It has now been over 48 hours since the official word that the John Wall era in Wizards basketball history is over. The John Wall love within the Washington, D.C. community will remain and makes accepting the trade all the more difficult. Before Russell Westbrook makes his debut at Wizards training camp on Saturday, general manager Tommy Sheppard, head coach Scott Brooks, and publically anointed franchise player Bradley Beal addressed the media on Friday. Part of that was used to give Wall his flowers.
Sheppard has been with the Wizards organization for the entirety of Wall's 10-year career in Washington. The two were close and hugged out a farewell on Thursday.
“John Wall, one of the greatest players in this franchise’s history and he’s somebody who’s very dear to me. We have a very outstanding relationship that goes back to when he walked in here. He says he was 195, I think he was about a buck eighty when he walked in the doors. He was our No. 1 pick and we watched him grow up. So many fantastic memories, so many great times together and understand I’ve said this before how difficult trades are. Because when you trade somebody, you trade everything that came with it and John’s family is my family and I walked the walk with him. His family, Ms. Tonya, Ms. Cierra [Wall’s sisters], everybody we’ve been exposed to over the years and now with Ace and Amir [Wall’s sons]. Just watching John become the man that he is today, it’s difficult to say goodbye. On an emotional level, that was a very difficult trade for me by far, 27 years in this business. But I want to remove the emotion from this and explain to you the reason that we do things in this basketball world. My job is to make the Washington Wizards the very best franchise it can be. … I do want to salute John Wall for being one of the most fantastic people. All the exciting assists over the years he’s given us out on the floor, it just pales in comparison to the assists he’s done in the community. This will always be his home, he was tremendous for the Wizards, tremendous for this community, literally keeping the lights on, food on the table for so many people and his heart is bigger than the DMV and we will miss him, we wish him well.”
One of Brooks' first meetings of Wall was in 2016 when the five-time All-Star was recovering from double knee surgery. The relationship had its ups and downs, but Brooks still gave Wall his best wishes.
“Met John four years ago when I took the job here and I grew a lot of respect during that time. His intangibles and his skillset and his toughness as a basketball player is just amazing. It’s unfortunate, and I talk about this throughout the years, there’s a thousand amazing things about being in the NBA and the worst thing is injuries. It’s unfortunate the last couple years he has not played, but when he was healthy, he was as good as anybody in the league. What he does off the court, just phenomenal. It’s a big thing that we’re about here, his ability to make a difference in the community is pretty incredible. Had a great conversation yesterday, came in, very class move, that’s what I thought he would do. He has a lot of great relationships here, he’s been here for 10 years. We spent some time together, we wished each other luck, much respect for one another. It’s going to be a great opportunity for him to do what he’s down here, to do it down in Houston.”
Through all of the noise, the real ones know that John Wall and Bradley Beal have a brother-like relationship, regardless of past ups and downs. The two All-Star guards don't have ill-will towards one another. Though not pressed hard, Beal and the Wizards organization is painting the picture that Sheppard has the full trust of the 27-year old shooting guard to trade Wall without Beal's confirmation. Regardless, Beal spoke at length about his love for Wall.
“Definitely been some tough 24, 48, 72 hours here. Letting it all seep in and realizing that your brother is no longer here with you no more. He’s off to something better. It's a tough pill to swallow. I never get into the game of playing GM. It's definitely a tough situation because John is my brother and our relationship goes far beyond basketball and that’s what’s so tough about it. We've developed a bond since I was in high school. We’ve head great years together, 8, 9 years together here in DC. It was definitely kind of a shock and crazy to see the news the other day but you understand the business of basketball. Shep is the GM and he has to make these tough decisions and this is probably definitely one of the toughest ones our organization has ever had to make. … John left a tremendous impact on the city of DC, he left a tremendous impact on me and my family. Our brotherhood continues. I’ve had conversations with John over the last few days and they’ve been nothing but positivity and they’ve been nothing but great conversations and my ultimate goal for him is to be happy.”
"I'm trying not to get emotional. It was tough because he's a brother. That relationship was so strong, but it was so crazy because a lot of people tried to break us apart, a lot of people tried to pull as apart, put us against each other. It was just always crazy because when we came together and had those conversations, it was the total opposite of what everyone was making rumors and noise. It was the total opposite. That’s a brotherhood that will never be thrown away, our relationship continues. That last conversation, it spoke volumes. I think it definitely spoke volumes for him to just come back, for him to just come back to the facility. I’m not sure if he was hurt or if he was happy, it just spoke volumes of who John is as a person for him to come back and say his goodbyes to everybody. Not many players do that, ever.”