Thursday , Jun , 24 , 2010 C.Y. Ellis

HoopsVibe Interviews John Wall

Trust me when I tell you that manning the HoopsVibe inbox is a thankless task. From the eternal reservoir of spam to the various "opportunities" that hinge on a large wire transfer to Western Africa, email duties generally bring me little joy. There are days when the "Delete All" option sweetly beckons me in, tempting me to clear away every "You’ve Won!" and "h3rbal v1agra" with a single cathartic click. Tuesday evening was just such a time, and after an hour of wading through a sticky bog of junk email I had begun to wonder if smacking my PC upside the hard drive would make all the sadness go away.

Mercifully, I stumbled across a promising subject line just as I had settled upon a standard house brick as my weapon of choice. Media Advisory it began, as they usually do. Reebok press conference it continued. A few lines in, one-on-one time with John Wall stood out. Directly below, the words Complimentary breakfast. Sold.

With the possibility of interviewing John Wall and the guarantee of a free meal, my decision was made for me. The next morning I crammed myself into the Q train, eventually negotiating enough space between an elderly gentleman sporting an "I ♥ Jesus" trucker cap and a sour-faced hipster to break out my trusty notepad and scribble a few questions in anticipation of the interview. On arriving, the event proved to be everything that was promised and more, with a bevy of attractive Reebok PR ladies flanking a breakfast table crowned by a mountain of fruit tartlets so tall that the Knicks considered drafting it in the second round.

The event itself kicked off shortly thereafter with the debut of John Wall’s first Reebok ad, a thirty-second spot for his signature sneaker, the Reebok Zig Slash. Incidentally, it’s a great ad, and you can watch it here or catch it on TV during tonight’s NBA draft coverage. The shoe itself is a fascinating piece of technology. While I was among the many who questioned its looks when I saw the first promo shots, the design makes a lot more sense when you have a chance to really scrutinise the sneaker. What’s more, it’s very much a functional design, with the zig-zag outsole serving to return the energy expended by the player as they perform the standard range of basketball motions.

After a brief introduction, John Wall stepped into the crowd, with a line of reporters quickly forming, each waiting their turn to grill the near-guaranteed first pick on the 2010 draft. Thanks to an assist from Jonathan Schechter at Reebok, HoopsVibe was assigned to the third slot, meaning I had to hover near the media scrum for only a few minutes before it was my turn.

A note on John Wall: He’s very young. It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget when you watch him play with such poise and maturity. Seeing him standing a true 6’3" and looking slighter in the upper body than he does in uniform, Wall’s hardwood feats become all the more impressive. With an extra five or ten pounds of muscle, he could one day put his unusual footspeed and 6’9" wingspan to use in the post against perhaps two-thirds of the league’s starting point guards. Throw in an improved jumper and commitment to defence and Washington could have a future Hall-of-Famer on their hands. Scary when you consider that the kid is still a summer away from his twentieth birthday.

Read on for HoopsVibe’s interview with John Wall, and let us know your thoughts by dropping a comment at the bottom of the page.


HoopsVibe: In all likelihood you’ll be going first in tomorrow night’s draft. Does that bolster your confidence or is it added pressure?
John Wall: That’s what my dream is, to be the number-one pick. So it feels good, but since high school there’s always been a lot of pressure to live up to the expectations. So I’m basically trying to live up to the hype – just go out there, play the game and enjoy the moment.

There are a lot of strong point guards in the league right now. Who are you most looking forward to going up against in your first season?
All of ’em. All of ’em are talented guys, but you have your standouts like Derrick Rose, Rondo, Deron Williams, Chris Paul that are All-Star-type players. And then you have rookies like Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry that came in and did a great job this year – and Tyreke Evans. So basically all these guys are good, so you have to be prepared to play every night.

Which NBA players do you think you most resemble on the court?
I think Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, and people say Derrick Rose.

People are still clowning guys like Jalen Rose and Steve Nash for what they wore on draft night. How much effort did you put into picking your outfit?
I ain’t pick it. I let my moms pick it this time. It’s a big event and her birthday was on Monday, so I let her pick it. So hopefully she ain’t get me a suit like they did with the all-red or anything (laughs).

You’ve just signed a deal with Reebok, and your rookie contract isn’t far off. What do you have planned for your first major purchase?
Basically, it was getting my mom a house. I got my mom a house, and I got myself a car – a Range Rover. But I’m not too much of a spender. Growing up I didn’t have too much, so I still want to cherish it, and everything I get I thank God for it.

Have you spoken to Gilbert Arenas yet?
I talked to him a little bit on Blackberry messaging, but not on the phone or anything yet.

How do you see you and Gilbert meshing in the backcourt? Do you see yourself handling the ball primarily with Gilbert sliding over the two?
If they decide to pick me, I feel like we can work together. He’s a two-guard that can score a lot. He’s just a little short, but I feel like he’s an explosive scorer.

You’ve got a little time before you report to the Wizards. What do you plan to do with your summer in preparation for next year?
Basically what I’ve been doing the whole summer. I was in LA working out and getting better every day with my team and my trainers, so that’s what I’m going to continue doing.

Have you set any specific goals for your rookie season?
Ah, yeah. You know, you want to win Rookie of the Year – you’ve got goals you reach yourself. Then you’ve also got organization changes – get them close to being a playoff a contender or make the playoffs your first year.

We’ll soon be seeing you in a new league, a new city and a new uniform, but there’s one thing the fans are hoping that stays with you next season. Will the John Wall dance be coming with you to the NBA?
Oh, yeah. I’ma keep it going (laughs).