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John Wall's keeping track of doubters, says he nearly broke his kneecap

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In an extended interview with Bleacher Report's Howard Beck, John Wall said he's keeping track of his doubters and did indeed have a stress fracture last year. We discuss the latter revelation in depth.

Alexandre Loureiro

New Bleacher Report/Turner ace reporter Howard Beck has a long story on John Wall that's well worth your time. It's filled with fun nuggets of information, like how Wall is digitally remembering all of his doubters.

There are doubts. Wall knows this. He has seen the critiques and the positional rankings. He carries them on his phone, as photographic motivation.

"I got snappings of all type of rankings," Wall said. "I like it."

Or how Wall is really, really, really, really obsessed with making it to the playoffs.

"You will see it on all my shoes," Wall said last week. "Every game pair is going to have `playoffs' on it. That's my main determination."

But there's also this, which rekindles a bit of a sore spot last year:

It could have been worse. Wall later divulged that [his knee injury] injury had become a stress fracture. "I was on the verge of breaking my knee cap," he said last week. "Scary."

First and foremost: that's scary for Wall and his health. A broken knee cap is what sidelined Blake Griffin for his entire rookie season and was one of the injuries that spiraled Greg Oden's career out of control.

But this also is interesting because it's not exactly the first time Wall said his injury had become a "stress fracture" rather than a "stress injury." From a December press conference last year, which Amin transcribed:

Reporter: Is your injury -- I saw a report that said -- similar to Blake Griffin's?

Wall: He broke his kneecap. I think mine was just a stress fracture where I was in the beginning stages of breaking my kneecap. It was lucky I caught it before it broke, and I would already know what my timetable is: I would miss the whole season. And I had a little bit of cartilage problems. Underneath my kneecap it's kind of rough.

Throughout last year's process, the Wizards were adamant that the kneecap hadn't fractured, but rather, it was merely a "stress injury," caught before the fracture had taken place. This is what Randy Wittman said in a conference call with reporters right after the injury was announced, for example.

"We're very lucky we took the precautionary steps to make sure nothing was there. We had thought bursitis or something like that, and we were lucky we came and saw it before it was any type of fracture. Those are the precautions we're taking."

I asked the Wizards to explain the discrepancy in language. A spokesman for the team told me that Wall misspoke.

When I asked a Wizards spokesman to juxtapose the two comments, he was adamant that Wall never had a stress fracture, despite Wall's wording in this press conference. So, perhaps the explanation is simply that Wall used a different codeword than the actual diagnosis.

This, of course, was an injury with an eight-week timetable that kept Wall out for 14 weeks. Either the injury was more serious than expected, or it became more serious than expected.

Now, at this point, this discussion is merely be an academic one. Stress "fracture" or not, the bottom line is that Wall's injury was serious and was one step closer to being even more serious. Whether it was a small fracture that made the injury "serious" or no fracture at all, it doesn't really change much for Wall or the team at this point. Last year is last year.

But this certainly wouldn't be the first time an NBA team made an injury sound less serious than it actually was. The Lakers said Steve Nash had a "leg contusion" last November and was day-to-day; he ended up missing 25 games. The Knicks said Rasheed Wallace had a "sore foot" on December 15; he missed the rest of the season. "Stress injury" vs. "stress fracture" isn't even close to those levels, but it's of a similar ilk. "Stress injury" sounds a hell of a lot better and easier to overcome than a "stress fracture."

(The less cynical, but equally-viable point to make: human beings react to injuries in very different ways, so what works as a timetable for one person doesn't for another. One can only guess the standard timetable before we see it play out. See Rose, Derrick).

Points being:

  1. Whatever you want to call Wall's injury, it was bad and nearly much, much worse.
  2. Take team-generated injury timetables and definitions with a massive grain of salt.
Now, here's to a healthy and awesome John Wall this year. Actually, let's try this again.


(Please take a screenshot of that as motivation).

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