ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has a mes­sage for the John Wall haters.

ESPN’s Smith goes off on those who over­look the Wizards’ star guard

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY DAN STEIN­BERG dan.stein­berg@wash­post.com Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/ dc­sports­bog

Not long af­ter John Wall’s All-Star Game se­lec­tion was re­ported Thurs­day morn­ing, the point guard ap­peared on Stephen A. Smith’s ra­dio show. And be­fore Smith could ask Wall about his team­mates (they’re great) or his coach (he’s great, too) or his goals (Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals or bust), the host of­fered an apol­ogy.

“First of all, I don’t do this very of­ten, John Wall, I don’t do this very of­ten,” Smith said. “But I want to sit up here and apol­o­gize to you. Be­cause dammit, you have not got­ten enough recog­ni­tion. I had to go off about this ear­lier this week.”

Now, as a per­pet­u­ally ag­grieved John Wall ad­mirer who be­lieves the Wash­ing­ton point guard has not got­ten enough recog­ni­tion through­out his ca­reer, I found this in­ter­est­ing. And so I went back and lis­tened to Smith’s ear­lier com­ments. And good­ness, he re­ally did go off about this. Whether or not you are a fan of Stephen A. Smith, this must count as one of the most full-throated trib­utes to Wall by a na­tional me­dia per­son­al­ity.

Smith started by rat­tling off all the NBA point guards peo­ple talk about, from Steph Curry and Rus­sell West­brook to James Har­den and Kyle Lowry to Kyrie Irv­ing and Kemba Walker to Jeff Teague and Reggie Jack­son to Go­ran Gragic and Tony Parker and Mike Con­ley Jr. and Em­manuel Mu­diay and Jrue Hol­i­day and Ricky Ru­bio and on and on.

“We’ve heard about all of these dudes,” Smith said. “When is some­body go­ing to stand up and give John Wall of the Wash­ing­ton Wizards his love? Is any­body go­ing to stand up and give it to him? Some­body’s got to give this dude love in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. I just can’t take it any­more. I can’t take it!”

Smith then ticked off Wall’s stats — he’s one of only three play­ers av­er­ag­ing a dou­ble-dou­ble in points and as­sists — and his non-sexy team­mates and his con­sid­er­able ac­com­plish­ments.

“My God, John Wall, can he get some love, pretty please with sugar on top?” Smith said. “I mean, when are we gonna sit up there and pay at­ten­tion to this brother? You think I wouldn’t want John Wall in New York City? Wouldn’t you? How many teams, if John Wall were available, how many teams in the NBA would be clam­or­ing for him? Ladies and gen­tle­men, I’m telling you right now, it’s at least 24. At least 24. Twenty-four teams, at least. Kyrie Irv­ing, Steph Curry, CP3, Rus­sell West­brook, James Har­den. Any­body else? Go ahead and get slapped, fig­u­ra­tively, by yours truly, Stephen A Smith, for ut­ter­ing such non­sense to dis­pute what the hell I just said.”

“John Wall is get­ting NO LOVE,” he con­cluded.

And look, Wall just be­came the first Wizards-Bul­lets player since Elvin Hayes to make four straight All-Star Games. He’s al­ready first in as­sists and steals in fran­chise his­tory. He’ll al­most cer­tainly go down as the best fran­chise player of the past 35 years, and he might al­ready have clinched that sta­tus. Go ahead and get slapped, fig­u­ra­tively, by yours truly for ut­ter­ing such non­sense to dis­pute what the hell I just said.

“Ladies and gen­tle­men, this brother’s spe­cial. John Wall is spe­cial,” Smith said. “John Wall is the real deal, and I am sick and tired of pon­tif­i­ca­tors and prog­nos­ti­ca­tors, com­men­ta­tors, pun­dits, jour­nal­ists, who­ever walk­ing around like this dude is just some av­er­age de­cent player. John Wall signed for $80 plus mil­lion; balled. Watched as these Wash­ing­ton Wizards strug­gled through no fault of his own; still balled. Com­mit­ted to the fran­chise any­way, then watched as Ernie Grun­feld went out and gave Bradley Beal $40 mil­lion more than him. Came out on the court, still balls.

“He starts, he fin­ishes, he does it on of­fense, he does it on de­fense, he does it in the first quar­ter, he does it in the fourth quar­ter,” Smith said, with in­creas­ing fury. “When are we go­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate this young man? . . . I’m tired of this. You bunch of sorry folks out there talk­ing about how you know bas­ket­ball, and his name never comes up, EVER. And he’s top five to top seven in the league. What’s the mat­ter with y’all? What the hell is the mat­ter with y’all? You think I’d want Der­rick Rose ahead of John Wall? Well here’s my an­swer: Get your­self drug-tested. I’d love for him to be in a New York Knicks uni­form. You think you want DeAn­gelo Rus­sell ahead of him? You bet­ter wake up and smell some Old Spice. John Wall is a bad boy. Re­spect this man. Re­spect him.”

Go ahead and get slapped, fig­u­ra­tively, by yours truly for ut­ter­ing such non­sense to dis­pute what the hell he just said.

JOHN MCDONNELL/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

John Wall, driv­ing through the Mem­phis de­fense for a late bas­ket Jan. 18 at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter, is av­er­ag­ing a dou­ble-dou­ble.

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