Feb 11, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
Professional athletes love to talk about all the people who don’t believe in them, even if everyone believes in them.
Some get creative. Throughout his NBA career, Michael Jordan referenced a high school coach cutting him. That was because nobody really doubted Jordan during his time at North Carolina and with the Chicago Bulls.
But most athletes don’t get as deep as Jordan. They just imagine the haters or embellish the voices of a small minority of Twitter followers.
However, when John Wall says people don’t properly recognize his accomplishments, I actually think he has a point.
I think they still still see me as a skinny kid from Kentucky that got drafted No. 1, that hasn’t done nothing or proven nothing in this league. I think just making this first All-Star Game still doesn’t get me a nod.
I think I respect the coaches and those guys that give me the the credit for seeing I worked on my game and I’m getting better.
But until I make it to the playoffs and win a series and keep improving, I haven’t done nothing in this league
Wall, despite having the most-honored rookie year in his draft class, got off on the wrong foot for a No. 1 pick. The two No. 1 picks preceding him (Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose) and one proceeding him (Kyrie Irving) won Rookie of the Year.
Why didn’t Wall win the award? Griffin was injured and missed what would have been his first season, delaying his rookie season a year. Had Griffin not got hurt, Tyreke Evans – not Wall – would have been without a Rookie of the Year trophy, and Wall would have immediately been recognized as a budding star.
I’m not sure Wall – in perception – has ever recovered from the absence of that award on his resume.
Wall, who’s still just 23, has gotten better each season of his career. Yet, he’s still criticized for stagnating – most notably with his jumper. But Wall has made 37.1 percent of his shots between 16 and 24 feet this season. That’s better than Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson and Jarrett Jack.
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Wall’s All-Star appearance should change the narrative a bit, but he knows what it will really take: winning.
Asked about his greatest accomplishment so far, Wall said getting above .500. That was a real and justified moment of pride for the Wizards, who hadn’t even momentarily possessed a winning record in years. But for the best accomplishment of a career, it’s just sad.
Wall is on the right track – improving as a player and leading his team to its best record in years. The Wizards should make the playoffs, and as long as they get a top-six seed, they’ll have a coin-flip chance of winning their first-round series.
That would drastically improve the perception of Wall, at least temporarily. Then soon enough, people will be asking why the max-contract player hasn’t won a championship, and the cycle will begin anew.
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