John Wall is a bonafide superstar…in Kentucky. Â He doesn’t always receive that kind of treatment, and I’m not just talking about Colin Cowherd.
For the last two years, the NBA All-Star point guard has worn generic Nike shoes. Â After signing a $25 million deal with Reebok before entering the NBA Draft, Wall’s shoe game sputtered. Â He made a move to Reebok’s parent company Adidas, but turned down a 2015 offer for $7.5 million a year. Â Wall wanted “James Harden money.” Â He didn’t get “James Harden money” because his name still doesn’t carry the same weight, writesÂ The Ringer’s Haley O’Shaughnessy.
During the 2014â€“15 season, prior to Hardenâ€™s historic deal, the Rockets were featured on national television 25 times; the Wizards were shown 15 times. Last season, Washington managed just five scheduled appearances. This year that ballooned back up to 14, far behind Houstonâ€™s 27. While that kind of exposure is notable, itâ€™s wrong to chalk up the soft Wall market simply to a lack of TV time; the man is nicknamed â€œWall-Starâ€ and is regularly called the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.
Wall is not discouraged. Â He believes the tide is about to turn back in his favor.
Still, it felt like last summerâ€™s â€œHarden moneyâ€ snub was hurting Wall all over again. Wall was still without a shoe deal, and frustration was bubbling over. In August,Â The Ringerâ€™s Kevin Oâ€™ConnorÂ wroteÂ that he was â€œthe face of the Wizards franchise, but heâ€™s wearing a cloak of invisibility,â€ after Wall toldÂ The VerticalÂ that February, â€œI ainâ€™t got no billboards in D.C.Â â€¦ I want to leave a legacy and you canâ€™t leave a legacy hiding behind the doors.â€
Itâ€™s been nearly eight months since Bealâ€™s contract, and Wallâ€™s having the best season of his career. Windhorst, who spent time with the guard in February, says Wall â€œis convinced heâ€™s going to get the last laugh on all of it. The salary, the shoe deal, the doubters.â€ And he may be right: Just a week ago, Wall finally got his billboard, Washington-style. He and Beal wereÂ painted (above)Â on the side of the cityâ€™s iconic Benâ€™s Chili Bowl, a famous mural wall that last featured another D.C. legend, Barack Obama.
Wall’s proving ground is the NBA playoffs. Â He’s never appeared in the conference finals, but right now, the Wizards are rolling while he does stuff like this…
John Wall spin move dot whoop pic.twitter.com/ysAUyUNpEW
â€” CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 20, 2017
â€” NBA (@NBA) April 20, 2017
That stare down though ðŸ˜³ pic.twitter.com/JWOfjuSLY3
â€” SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 20, 2017
For the second consecutive gameÂ Wall scored a career-playoff high 32 points in a win. Â He added 9 assists and 5 rebounds to give the Wizards a 109-101 win and a 2-0 series lead over the Hawks.