The power of Twitter
For all of the parades, fanfare and celebration that took place when John Wall was officially unveiled this past summer, the honeymoon phase has seemingly passed.
The realities of the NBA season have set in.
After a hot start that saw Wall fall one steal short of a triple-double during the home-opener, he reached that goal against Houston eight days later, joining Magic Johnson as the only two players in league history to record the statistical milestone within their first six games.
Since then Wall has missed 12 out of the teams 32 games, and appears to be playing hurt since returning from his injury. Problems with bruising in his knee and foot have certainly affected his play on the court. Other issues such as a 16-game road losing streak, as well as turmoil within the team, also seem to be waning on the young point guard.
On News Years day, Wall reached out via Twitter to someone who has experienced the struggles of a young team in transition; 2009-2010 scoring champ and MVP runner-up Kevin Durant.
Just like Wall, Durant was highly touted to be a franchise player who would thus be picked at the top of their respective drafts. Durant went on to lead all rookies in scoring before eventually winning the 2007-2008 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Though his team is now considered to be a model franchise, many forget that they were only 20-62 during Durant’s rookie year.
Their conversation went as follows:
Jimmywa11 (John Wall): wat up bro
@Jimmywa11 wussup boi
Jimmywa11: @KDthunderup nm man just chillin in Indy got a game tomorrow…u?
KDthunderup: @Jimmywa11 jus chillin man, u know how it go…we got a game tomorrow too
Jimmywa11: @KDthunderup ok keep doin work
KDthunderup: @Jimmywa11 u too bruh
These kind of conversations are usually reserved for private text messages and don’t usually play out for thousands of people to read. Given this opportunity, it’s intriguing to see Wall reach out to someone outside of his own team to dish out some praise and unavoidability get some back. And as a fan, it’s encouraging to see this kind of interaction.
Ever since Irene Pollin drew the winning lottery ball that granted the Wiz the first overall picks in this year’s draft, there has been concern over negative influences within the team affecting and possibly impeding the progress of John Wall. To his credit, Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfield has acted on them by trading away fallen star Gilbert Arenas, and more recently making starting forward Andray Blatche available on the trade block after a fight outside of a local nightclub.
But if you had to sum up the Wizards season to date, dysfunctional would be a fitting description.
The Oklahoma City Thunder— and their G.M. Sam Presti— deserve a lot of credit for turning that franchise around in such a short period of time considering that they are in the Western Conference.
While boasting one the leagues youngest rosters, the Thunder have also significantly trimmed their salaries. As it stands, there are only five teams with a lower cap number than Oklahoma City, and all but one (The Chicago Bulls) are teams that are considered to be rebuilding.
Front office moves are not enough to produce a contender though; in Kevin Durant the Thunder found a player who became the catalyst for the team’s transition from construction to contenders.
Many believe the Wizards should look at how the Thunder built their team; I think it’s just as important that John Wall pays careful attention to Kevin Durant and how he has developed as a player and role model. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt:
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
Durant’s primary concern is his team and their improvement. He doesn’t spend his time shooting commercials and partying like a celebrity. As he said last October after declining an invitation to party with LeBron James before their teams met,
"I don't go out to parties the day before a game," Durant told the Oklahoman. "I really don't go out too much during the season."
Here’s to hoping that Kevin Durant and John Wall remain close, and that Wall stays as far away from that diva from Akron as possible, both in distance and character.
As for the concerns about the Wizards team and their record, it’s not time to panic yet. What did we expect? We knew that rebuilding meant this team would suffer now in order to succeed in the future.
Lets not get caught up in the moment and forget there is a bigger picture.
Follow @WizardsExtreme.com and Aj Atayee at @atayeeeee