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Posted at 12:47 AM ET, 02/19/2011

John Wall wins MVP, sets assist record in Rookie Challenge victory

By Michael Lee

When John Wall arrived at Staples Center, he and former Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins were curious about the record for assists in the Rookie Challenge. They found out that New Orleans Hornets all-star Chris Paul own the mark with 17 and Cousins immediately pledged that he was going to break it.

"Which I knew he wasn't," Wall said about his good friend and college roommate Cousins, who is known more for finishing and dishing.

And, although Wall opened the scoring for the rookies with a pull-up jumper, the Wizards' No. 1 overall pick made it clear that his objective was to share, set up and celebrate. He tossed lobs to Cousins and Blake Griffin, hit Wesley Johnson in stride for jumpers and layups, whirled a behind-the-back pass to Gary Neal for a three-pointer. By the end of the night, Wall finished with a record 22 assists, 12 points and did the Dougie three times before finally emerging as the most valuable player in his team's 148-140 win over the Sophomores.

"My intentions wasn't to come in and get the MVP," Wall said. "Just tried to have fun. I wanted to break the assists record, to show guys that I'm not the type of person that wants to shoot the ball every time. In this type of game, I was looking for my teammates and they did a good job of getting open and finishing for me."

It was the perfect game for Wall to flourish and be flashy -- strictly for entertainment purposes, fast-paced, no defense and with a bevy of offensive options surrounding him.

Wall exploited the weapons at his disposal and the rookie coaching staff kept sending him reminders throughout the game about how many assists he needed to get the record.

He said before the game that he wanted to throw a lob pass to Griffin, the 2009 No. 1 overall pick, to see if he could go get it. Wall hit Griffin with two alley-oop passes in the first half, but dazzled the thousands of children in magenta T-Mobile jerseys with a highlight that should get repeated several times this weekend: Wall received an outlet pass just beyond half court, took a step, then bounced the ball off the court. Griffin jumped for it and dunked the ball backward with both hands.

"He's so explosive with it," Wall said of Griffin. "It's like he's going to break the window every time he dunks it. Most people just get out the way. If I get up the court, and you got him out the wing, you just throw it anywhere and he finishes it."


The view is nice up here. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Rookie Coach Amaré Stoudemire got down on his knees and bowed several times at the duo, and Wall stopped at half court to do the Dougie as San Antonio's DeJuan Blair dunked on the other end.

"Wasn't anybody playing defense," he said. "That's good. You don't have to worry about Coach Flip [Saunders] or nobody yelling at me."

When play stopped, Wall ran over to Griffin and the two shook hands and hugged. "Crazy, crazy," Griffin said about the play.

Griffin had the most jaw-dropping plays, but Cousins was the primary benefactor of Wall's unselfishness, as he scored a game-high 33 points -- the fourth-best scoring total in the Rookie Challenge -- and grabbed 13 rebounds. Wall received three of the five MVP votes that were given to four media members and fans. Cousins got the other vote and Wall and Cousins split the other.

"He's always been an incredible passer, but he just makes everybody on the floor better," Cousins said of Wall. "That's something he's always had. We were trying to work together. He wanted to break the assist record, and I wanted to be MVP."

Cousins repaid the favor with 12.5 seconds remaining, when he got his only assist of the game, tossing the ball off the backboard as Wall dunked with two hands, hanging and swinging on the rim for several seconds. "Felt good. I wanted to do the spider, but I was too scared," Wall said.

As TNT's Craig Sager presented the trophy to Wall, he took a shot at Cousins, who got into a scuffle with Sacramento Kings swingman Donté Greene last week for not passing him the ball on a final possession. He praised Wall for looking for Cousins, saying, "It's been well-documented, he's not always happy when his teammates don't give him the ball."

Wall grimaced as he held up the trophy and didn't pay much mind to the question. Afterward, Wall was standing in the bowels of Staples Center and couldn't contain his overall excitement about being surrounded by so much talent and so many old and new friends.

"It's great, because you go to cities with them and you talk to them a day, maybe before you play with them, but you really don't have time to spend with guys to really know what their personality is off the court," he said. "All these guys are great guys, happy to reach their goals in the NBA. Summertime, I hope we can hang out from time to time."

He was loose and carefree. He grinned. He stomped. He flexed. He lifted three fingers after every made three-pointer. He hopped up-and-down after dunks. It was his summer-league swagger multiplied times 110. Wall was the showman that he rarely gets to be when the Wizards are getting pounded on a regular basis.

Wall also pleased that he could get a win on a non-Verizon Center court. "First win at Staples," he said with a smile. "I'm going to put that down in my book. We was close against the Lakers, hopefully, when we play the Clippers we can come in and get a second."

As for the trophy that rested in front of him, Wall said, "This'll go to my mom's house."

