This All-Star weekend was a great moment for the Wizards. They didn't have any all-stars, but John Wall and JaVale McGee represented their city and their team well. Wall showed that with the right players to pass to, he is going to be an elite point guard and perennial all-star. Javale really deserved to win the slam dunk contest, and I thought he showed a lot of his personality that we don't get to see as much during the season because of his shyness.
I don't want to make a federal case of this one hiccup, but I was surprised there wasn't more discussion of the way Javale was (not) supported by his team in his first shot at the spotlight on a national stage. There was nothing on TV today, so I decided to watch the dunk competition again for a look at the symbolism and body language that bothered me a bit on the first viewing.
First of all, notice who was Serge Ibaka's coach for the event. It was Kevin Durant, the ultimate classy athlete who came to support his teammate. The Wizards have Chris Webber, a fantastic power dunker but the biggest disappointment in Bullets history. Why wasn't John Wall, the captain of his team, there to support his own Scottie Pippen? Maybe I'm making too much of this, but it would have been nice to see two cornerstones of the Wizards standing together for the national cameras.
Now I will split hairs and nitpick a little more. After Daryl Dawkins uttered, "We just might rattle somebody's balls," one of the best slam dunk contests ever was on. As usual in these exhibitions, buddies sat courtside and made faces. It was funny to see Chris Webber and Javale grimacing after DeRozan's first dunk. Notice they were sitting together.
Can't let that Serge Ibaka dunk go without mention. He jumped farther than Dr. J and MJ, and he didn't get 50 points? That was an awesome dunk, and on replay he looked like a 7-footer Michael Jordan. How did he hit that on the first try? His teammate Kevin Durant was his coach. (Ok, maybe that's a little much to mention)
I gotta admit Webber's introduction was very cool, and I loved the look at Howard. The tension about Javale showing up Howard was priceless. He looked uncomfortable. He will be on a mission to whoop Javale's ass in the next game they play together. Best Barkley quote: "His arms are not that long." He missed several attempts, and Webber kept pumping up the crowd. Was that T.O. who fired him up before the last one he made? Where was John Wall? After three rewinds, I caught a glimpse of Wall sitting next to Blake Griffin, although I think he did stand and high-five his teammate. So I give you that one, John.
Ok, so the double dunk was extremely awesome. I'm sorry, that was a great dunk.
That 360 dunk from Blake was also extremely awesome.
So there they are, scanning the sideline, and John Wall and Griffith are exchanging "You da man. No, you da man"s. I did not like this when I was watching it live. This is when I noticed it and was a little perturbed. I'm one of those fans who always wants my team to support each other, and do everything short of spit on the opposing player. This is what Bird, Magic and Jordan would do. If the same situation happened to Jordan, he would have come up to Blake after that dunk and whispered in his ear, "You play on the worst team in the league, and I'm going to own you next time we meet."
Then as Blake warms up for the next dunk, we see McGee on the bench sitting next to Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. I can't tell where Wall is at this point despite several reviews of the bench. As Derozan tried his next dunk, I could see Wall was sitting next to Westbrook and Durant and his boy, Cousins. Wall gave Derozan some dap, and Javale just looked away.
Ibaka does that lame stuffed animal thing, and comes back to the bench to get encouragement from his teammate, Russell Westbrook, who owned Wall in the skills competition. Wall and McGee are sitting on either side of them, and no communication going on. Out comes Blake again, and passing to him is his teammate, Barron Davis. Blake makes that nice baseline jam after multiple tries, and gets his dap from his boi, John Wall.
Javale gets up and announces his three balls shot and brings out his mom. It was funny, and confident, and Pam McGee was lookin hot again. Yeah, I said it. How about that smacker she laid on Dr. J's lips? That was funny as hell. He was the most difficult judge.
Ok, so John Wall is out to throw the assist to his teammate. He looked disinterested out there. I didn't see any encouragement to Javale, the "Commander in Chief." I tried my best to read lips when Wall and McGee had a conversation after he made the three-ball dunk. I got the sense they were complaining about what Blake was about to do, and I could swear Wall said something like, "It's not like you're going to win." My lip reading is not guaranteed, by any means, and it might have been a motivational comment, like, the world is against us and it sucks, but that's the best I can translate.
They went to the Finals, and Javale was the points leader. Why was he "B" and Blake was "A?" Just saying.
After the last dunk, where it was incredible to see him kink his neck to keep his head about an inch from the backboard, I again saw Wall sitting next to his boi, Blake Griffin, and I saw no high five after that one. Out came the clown car. I know Javale could have jumped the roof instead of the hood.
Charles busted out, "I hate to say this, that wasn't the greatest dunk. Listen, that's like when you've got a pretty girl. She's dumb, it don't matter." Because, as we all know, Charles values substance over appearance in all his women. I again tried to read lips as Wall gave his boi props and dap again. My best guess was that Wall said, "Damn boy, that was a bad motherfucker. Damn, that was bad!" I may be 100 percent wrong again, but that's the best I can do after about a dozen rewinds and slo-mos!
My only critique of McGee was that he seemed to run out of gas after that car thing. The last dunk was nice, but dude, you gotta bring out a monster truck or something, as I saw one person suggested. I also think he still could have done the dollar bill dunk because it is more impressive than that stupid stuffed animal.
Anyway, I know I went on and on here, and I took liberties with the lip reading. My point is, so far John Wall has really impressed me with his professionalism and leadership. This didn't. Treat Javale like the Right Tackle who guards your blind side. He will be a big part of making you famous. Javale, just keep being you. Ignore the haters, even if one is on your own team.