Washington Wizards’ Martell Webster Talks About His Future, Music, Health and More

Washington Wizards’ swingman Martell Webster entered the league as the sixth overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers a decade ago. Carrying high expectations out of high school, Webster was supposed to become a part of Portland’s young core.

Unfortunately, injuries never allowed the former standout to find a rhythm in Portland and the setbacks continued after he was dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Following his second back surgery, Webster was waived by the Wolves and his future in the NBA looked bleak. He eventually got a work out with the Wizards in 2012 and earned a one year deal for the veteran’s minimum with the club.

Roughly a few months after reaching the one year deal with the Wizards, hoping to get back into true form in the nation’s capital, Webster replaced newly acquired Trevor Ariza as the team’s starting small forward in 2013. His three point shooting became a key part of Washington’s offense and John Wall thrived next to the marksman.

He shot a career-high 42 percent from three and proved to be indispensable for the team’s offense, as he became a one of the best in the NBA from the corner.

After it looked like Webster would have a tough time ever finding his rhythm again, his shooting and locker room leadership earned him the full mid-level exception, making him one of the key factors to the Washington Wizards’ success.

Webster continued to play big minutes for the team after signing the multi-year deal, but he suffered yet another setback this past season.

He underwent his third back surgery to repair a herniated disc and missed the majority of last year as a result.

The likes of Paul Pierce, Otto Porter and Rasual Butler filled in for Webster as he worked his way back into the team’s rotation.

While Webster never truly returned to form this past season, he’s been working diligently this off-season and appears ready to make an impact once again.

“I’ve been training, man,” Webster told Wiz of Awes. “I’ve been keeping that at the forefront of everything, knowing that I can’t do my music unless I have something that funds it. So, it’s giving me even more passion to play basketball to the best of my ability and to treat it very seriously, which is why I have completely transformed my body this off-season and changed my training habits. It’s been really good and very beneficial.”

Webster, who entered the league out of Seattle Prep in 2005, has learned about what it takes to have a long, successful NBA career — both on and off the court.

As fans, it’s easy to think of the NBA as a collection of games that professional athletes take part in, but in reality, it’s much more than that.

The preparation that players have to go through prior to stepping onto the court is often undocumented, and quite frankly, tough to grasp unless you’ve gone through it yourself.

For someone like Webster, who’s gone through several back surgeries, the preparation might be even more important than playing the actual games.

By using technology such as fitness bands, focusing on the calories he consumes, tracking recovery time and meeting with a strength and conditioning coach at least four times a week, Webster has been able to completely transform his workout regiment this off-season and the results speak for themselves.

“I feel amazing. I transformed my body, I dropped 20 pounds and I’m probably going to drop 10 more, so that I’m about 206 — anywhere from 206 to 210 this next year, that’s what I want to play at. I feel amazing, a lot of pressure has been taken off my back and off of my joints and I feel great.”

“I do Artesian massage, visit a chiropractor and do pilates all throughout the week so that I’m constantly keeping that in the forefront of what’s most important, which is taking care of my body so that I’m able to perform at my job to the best of my abilities.”

Last year, after dealing with a string of injuries, Webster talked about potentially retiring after his contract with the Washington Wizards is over.

However, after discovering a new routine that has helped him feel great physically, and of course his music, Webster doesn’t plan on hanging up his sneakers anytime soon.

“When I was going through my injuries, it put me in a position of thinking about the long term, which was me raising my kids and being able to function everyday just as a normal human being. So, I was thinking deeply at that point and about that led me to make a very irrational decision at that point which was probably to consider retiring, but then I thought about it.”

“You just have to change your workout regiment and be conscious of the fact that you need to spend just as much time on a training table as you do on the court, just so you could find that balance of taking care of yourself, recovery and then also training on the court to advance at my craft.”

“So, after taking that into consideration and changing the way I did my regiment this off-season, I don’t see why not — why I wouldn’t play even more after this contract. That’s how I’m gearing myself and that’s how I’m training my body, taking care of my body so I’m able to do those things. Hell no I’m not retiring after this contract. Damn right I’m going to try to play a couple more years.”

Music is something that Martell Webster has been passionate about way before he joined the Washington Wizards and it’s helped spark him this summer as well.