By Michael Lee  | February 19, 2011; 12:47 AM ET
Categories:  John Wall  
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Next: JaVale McGee wants to "represent for the big guys"

Comments

Well done young man...
Maybe one day we'll get to see Wall with a team capable of running effectively and a coach that's not dead set on playing half court basketball.

Posted by: bozomoeman | February 19, 2011 1:16 AM | Report abuse

THAT'S the reason i'm a BULLETS fan!

Posted by: sa11231 | February 19, 2011 4:47 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, yeah, yeah. When the NBA is completely offense and no defense wake me will you? 'Till then leave me alone. Put the hardware on the shelf and let's get to winning some games, eh?

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 19, 2011 5:56 AM | Report abuse

Defense? Dee-fence? The Wiz don't play no defense.

Posted by: howjensen | February 19, 2011 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Good for Wall on keeping his mouth shut about Cousins. That kid keeps on impressing me.

And for dessert, will we have McGee winning the dunk contest tonight?

Posted by: Blurred | February 19, 2011 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Good for John Wall and a desire to do something other than flash his grill at the All-Star game. He set a tone of unselfishness and the hope is he can end the curse de le boulez for Ted.

Posted by: KDSmallJr | February 19, 2011 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Love to watch the vid, but it says it's private... WTF?

Posted by: keepandbear | February 19, 2011 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: closg | February 19, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Why even bother keeping track of stats in these games? I watched the game last night and NOBODY even had their hands up playing defense until the last two minutes of the game. Not to be a negative nancy, but this MVP award is pretty meaningless imo.

Posted by: Tim584 | February 19, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Eventually, John Wall will catch up with the more seasoned NBA players and be the exceptional phenom that is expected of him. I saw enough in that "play ground" rookie game, He seemed to have more fun that he has had his entire time playing with DC's finest. I can't see him reaching his full potential under the current coaching staff but, I'm hoping that I'm wrong! Early frustration can be a good thing . . . ?

Posted by: zack9633 | February 19, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

So we know what JW can do when surrounded w/ some TALENT. The Wiz just need to acquire Griffin and/or Cousins and they're set.

Posted by: randysbailin | February 19, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Eventually, John Wall will catch up with the more seasoned NBA players and be the exceptional phenom that is expected of him

I'm starting to think improving his handle is even more important than his J.

Posted by: divi3 | February 19, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

KDJr, I think it will be Ted who has to end the curse by drafting smart, getting a coach who can use his players strengths instead of employing a system that won somewhere else with someone else, and getting rid of the training staff that is a consistent failure.

Posted by: DoubleEagle1 | February 19, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

If Wall had a few more players who could hit some open shots, he would probably already have had a 22 assist game with the Wizards. Cant wait to see the Wiz build a strong team around him - the future looks good.

Posted by: US-conscience | February 19, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to Wall. As a writer previously asserted the actual MVP award certainly doesn’t have much merit due to the lack of defense played; however, there are two obvious POSITIVES involved that shouldn’t be overlooked: (1) confidence builder for Wall (2) developing good rapport with his peers so that eventually he can “recruit” them to DC when FA for his class opens up. In this day and age of AAU style strategy in free agency (all the big dogs running together), the value of an elite point guard is critical. That’s why everyone is talking about CP3 or DW as key free agents to team up with the others in NY. Hopefully Wall understands his role in fostering relationships with other budding stars in the NBA especially from clubs that don’t traditionally retain their own stars (hint, hint: LA Clippers).

Side note: I want to introduce you to MooLaLa, a model that’s similar to Groupon in that you can save money on great deals—but it also takes it a step further to help you EARN money! This is a great opportunity to leverage social media platforms (or your email list) to make money. It doesn’t cost you a thing to sign up. Click here to learn more: http://share.moolala.com/r/Q93FJL6

Posted by: humen8r | February 19, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully the Wizards will continue to dominate all star weekend tonight. Go Mcgee+Wall.

Posted by: dcu99 | February 19, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Good to see JWow having a good time. He's a fantastic talent and if he stays healthy and gets better players around him he may turn out to be one of the best of all time.

Posted by: shovetheplanet | February 19, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

MVP of a game of baloney.

This article demonstrates what is WRONG with basketball. Me me me me look at me! Check my stats!

Wall will NEVER win a thing in Washington. There is no trophy for biggest shoe contract.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | February 19, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

MVP of a game of baloney.

This article demonstrates what is WRONG with basketball. Me me me me look at me! Check my stats!

Wall will NEVER win a thing in Washington. There is no trophy for biggest shoe contract.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | February 19, 2011 2:04 PM |

Are you serious?!? So Wall had a me me me mentality last night? If that's so, how did he manage to dish out 22 assist? If he was so me me me, im pretty sure he would have turned those assist into points for himself, don't you think???

Posted by: babycas2000 | February 19, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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