John Wall is using this season as his coming out party to show everyone that he is the best point guard in the league. That's right, I said it. There is so much on the line for his first All-Star game. Can he put on a show and distinguish himself to the NBA world for good?
When John was finally named to the team, I was hyped for him and for the Wizards. Then I thought back to All-Star games of the past. Much like any trip down memory lane with this franchise, the road was bumpy. I started thinking of all the lackluster performances by former DC All-Stars. I thought of Gilbert Arenas, who was "nervous" as he bricked himself into a forgettable trio of performances. You could pretty easily forget that Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler played in the games. There was Michael Jordan, who doesn't really belong to us.
The question is this: Will John Wall be the Gilbert Arenas of All-Stars, or the Wes Unseld?
The easiest answer is neither, because Unseld was not only an All-Star in his rookie year of 1969 but also MVP of the league. It still amazes me to go back and look at all of his accolades. Arenas, on the other hand, flamed out in the All-Star games after absolutely amazeballs performances as a rookie and sophomore. The likelihood of Wall dropping 30 points and being named MVP of a game on All-Star weekend, as Arenas was in the 2003 Rookie-Sophmore game, is pretty slim.
John Wall can do far better than that, though. He can literally mark a historical turning point where the Wizards waved a magic wand to behold a Golden Era of Basketball. He can do what Gilbert Arenas never did. He can set the tone for the future that Wizards in the All-Star game is not only routine, but memorable.
Close your laptop and try to remember the last great All-Star performance by a member of our DC squad. I'll wait. Was it Arenas in 2007? Nope. Michael Jordan in 2002? No. How about Chris Webber in 1997 or Juwan Howard in 1996? Hell no!
You have to go back to Moses Malone in 1987, who scored a career-high (in 12 All-Star appearances) 27 points on 11-19 shooting with 18 rebounds. That was also the highest-scoring All-Star game in NBA history. Michael Jordan won his first dunk contest that year.
Here's a list of the last 20 years of suckitude for Wizards and Bullets All-Stars, compliments of basketball-reference.com. It's a sad tale of enough bricks to build a new Verizon Center:
2014: John Wall (??)
2008: Caron Butler (injured), Antawn Jamison (2 pts on 1-3 shooting)
2007: Gilbert Arenas (8 pts on 3-8 shooting), Caron Butler (2 pts on 1-7 shooting)
2006: Gilbert Arenas (1 pt on 0-4 shooting)
2005: Gilbert Arenas (7 pts on 3-11 shooting), Antawn Jamison (5 pts on 2-5 shooting)
2003: Michael Jordan (20 pts on 9-27 shooting)
2002: Michael Jordan (8 pts on 4-13 shooting)
1997: Chris Webber (2 pts on 1-4 shooting)
1996: Juwan Howard 2 pts on 1-5 shooting)
Old timers worth mentioning: Bernard King in 1991, Moses Malone in 1987 and 1988, Elvin Hayes in 1976-80, Phil Chenier in 1974, 1975, 1977, Wes Unseld in 1969 (MVP in rookie year), 1971-73, 1975.
Before I go on, let me state for the record that we have had some memorable performance in other All-Star festivities.
There was the Javale McGee friggin unbelievable 2011 dunk contest where he got robbed by that stupid-ass Kia commercial.
There was Timmy Legler winning the 3 Point Contest in 1996. You want to watch that one, don't you? You know you do.
1996 NBA Three Point Contest (via Shiravat)
Anyway, back to John Wall. In case you forgot, dude was an absolute monster in the Rookie Challenge in 2011, taking MVP honors in route to 22 assists, 12 points and some absolutely unbelievable alley oops to Blake Griffin. Look back and drool:
John Wall Rookie Challenge MVP complete highlights *all 22 assists* (via watchjohnwall)
Rising Stars in 2012 was pretty cool too, but it was a step down. I don't want to talk about the skills challenge. I don't want to talk about how he had 17 points, 8 assists, and lost the MVP race to Kyrie Irving. I don't want to talk about that dick move by Greg Monroe to steal John's pass to himself for a 360 windmill throw down.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the All-Star game means anything in the grand scheme of things, but these days the best players in the NBA choose their teams. We know that LeBron, Carmelo, Blake, Durantula and Aldridge will be watching. Wouldn't it be nice to see John Wall dominate and put DC on the free agent map?
There have been so many times in John Wall's young career that we have felt something coming, a big test here and there, only to be disappointed. That's not to say the dude isn't an awesome player, but just kind of like that Spurs game the other night. Great, dominant, on the verge of pulling away from the pack and getting that .500 monkey off his back, then seeing him short-arm shots off the front of the rim in double overtime, or miss all of those simple layups to win a handful of games.
I want my Wizards ... I want my superstar, to seize the moment.
Here's a poll for you.