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