean business and make moves to improve the team. The Rockets give Wall a chance to get a fresh start and prove to himself, and doubters, that the lightning quick pg is back and better than ever. For Russell Westbrook, the former MVP is giving off some late-career Allen Iverson vibes. He needs to adapt his game a bit and stay healthy.
I am a BIG fan of his passion and what he brings to a team. He shows up nightly. The man is an uber competitor and has no slow down in him. Looking at the Washington roster on paper, hoop heads would think this is a good look for Brodie. For him, he will have the ball in his hand with shooters all around. But can he limit the bad shots? As he did for a while with OKC, can he accept that this is Bradley Beal’s squad? Is it possible that his shooting improves this late into his career? There will be no real winner in this trade until we see the product on the floor. I will say if the Rockets get the 2015-16 version of Wall then Wizards fans need to be upset that we missed on his 2nd act.
Thank you, John Wall. Thank you for an era of dougies, chase down blocks and a funeral game. Thank you for showing me how to use a platform to help others. To Russell Westbrook, welcome to the DMV! Let’s work and get back into the playoffs. Good luck, John Wall and Russell Westbrook!