WASHINGTON - Waking up, going to school, and riding the bus is a regular routine for most kids in the D.C. area. But, what if today you woke up, went to school, stood outside the Verizon Center and met John Wall? Even sweeter, what if you got to ride the bus with him along Abe Pollin Way, seating so close that you can touch him and ask him anything you want?
For example, Why did we lose to Atlanta in the playoffs? What is it going to take for the Washington Wizards to receive national attention and Sports Illustrated's respect? How fast will the Wizards be this year? And how slow is the defense?
Unfortunately, for the over-inflated basketball fan like myself these aren't questions asked by kids. I'm not sure if these kids remember we were in the playoffs last year or how many wins the Wizards posted last season. These kids just wanted to talk to John Wall, scream at him when he allowed it, and play a game of one-on-one if they could.
On Monday, John Wall was the first NBA inducted into the Washington D.C. Ride of Fame, a "mobile monument dedicated to public figures who highlight and promote their respective cities" surrounded by the people he does it for: The kids.
Of course, he wasn't alone. Photographers and fans alike piled into the double-decker bus beside him where all you could hear were small shouts of "John Wall, John Wall," and the flash and flutter of the digital single lens reflex cameras. Once the air of comfortability dissipated, Wall pulled the gold rope and the red curtain fell unveiling his special seat on the top deck.
John Wall carved his name in mobile monument history with the personal message of "Keep my seat warm JWall#2," a very telling and mischievous play on words, I should say.
As the bus slowly pulled out into D.C traffic, pedestrians walking on F Street outside of the Verizon Center started to notice Wall on the bus, which had to be a surreal event for passersby. But soon after the bus pulled out, his attention turned back to the kids on the bus, where he challenged them to a screaming competition for an autographed basketball.
The kid two seats back won, who also affectionately called Chinatown, "Chinesetown."
And just like that, the ride was over, the bus had been honored and well-received by Wall and everyone who participated yesterday.
But wait there's more, instead of rushing off back inside the warmth of the Verizon Center, John Wall stayed outside for as long as he possibly could, posing in front of the bus for pictures with excited fans. One mother put her head on his shoulder and the young boys screaming and laughing earlier could not stop smiling. The energy was contagious and evident that they did not want the moment to end--Wall and the kids--and so, he had to be pulled away by security in order to leave. And as his young fans watched him go, they smiled the big smile of the NBA dream.
This is my moment on the Ride of Fame John Wall bus, I encourage you as the Washington Wizards open the 2015-16 season this week to create your moment on his bus and keep his seat warm.