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.