On December 3rd, the Washington Wizards traded star point guard John Wall to the Houston Rockets for another star point guard in Russell Westbrook along with a couple of draft picks. While both teams got really good players, there's still a winner yet to be determined based on the large salaries each player carries to their teams. However one thing for sure: that Wall's impact in the nation's capital on and off the court won't be forgotten.
In 2010, the Washington Wizards used the number one overall pick in the NBA draft to recruit John Wall out of Kentucky. Wall was tasked with reviving a team that had spent the last two seasons in the basement of the NBA. It didn't take long for him to live up to the hype, and soon the Wizards slowly began building around him with players such as all star Bradley Beal who complimented Wall perfectly in the backcourt during their tenure. By Wall's fourth season (2013-14), he blossomed into an all-star putting up averages of around 20 points, 10 assists, and two steals. In addition, he was able to turn the team from a laughingstock to a yearly playoff team in four of those next five seasons,. Washington went to the second round in three of those four seasons, but none of those seasons were more memorable than 2017. Wall played arguably the best basketball of his career and led them to their first division title in almost four decades. After defeating the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, the Wizards faced the Boston Celtics in the second round. Although the Wizards lost the series in seven games, Wall had his signature moment, hitting a game winning shot to force a game 7. Over the following two seasons, injuries have limited Wall's play. That only doubled down on the pressure Wall was facing after receiving a supertax contract extension dating back to the 2017 offseason. Eventually, he was traded to Houston, ending one of the best stretches of Wizards basketball.
When Wall was off the court, he still found ways to make assists - but rather than to his teammates, those assists were to the community of Washington D.C. Wall's most meaningful actions was a special bond he developed with a six year local girl who was ill with cancer. In the morning of December 8, 2014, she passed away. Wall, who learned of the heartbreaking news, dedicated his 26 point, 17 assist performance in a double overtime victory to her. After the game, he was overcome with emotion while describing how much she meant to him. His contributions are also found through the charitable work he's done with Beal, whether it's donating to local charities, helping feed hospital workers, or providing meals during the holidays. Wall's efforts toward reaching to the community were recognized in 2016 when he won the NBA Cares Community Award. Even despite missing all of last season, Wall started a website designated to help provide rent relief for Ward 8 residents who were affected by COVID-19. So far, over $550,000 has been raised for the website. About a month after launching the website, Wall and his teammates led a "Together We Stand" march across the National Mall all the way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. The march specifically took place on June 19th as a commemoration of the day Juneteenth.
December 3rd, might mark the end of an era, but John Wall's impact on Washington D.C. will always be remembered. On the court, he turned the Wizards, into a successful playoff team. Off the court, he gave back to the community he loved in so many ways. These kinds of players don't come around often. John Wall is one of them.
On Tuesday, NBA will begin its 2020-21 season. Last year was an eventful year for the NBA from the loss of Kobe Bryant, to a postponement that lasted five months, all the way to its restart at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex down in Florida. But just like a decade ago, the Los Angeles Lakers will be entering the season as the defending NBA champions. However, there are many teams entering the season with championship aspirations who will certainly challenge the Lakers. Here are my predictions for this season's awards and its champion awaiting.
MVP: Anthony Davis
Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis
Rookie of the Year: LaMelo Ball
Sixth Man of the Year: Caris LeVert
Most Improved Player: Gary Trent Jr.
Coach of the Year: Monty Williams
Eastern Conference: Western Conference:
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Lakers 4
#8 Pacers 0 #8 Pelicans 1
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Lakers 4
#4 Heat 2 #5 Trail Blazers 2
#4 Heat 4 #4 Jazz 2
#5 Celtics 2 #5 Trail Blazers 4
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Lakers 4 4 Lakers #1
#2 Nets 2. #1 Bucks 2 2 Clippers #2
#3 Raptors 4 #3 Nuggets 4
#6 76ers 2 #6 Suns 2
#2 Nets 4 #2 Clippers 4
#3 Raptors 3 #7 Nuggets 3
#2 Nets 4 #2 Clippers 4
#7 Wizards 1 #7 Mavericks 2
This year, the NBA will be starting its 2020-21 season during Christmas week, on December 22 specifically. The late start is a result of the last year's unusual stretch known as the NBA bubble, dating back from July to October with the L.A. Lakers winning the championship. While the NBA on Christmas has always been one of the most popular events of the season, it might not be the best idea to start basketball during that week.
In the past, the NBA on Christmas is one of the season's most popular events. Usually, the matchups consist of the top teams and players with high expectations coming into the season. These games are highly anticipated with both teams battling for a statement win. Most of the time, they live up to the hype with highlight plays and fantastic endings. Additionally, this wouldn't be the first time the NBA began on Christmas, as they began following the conclusion of the 2011 lockout.
However, this doesn't change the fact that the NBA shouldn't start during this time of year. For one, the resting period for the teams who weren't in the bubble will be significantly longer than teams who did. To be specific, teams not in the bubble will have over 200 days of rest by the time the season begins, whereas the Finals participants - the Lakers and Miami Heat - will have under 70 days of rest. Even teams that bowed out of the playoffs early will have less than 100 days of rest compared to teams who weren't invited to the bubble. Players such as LeBron James used social media as a source to show their unhappiness when the schedule announcement was made. In particular, he pointed out this offseason, consisting of 71 days, will be the shortest in any sport.
Another reason why the season shouldn't start around Christmas is that it will be occurring shortly after the offseason. NBA trades along with the draft occurred just about a week ago, and free agency is still going on even though most teams have probably moved past it at this point. This will make it difficult for teams to prepare for the season following their recent offseason moves. As for the players, they probably have to adjust to their new teams, along with their life off the court. Currently, this schedule will consist of a 72 game season, with the finals concluding in August. Its announcement coming three weeks before the season is a far cry from other years, where teams had a lot more notice.
One way to solve the flaws within this year's schedule would be to have all offseason transactions occur earlier than their actual time. That would usually be about two to three weeks after the Finals, which should've been the case for this year, rather than over a month following the season's conclusion. This could've allowed players who were drafted, or have signed with a new team, to get comfortable in their new situation. Another possible way of fixing the schedule would be to start the season one or two weeks later. That method can satisfy the players who stayed in the bubble until late September or October, giving them more time to rest. Both solutions could have been options for the NBA to smoothly move forward into next season.
The NBA bubble was a period that we won't forget. It was a cool experience to watch, but the NBA should have done its best to get back on schedule where all players can have an adequate amount of rest before the season starts. Starting the season only two months after the Finals isn't the way to go.