Rookie John Wall becoming new NBA star

Mark O'Neil

The Dos Equis guy has some serious competition. Yes, he is smooth. Yes, he has excellent

facial hair. Sharks have a week dedicated to him. But can he pull off a dougie-themed intro

at his home opener? He may not, but John Wall sure can. The rookie sensation has taken the

basketball world by storm and is quickly turning into one of the biggest storylines of the young

season. And on top of his dazzling on-court skills, he’s also a pretty interesting guy.

The reasons to watch the Washington Wizards are few and far between. Last year, the team

struggled to a 26-56 season that included lowlights such as a 16-game losing streak and Gilbert

Arenas brandishing guns in the team’s locker room. While the team has made for quite the off-

court comedy, the on-court entertainment value isn’t quite up to par. The Wizards’ starting

lineup, without Wall, isn’t exactly murderer’s row. The lineup currently consist of Wall, Kirk

Hinrich, Al Thornton, Andray Blatche, and JaVale McGee. If you’ve even heard of those last two

guys, you’re either a diehard Wizards fan or just have way too much free time on your hands.

However, things are turning around this year. While the team is off to a somewhat

disappointing 1-4 start, there is an energy in Washington that is almost entirely due to the

arrival of Wall. Wall has failed to disappoint so far this season, as he is leading the team in

points, assists, and steals, as he is only half an assist away from averaging a double-double this

year. Not only that, but he is bringing a positive energy to a team that last year struggled to

find anything to hang their coat on. In the Wizards’ only win this season, a 116-115 overtime

thriller against the 76ers, Wall carried the team on his back, going for 29 points, 13 assists, and

9 steals. Not too shabby for the kid’s third game in the league and his first game in front of the

hometown fans.

Aside from his on-court performance, Wall has energized Wizards’ fans with his larger-than-life

personality and his youthful enthusiasm. As he was being introduced against the 76ers, doing

a combination dance of the “dougie” and his own patented “John Wall dance”, the announcers

commented that, “”Once he gets over his shyness he’s gonna be something else isn’t he?” Wall

is barely twenty years old, and yet is carrying the entire hopes of the Wizards organization on

his back.

Wall’s year has been just as interesting off the court. In late June of this year, D.C. mayor

Adrian Fenty declared June 25th to be “John Wall Day” in the city. Just two days earlier, Wall

signed a $25 million, 5-year deal to be the lead spokesperson for Reebok, taking over a role that

had previously been handed to Allen Iverson. The trailer for the videogame “NBA 2k11” shows

clips of Wall doing the dance, which was actually not invented by him but popularized by the

phenom. Even Magic Johnson was caught doing the dance last year. Wall has started a pop-

culture craze, and he doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

As with every megastar, Wall has his detractors. They claim his ego is too big, he dances too

much, and that for all his great play, he still creates too many turnovers. These detractors need

to keep a few things in mind. During his time in Washington, Wall has kept the dancing to a

minimum, and only showed off his moves at the home opener at the urging of assistant coach

Sam Cassel. And for those who comment on the fact that he is somewhat turnover-prone, I

hope that they all remember that this is coming from somebody who is barely removed from

being a kid. Wall spent a single year in college and has played only five games in the NBA.

When the intolerable Colin Cowherd alluded to the fact that Rajon Rondo managed 17 assists

without a single turnover, he forgot the fact that Rondo has been in the league for 4 years. In

Rondo’s first five games, he managed a dazzling 9 assists to his 5 turnovers, numbers that pale

in comparison to Wall in both magnitude and ratio. Yes, Wall is not a fully polished product.

However, he has shown that he has what it takes to compete in this league, as well as bring

new life to a dying basketball city. He may not yet be the most interesting man in the NBA,

but he is on his way. Let Wall be an example for all NBA GM’s. If you get the chance to draft

someone like Wall, with amazing potential and larger-than-life personality, go for it. At least

you’ll get a few laughs along the way.