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John Wall turned around Washington Wizards’ season once teammates demanded he lead

Mar 12, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

Martell Webster; John Wall

If players were robots, the Washington Wizards’ contract extension for John Wall last summer would have made no sense.

The Wizards gave Wall a maximum contract a year before they had to. Why not wait to see whether Wall stayed healthy this season or progressed as hoped?

If all went well, re-signing him would remain on the table. If not, Washington would have avoided a costly mistake.

But players aren’t robots. They’re human beings with thoughts and emotions.

That’s why Washington extended Wall when it did — for moments like this, when the Wizards started the season 2-7.

Shams Charania or RealGM:

Essentially, teammates gave Wall the room, centered him in a classroom setting and asked: What should our roles be? You’re the heralded franchise star, the organization’s maximum salary designation. How about you tell us?

“From that day forward, I knew I was the guy, the leader, and I knew that they trusted me,” Wall told RealGM. “I let everybody know what I thought about our state. I think we were passing the ball, but when you’re not playing good for a stretch, frustration sets in. So guys find a way to blame it on somebody else or something else. Nene told me to stand up in front of the whole team and told me, ‘You’re our leader, you’re our franchise guy, so tell us what you think everybody’s roles are.’

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The Wizards made no secret making the playoffs this season was their primary goal, and with 19 games remaining and a an 8.5 game buffer, they’re going to do it.

Wall’s improved leadership has played a major role in that happening.

Earlier in his career, the Wizards filled their locker room with some real clowns. Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young were his veteran leaders.

But empowered by management to lead and undistracted by a looming free agency, Wall has set a new agenda in Washington.

I’m not totally convinced the Wizards handled Wall’s extension the best way possible, but there was a method to their madness. Wall’s locker room speech showed it.

  1. money2long - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    on dime mag website, there was an article a while ago that asked who will be better between rubio n wall. i was one of the few people saying wall will be better. and i said it with conviction and no hesitation. i was certain wall would ascend to this level. he will only get better. he will become a superstar. and i like his demeanor. i like him as a player. he will have a fine career. so will rubio. just not as good as wall’s

  2. calvinisthobbesian - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    If only his teamates had also demanded fewer 4 of 19 shooting nights.

  3. ravenswhat - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Wall is a legit top 5 pg or at least in the convo at this point. He’s flirting with 20/10 Chris Paul type numbers.

  4. zickhead - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    I think it’s when Gortat arrived that the season started to turn around.

    • 5pecialk - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      He arrived before the season started…

  5. pbtunpaidwriter - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    He’s dropping dimes like a clumsy toll booth collector!

  6. sportsfan18 - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    It’s great on teams if one’s best player is also their leader.

    But just being the best player does not make one the best leader on a team.

    A group of guys just can’t say you’re our best player so tell us what our roles are…

    Where we all work, us regular Joes, the leaders are NOT always the head honcho’s, our bosses etc…

    One is either a leader or they are not. Simply being in charge does not make a person a leader.

  7. mbuda732 - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Let’s be serious. Having Andre Miller to back up John Wall is what has turned the season around.

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