John Wall circled the Tuesday night matchup between the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards back on December 2. That’s the day the Wizards shipped the five-time All-Star who had spent his entire career in the nation’s capital to Houston.
His performance on the court against his former club showed how much the game meant to him. His postgame comments aimed directly at the organization finished it off with an exclamation point.
John Wall was more than a basketball player in Washington D.C.
John Wall is a beloved figure in Washington D.C. The city embraced him when the Wizards selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. Wall proved himself during his nine years in the nation’s capital, averaging 19 points per contest and earning five All-Star nominations.
But Wall took pride in being more than a basketball player. He immersed himself in the community. He held backpack drives, where he would hand out school supplies and sign autographs for hours.
In June 2020, John Wall was busy on multiple fronts in the community. His foundation raised more than $500,000 to help residents in D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods pay rent during the middle of the pandemic. Around that same time, he was influential in organizing a joint march on social justice issues with his teammates and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
Washington Wizards trade him to Houston Rockets
While John Wall was a star on the court and an activist off of it, he wasn’t perfect. He admitted as much and apologized for his untoward behavior, including the September 2020 incident where he was filmed flashing gang signs at a party.
His biggest issue of late was injuries, which dogged him the last two years, including the 2019-20 season when he missed the entire year after rupturing his Achilles tendon. While Wall understandably grew frustrated being unable to play and be there for his teammates and city, he never envisioned returning to action in a different uniform.
On December 2, that’s exactly what happened when the Wizards announced that John Wall had been traded to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook and a 2023 lottery-protected first-round draft pick. Just like that, his time in Washington was over.
John Wall takes shot at organization when revealing trade details
The Houston Rockets hosting the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night was one of the most anticipated games of the NBA season with John Wall and Russell Westbrook facing their former teams. And it lived up to the hype.
Wall showed an extra burst in his step, including a smooth behind-the-back move and layup in the second quarter. Late in the fourth, Wall and Westbrook got into a heated exchange, resulting in each player receiving a technical foul. When it was over, Wall’s Rockets convincingly won, 107-88. He finished the game with 24 points.
In the postgame interview, John Wall opened up about his former club and what happened with the trade and made it abundantly clear it was not of his own doing.
“I just feel like the organization thought I was done,” Wall candidly admitted. “No matter how much hard work I put in over the summer, they came and watched me — I thought they thought I was done. That’s why I came out here and did what I did.”
As painful as it was to admit that the only organization he had ever played for turned its back on him, John Wall also made sure to let the community know how much it still means to him.
“The love that I have for that community in DC and the fans that have loved me for 10 years. I have nothing but love for those guys.”
And the community still loves him.