Washington Wizards: Three years ago, John Wall proved why you shouldn’t doubt him

Before counting out the prince of the city, remember the heights he took us to, and can still reach. John Wall and the Washington Wizards are not done.

The last time John Wall played a basketball game for the Washington Wizards was December 26, 2018. It’s been a while.

A 17-month injury-induced hiatus has some people (a lot of people) counting out the former All-NBA point guard. But a week after Wall vowed to come back better than ever on the All The Smoke podcast, we’re reminded why Wall deserves another chance to do things the ‘Wall Way.’

May 12, 2017. Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 6.

On this day three years ago, John Wall hit one of the biggest shots in franchise history. The circumstances around the shot illustrate that no matter the situation, whether it be a return from a long injury rehab or a deficit in the final seconds, Wall delivers.

Setting the Scene

The top-seeded Boston Celtics showed up to the Verizon Center for Game 6 up 3-2, dressed in all black, and ready for a funeral. John Wall was unfazed. Including the regular season, the Wizards and Celtics had already met nine times before Game 6. No team had won away from home.

Luckily, the Wizards were the home team that night. After a low-scoring first half in which he only hit one of his nine attempts from the field, Wall was still unfazed. He exploded for 23 of his 26 points in the second half, willing his Wizards to a Game 7.

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In a must-win game with the series and the season on the line, John Wall delivered. And he did so in improbable fashion.

Against All Odds

When Wall hit “the biggest shot of (his) life” to send the series to Game 7 (which the Wizards would, unfortunately, lose in Boston), the Wizards were down just two. They didn’t technically need a three to stay alive. And for Wall to be taking a three at all was ludicrous.

That season, Wall shot just 32 percent from behind the arc. In the series against Boston, he was even worse. Per Basketball-Reference, he had made only 10 of his previous 33 three-point attempts before pulling up for the eventual game-winner.

The whole Wizards team was particularly off from outside that game. In the dramatic win over the Celtics in Game 6, the Wizards made five of their 24 three-point attempts.

The three-balls weren’t falling for Wall or the Wizards. Yet John Wall delivered. And he did so on a broken(ish) inbounds play with Avery Bradley — Boston’s best on-ball defender — in his face.

When Wall pulled up, there were still 5.5 seconds left on the clock, more than enough time for him to blast towards the hoop for a shot at the rim. Something more reliable, more on brand. Forget about it.

In the biggest moment of his career (up to that point), John Wall saw the expectations and met them with the biggest middle finger (before twisting those fingers into something else). When the pressure was on, Wall delivered, and he delivered for D.C.

After extending the season, even if just for one game, the energy in the Verizon Center was euphoric and raw. And at the center of it, standing and screaming atop the scorer’s table like a superpowered ringleader, was John Wall.

If just for that night, John Wall was the most powerful person in the nation’s capital.

And Now We Wait…

Fast forward three years and John Wall has not led the Wizards back to those same heights. After being gone from the game for as long as he has been, it’s fair to wonder what Wall we’ll get back. But time and time again since being drafted by the Wizards in 2010, Wall has given fans every reason to believe in him, to trust that he’ll defy the odds like he did against Boston.

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On the anniversary of one of his most impressive shots, it’s time we stop wondering and worrying what type of Wall will return and trust that our former point god can lead us to new heights with a retooled roster around him.

Wall’s proven it’s not a good idea to doubt him. I, for one, am not going to start now.

At this point, it’s unclear when the NBA will get back to action, but with each passing day, we get closer and closer to Wall’s return. I’m ready. Are you?

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