Webster, along with a few of his peers, created a label called Eyrst that he hopes will help others think outside of the box.

He’s been known as one of the most engaging players in the locker room and wants others to become inspired by his music and label too.

Webster hopes that his music and label help people become conscious of the bigger things in life, which he noted as helping others, networking , engaging intellect and voicing the struggles that help people improve.

He’s hoping to release an EP with the concept centered around “Seattle to D.C.” this Spring.

His EP, which he calls conscious rap and more, will be produced by the Seattle-based Jake One. That will be followed by an album shortly after.

“My plans on that is to just make the best possible music that I can that sounds great to me. It’s up to the spectators or the listeners to decide whether they like it or not; I’m just kind of putting it out there, doing my thing and kind of telling my story, walking my journey and allowing people to witness it and be a part of it.”

“And when I say ‘be a part of it’, I mean to influence me, it’s helped me meet people that are thinkers and I love thinkers; that’s why a lot of my music is conscious rap. It makes you think, it makes you go over my lines.”

(editor’s note: Check out Martell’s “Disposition” here)

Webster released “Disposition” last year, and like virtually everyone, I was surprised to actually enjoy his music. It’s not often that athletes release enjoyable music, but Webster’s passion for the art is evident.

“I’ve had it my entire life. Like I told you about people being a part of my journey, it’s the people that you meet, the people that bring different perspectives. Life is all about evolving and changing, and that’s what we constantly do, otherwise we’d be the same people we were in high school and I think a lot of us tend to change and evolve.”

“It’s definitely been a metamorphosis-type feel, as far as my mindset and how I think more analytically now and kind of question everything. Now I’m even more comfortable with myself and not caring about what people are going to think of me and it allows me to express myself freely.”

His injuries — ones that haven’t allowed him to reach his full potential as a basketball player — have caused him to think of things much differently than he once did and that’s helped shape the art he works on throughout the course of the season.

“I don’t think my injuries were struggles, they were chances for me to really dive deep into my emotions as a human and not just to solely be conscientious of the fact that I’m an athlete. I’m still a human being.”

“You know, being an athlete doesn’t last forever. It’s a small period of your lifetime. Going through injury allowed me to view and get a different perspective on who I am as a human being. It’s molded me into the person I am today. I actually thank those injuries because they’ve helped mold me and change my way of thinking.”

Webster, like many athletes, wishes that he found the self-awareness about his body earlier in his career. That hasn’t stopped him from being optimistic about the future, though.

“And as far as my expectations this year, it’s to come in and kill it, of course. That’s how I’m training, that’s how I’m preparing myself, to come in and to be the best possible basketball player that I can be — not be the best possible backup, or best possible two man, but to be the best possible person and player second.”

The Washington Wizards added several wing players this summer — Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Gary Neal — and Webster is ready to embrace the small-ball approach, or whatever coach Randy Wittman has planned.

Playing stretch four is something that Webster knows he might have to do this upcoming season and he’s ready for the challenge.

“It’s definitely a change of pace, for sure — it’s more fast, more up-and-down, little bit more exciting, but I still appreciate and respect the methodical offenses that show up and slow it up in the half-court.”

“The San Antonio Spurs, even though they’re younger now and got the pieces they got, they still play so methodical and x’s-and-o’s oriented and it’s beautiful to watch. But, also, you could put in this other dynamic of small, fast, up-and-down pace and it makes for exciting basketball.”

Webster is planning to meet with the rest of the team in Los Angeles, where they’ll stage a mini-camp before the actual training camp begins next month.

“I think I fit in just well. We’ve got our little mini-camp coming up in Los Angeles on the 16th through the 19th where we’ll get to go in and build that camaraderie and start that chemistry early before we report back in September, and ultimately for training camp in October. This is to get a gauge on teammates, kind of open up and try to build something very special before we go into the season.”

On a roster centered around Wall and Bradley Beal, Webster is an often forgotten about player in D.C. After talking to Webster, I’m confident that we’ll see him bounce back this upcoming season and become a valuable contributor again.

Even more importantly, it’s great to see Webster focus on things outside of the court — his music — which is what athletes tend to forget. He’s worked his butt off this summer and I’m extremely excited to see what Martell Webster will produce, both on and off the hardwood.