Last night, the Wizards were beat bad. This isn’t was really qualifies as “news,” but a couple of things made last night’s game notable. One was that the loss came at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers, not exactly what one would call a powerhouse. They remain at one road win for the entire season. And it’s almost March.
The other thing that made this game special is John Wall. Not necessarily on the court, during the game, but his comments in the locker room after. He did something rookies rarely do: he called out his veteran teammates on their lack of heart.
I will admit it does seem hypocritical that after I was critical of P.K. Subban for not knowing his place, I am now praising John Wall for an essentially similar thing. Here is the difference; the instances I was referencing with Subban and Dallas Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant were incases in which they were being cocky, undeservedly flashy, and entitled. Wall was being honest.
The Wizards have lost their heart. It has been gone since the Gilbert Arenas shenanigans, perhaps even before that. None of the veterans are stepping up, and you can hear the frustration in Wall’s voice. They have all accepted defeat, and he has never been on a team that loses like this one.
The video on CSNWashington.com shows a player annoyed at his teammates. He said that in order to win, the team needs to be able to put five guys out on the floor who are going to battle hard the entire game, and he seemed to question whether or not the team actually had those five guys.
Why this is so important is that for a long time now, the Wizards have just been getting along. They’ve been going through the motions, accepted their position in the league, and just let things continue to crumble. There has been no accountability (which in my opinion is a coaching problem), and without accountability, you can’t expect players to give their all.
If the coach won’t do it (which Flip Saunders won’t, it seems) it is up to the players. The vets aren’t stepping up, so John Wall is. Criticism and motivation means so much more coming from your peers than it does coming from authority, and I hope Wall’s post-game comments don’t go unnoticed.