Here are 10 thoughts after the Dunk Contest that I wanted to share with Wizards fans:
1.) Now that the Dunk Contest is over, I wonder where John Wall's dunk ranks all time. It was an impressive dunk by a point guard. He double pumped a reverse dunk while hurdling over a mascot. It was impressive and had never been done in an NBA dunk contest before. John Wall also made it on his first try so the hype was at a peak. In my opinion, this dunk was a top 5 NBA dunk contest dunk of all time.
2.) Paul George and John Wall looked like such good friends after the dunk. It reminded me of how LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh seemed like good friends early in their careers. John Wall has stated in interviews that he would like to play with another member of the 2010 draft class in DeMarcus Cousins. Could Wall, PG, and Boogie be the next Wade, LeBron, and Bosh?
3.)It could be a possiblity in a couple of years. The complicated issue is that Wall and George signed 5 year extensions while DeMarcus Cousins signed a 4 year extension. The Wizards also already have Bradley Beal paired with Wall so adding 2 other super stars may not be possible. Maybe John brings just DeMarcus Cousins instead of both of them.
4.) Regardless of if the Wizards can one day pull this off, this is what events like all star weekend are for. Players don't necessary recruit, but they definitely have conversations like "Man we should play together one day". With the all star game including younger talent, it is nice to have John Wall (and Bradley Beal for that matter) both as ambassadors for the Wizards. It isn't crazy that other young guys see two young talented players and think "Man, if you add me in with those two, we could be special."
5.) Last night was also important because it brought much needed attention to the team. Step one to being a team that deserves national attention is branding. It is important to do events like the dunk contest, 3 point contest, Rising Stars game, and All Star game because it gets casual fans to notice and become fans of players on your team. This helps lead to more nationally televised games and all star starter votes.
6.) It is wrong to think that branding is not important. All Star starter is an important recognition to casual NBA observers. Even a guy like LaVar Arrington who claims to be an insider attempted to brush off John Wall's All Star selection because he saw the word "reserve". He admitted that he didn't know "reserve" meant voted for by the coaches instead of by fans, but this simple mistake by an "insider" exemplifies the way casual fans think.
7.) If you want to be a Hall of Famer, an MVP candidate, a Defensive Player of the year candidate you have to perform on national TV. I don't think there has ever been an MVP award handed out to someone who didn't have a great game on national TV. People act like starting in the All Star game isn't important, but then it is brought up in contract talks and more importantly the Hall of Fame voting process. Bottom line is that it is important.
8.) Now, commercials, interviews, and All Star events are only one part of the process. The other part is winning. Kyrie Irving is an example of the former part (see: Uncle Drew commerical, crossing up Jennings, etc.). Stephen Curry is a perfect example of the winning part. Curry was ignored by fans and coaches until he showed up in the playoffs. All the Youtube highlights of Stephen Curry are filled with his performance against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of last year's playoffs. People began to fall in love with his shooting talent even more in the 2nd round against a contending San Antonio Spurs team. That is why Stephen Curry went from under 200,000 votes to over 1 million in a few months.
9.) To be fair, the fans must do their part as well. We can't have a bunch of Brooklyn Nets fans or Chicago Bulls fans dominate our arena in the playoffs. The Warriors had everyone wearing a bright yellow shirt for their home games and it helped build the excitement in the playoffs. The Wizards can and should do the same. Have everyone wear a white shirt for a white out home game. The excitement of the first playoff game in years would be electric. I'm talking about something like this.
10.) Now back to the branding issue. The question is can John Wall duplicate the winning part that Stephen Curry achieved? He has done a solid job this weekend with the first part of the attention process by building his brand. He has achieved what Kyrie Irving did. Now comes the final part. The Washington Wizards need to finish the last 30 games strong and make a push for the 3rd seed in the East. They have the easiest schedule left in the NBA (though that may not matter with this team) so it is a possibility. They also need to win a first round playoff game. If they can get into the 2nd round and steal a game or two from the Miami Heat, the process would be complete. The Washington Wizards will have finally arrived.