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John Wall explains his ESPY decision

Last week, the Nats' radio broadcasters -- Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler -- urged listeners to vote for Stephen Strasburg in ESPN's made-up "breakthrough athlete" ESPY category, even though he was matched up against another D.C. figure in John Wall. Their argument was that Wall hasn't even begun his pro career yet, and that he'll have time for awards later.

Wednesday, Wall himself endorsed that argument. He's previously asked his Twitter followers to vote for him -- he was also nominated for the best male college athlete category -- and he planned to fly out to L.A. from Las Vegas during the Wizards' Summer League break and return in time for Thursday's game. But he and his advisers decided that, in essence, he'll have time for awards later, so he canceled his appearance.

"Basically I don't want to miss practice or anything like that, feel like I'm bigger than anybody," Wall said Wednesday afternoon. "The ESPYs were a great chance, I would love to be there, but there's more time down the future to get there. Right now I'm a rookie, so I need to be with my teammates, trying to get better every chance that I can. If I would have left, then they maybe would have looked where I was or I asked where I was. It wouldn't have been the right place and the right situation. So I told the ESPN people thanks for the nominations, and thank God, but I had this and this is more important. This is my job. That comes secondary to what I'm trying to do."

"It's too much to put onto the shoulders of a 19-year old kid," added Dwon Clifton, one of Wall's co-agents. "Obviously John wanted to go, but that stuff will be there. If he takes care of business here, he'll have another opportunity."

In the meantime, Wall participated in a scrimmage against the Portland Trail Blazers' Summer League roster. If you think Summer League is laid back, you've never seen a Summer League scrimmage. Imagine a practice game the day before a split-squad Spring Training scrimmage -- it's the exhibition to the exhibition, the rough draft of the rough draft. JaVale McGee was literally doing push-ups on the sidelines.

But Wall showed the same thing he's showed in the actual Summer League games -- remarkable speed and electricity, an ability to finish despite contact, and a knack for coughing up the ball. The teams played six 10-minute sessions with a running clock. In the 20 minutes Wall was on the court, the Wizards outscored Portland, 36-23. In the 40 minutes Wall was on the bench, Portland outscored the Wizards, 35-26.

Granting that this was a practice practice game, an exhibition exhibition, the Wizards averaged 1.8 points per minute with Wall on the floor, and 0.7 points per minute with Wall on the bench.

"Hey, they say he's the Game Changer, so that's what he is," joked Summer League Coach Sam Cassell, referring to the Wizards' marketing slogan. "John has a great understanding of the point guard position. I'm just trying to teach him how to use his speed, change speeds and direction, but he'll be fine. When he's on the court, we're just a totally different ballclub."

The Wizards managed just five points in the second session, with a lineup of players who won't likely be on their regular-season roster. Wall closed the first session with yet another nice lob to JaVale McGee, with whom he seems to be developing a chemistry. He opened the third session with an immediate assist to Sun Yue for a three-pointer. He makes this particular group work.

"The key is to find everybody," he said. "I've got to find my shooters, and they [have to be] ready every time I run down the court."

Wall said he would watch the ESPYs on TV Wednesday night. He said he hoped he'd win, but he didn't want to be tired for Thursday's meeting with Dallas. And his coaches approved of this approach.

"The ESPYs don't pay him," Cassell said. "The Washington Wizards pay him. It's that simple. Get the ESPYs to pay him or ESPN to pay him, then he can go out there."

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 14, 2010; 4:53 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Posted by: Theone9 | July 14, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

John "The Next Great Thing" Wall is one of a kind of player mentally and physically. Wizards fans we should be praising this kid every opportunity we can!!!!!!

Posted by: lilsteve02828 | July 14, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I think I might like this young man Wall.

Posted by: rooster75 | July 14, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

What's his number, we need a nickname. I can't believe it, a young professional athlete who has his feet on the ground. Exellent!!!!!

Posted by: hessone | July 14, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

John "Thank goodness its not DeShawn Stevenson" Wall. Cant wait to see him and Arenas play together.

I posted that last comment just for humor, lets hear it Arenas haters! Real Wizard fans know whats about to happen in the 10-11 season.

Posted by: crisco00786 | July 14, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

It's going to be entertaining that is for sure.

Not to be negative, but I don't want us to make a run at low playoffs this season. I want us to develop have flashes and get a nice complementary draft pick to play with wall long term next season.

Think OV and Backstrom.
Yeah... that'd be nice for a change.

Posted by: gconrads | July 14, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse


= What would Gilbert do?

Go to the ESPYS of course.

Posted by: thinker11 | July 15, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

What would Lil Baby James do? Make ESPN pay him to go probly.

Posted by: ZeroHero0 | July 15, 2010 5:54 AM | Report abuse

What would Lil Baby James do? Make ESPN pay him to go probly.

Posted by: ZeroHero0 | July 15, 2010 5:54 AM | Report abuse

trying not to speak too fast here but it seems as though DC sports have really been lucky to get two top notch talents(Wall,Strasburg) with humility, maturity, and class. I've been very impressed so far.

Posted by: MaxnDC | July 15, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Class act adn really mature decision on Wall's part. Looking forward to seeing him play in DC for years to come.

Posted by: abryant15 | July 15, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Wall is the franchise. He will take some time to develop. Fewer turnovers will come with experience.

On another note, maybe the Wizards should consider Jon Scheyer as a backup if the Heat don't keep him.

LAS VEGAS -- Jon Scheyer, a 2010 consensus second team All-America, tallied 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in his summer league debut for the Miami Heat.

Posted by: joyster8 | July 15, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: carterm1 | July 15, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Way to go, Wall! My God, I love this kid!!

Posted by: wbbradb | July 15, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

the great wall of chinatown? does that work?

Posted by: tttyler | July 15, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

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