Days before he represents himself, his family, and the Washington Wizards organization in his first-ever start in the NBA All-Star Game, John Wall was one point away from his first triple-double of the season. That feat has eluded Wall this season, despite getting so close on more than one occasion.
"That's why I tried to shoot that floater," Wall said, with a laugh, in the locker room following his team's 96-80 victory over the Orlando Magic Monday night.
He didn't end up getting that final point to push him into double-digit scoring, and that's okay with Wall, so long as his team continues to get wins. And for his center, Marcin Gortat, the Polish big man hopes Wall never gets that triple-double, because he knows the chase for it will continue to drive his point guard to fight harder to achieve one of the few things he has yet to conquer this season.
"I want him to continue to work like that for that triple-double and I'm just afraid that he's gonna get that triple-double and he's gonna kind of slow down," Gortat said. "So I want him to continue to work on those triple-doubles, especially with assists. [Wall's] gotta continue to throw it to the big man and he will be fine."
Wall has showed time and time again that his ability to create assists is extraordinary. Wall finds his teammates and, against the Magic, once again gave them tons of open looks. He's recorded double-digit assists in eight of the past 12 games and, don't forget, leads the league with 10.2 assists per game.
But with the game all but over and Elfrid Payton dribbling the ball up the floor, John Wall did something that was as amazing as anything he'd done all night. Yet it still wasn't surprising in the least.
First, he stripped Payton beautifully. Second, he dove for a ball that should have been gobbled up immediately by Nicolas Vucevic, as it was right at his feet. But Wall's will knows no limits; it only knows how to give his team the best chances to win. Third, he called a timeout before Vucevic could tie him up. And fourth, he was given a deserved standing ovation for his hustle.
John Wall: when you can picture John Feinstein literally eating a heart out on a paper plate with plasticware. https://t.co/vJteTQeooB
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) February 10, 2015
So I wanted to ask him just how good it feels, despite the negative things people said about him early in his career, to continually put his body on the line for this team and getting rewarded in so many different ways -- whether it be a Player of the Week award, beating teams and players he's never beaten before in his career, an All Star Game start, or a standing ovation from the entire arena for diving after a loose ball.
Here's what he told me:
"I'm the same person. Those things that people said about me, I never bashed them. They make their own decisions, they make their own opinions. They're grown people. I just use it as motivation. I keep it as notes and know how hard I work every day when people are not in the gym watching me work and I'm just happy and excited to see that it's paying off on the court and I'm getting success now."
I have to admit, I was pretty stunned when, as I took my eyes away from the court once he called timeout, I noticed that the noise in the Verizon Center continued to grow louder and every single fan was getting out of their seat to applaud his work.
The things he does on the court never cease to amaze me. And I will never cease to be so incredibly happy to call John Wall the Washington Wizards' leader and #WallStar.