John Wall: Veteran teammates used to think ‘I was a joke’

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No moment encapsulates John Wall’s first few years in the NBA like JaVale McGee running back on defense with the Wizards still on offense. Wall was helpless to do anything but cup the ball and shake his head at his teammate’s ridiculousness.

Washington went 72-158 in the three seasons after drafting Wall No. 1, the NBA’s third-worst mark during that span behind only the Bobcats and Cavaliers.

But it wasn’t his fault they brought him in to play with players like McGee, Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche and Nick Young. Still, Wall’s reputation took the hit because of his lofty draft status.

There was a real worry the Wizards’ character would rub off on Wall and sabotage his promising career.

Abe Schwadron of Slam on Wall:

He remembers guys like Andre Miller, Drew Gooden and Marcin Gortat being skeptical when they first got to Washington. Until last season, Wall was known as nothing more than an exciting player on a laughable loser.

“They thought I was a joke and that I didn’t take basketball serious,” says Wall. “That’s what they thought looking in from the outside. They were looking at what I was around.”

Meticulously, the Wizards unloaded their clowns, and Wall thrived. He became an All-Star and led Washington deeper into the playoffs than its gone in decades.

Now, he’s routinely recognized as a star, not a “joke.”

Schwadron’s article is a quality look at Wall’s place in the league now, including:

Just listen to his five-year plan: “I see myself being the MVP of the League, being a Finals MVP, winning a Championship for DC, being a multiple All-Star, All-NBA team and hopefully signing another five-year deal in DC. I love playing in DC.”

It’s worth reading in full to learn why Wall’s veteran teammates came around to believing in him – and why he believes in himself.