• Daniel Butler

The End of "Wallway" in Washington

Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

December 2nd, 2020 the end of an era for the Washington Wizards. A legacy slipped away as the team shipped former all-pro point guard John Wall and a protected 1st round draft pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for another stud point guard, Russell Westbrook.

This move came as a shock to the Wizards fan base as the majority idolized him since the team drafted Wall as the number one pick in the 2010 draft. As a rookie, the Wizards young stud left his mark on the fans as he danced in front of the crowd before dropping 29 points and 9 steals in his first home game. While his infamous "dougie" was heavily criticized, it made the DC fan base excited for the lasting culture Wall would quickly develop.

As his career continued, the point guard only got better. Early in his career during the 2013-14 NBA season, Wall put up a 19.3 / 8.8 / 4.1 stat line which secured him a spot in his first NBA All-Star game. The Washington fans were anticipating his breakout as John Wall set a new norm, putting the entire NBA on notice. The same year, Wall carried the team to their first playoff appearance since 2008. John Wall and sophomore shooting guard Bradley Beal formed a new backcourt to take down the Chicago Bulls in a mere 5 games to move on to the second round. Despite their steady incline, the Wizards eventually lost to the Pacers in 6 games, but it was still the most excitement DC had for many years in the NBA.

Immediately following up his breakout year, John Wall made it back to the all-star game, averaged 10 assists per game, and led the Wizards back to the playoffs. DC was the 5 seed in 2015 with valuable players Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce at John Wall's side. Washington took down the Raptors during a historic first playoff sweep in team history just before losing to the Hawks in a well-fought series. The team fell short of a championship again, but the praise for Wall only continued to grow. Fans dubbed him "Wall-Star" for his repetitive All-Star appearances, and coined the new success of the Wizards the "Wallway" as John Wall left his mark on the new force in the Eastern Conference.

The Wizards and Wall each continued their climbs in the 2016-17 NBA season. The All-Pro point guard's season averages became better than ever with a 23.1 / 10.7 / 4.2 line, thrusting the Wizards into the playoffs as the 4 seed. Washington got revenge on the Hawks in the first round, ending Atlanta's season with ease. In the second round, in which the Wizards failed to advance the two appearances prior, the Wizards faced the rival Boston Celtics. In game 6, a must win situation for the Wizards, Wall had his career defining moment. He took an in-bound with seconds left on the clock, put up a three, then splashed the tray to win by 1 point. Wall immediately hopped up on the announcers table and riled up the fans during one of the most electric moments in Wizards history. To Washington fans, everything seemed to be lined up for a championship in the near future, but their performance only went downhill from there.

Boston defeated Washington in series-deciding game 7 OT, despite John Wall putting up dominant numbers throughout the entire playoffs. The Wizards lost their mojo after this playoff-ending series because the following season was a struggle. Wall's numbers took a slight dip as DC barely snuck into the playoffs, but were quickly eliminated by the top seeded Raptors.

In the season after his first round exit, John Wall only played 32 games before succumbing to multiple injuries, one of which included a torn achilles that took him out for the rest of that season and the next. The team became a bottom-feeder in the Eastern Conference, coming nowhere near the playoffs in both seasons without their star point guard.

Despite his absence, the Wizards' fan base never yielded their dedication for the beloved "Wall-Star". John Wall received boundless support from both his team and fans during his lengthy recovery process. With the 2020-21 NBA season approaching, hype for the Wizards star's return grew rapidly, but came to an unimaginable halt with news of Wall's trade. Despite initial pushback by DC fans of Wall's desire to leave, the Wizards ultimately chose to bring in perennial All-Star and former MVP, Russell Westbrook, in exchange for their longest tenured player.

Wizards fans are now left only able to reminisce John Wall's DC triumphs as he tries to make his comeback with the Rockets. While the new powerful duo of Westbrook and Beal gives new hope of Washington victory, no one will forget the legacy of the "Wallway" and its massive lasting effect on Washington basketball.