By: J.T. Shatzer
After a decade of high-flying dunks, flashy passes, clutch performances, and all-star caliber seasons, The Washington Wizards have parted ways with John Wall, as they send him to the Houston Rockets in exchange for former league MVP Russell Westbrook. The trade came into fruition after both Wall and Westbrook expressed their desire to leave their respective franchises. From an outside perspective, the trade can be seen as a win-win situation for both teams, as both the Wizards and Rockets are looking to make major jumps this coming season. Wizards fans all across the DMV took to social media to express their gratitude for John Wall’s contributions to both the team and the community over the years.
Due to the pandemic, the NBA’s offseason was the shortest in professional sports history, forcing teams to make moves much quicker than they had in the past. Since the Wizards hope to make a playoff push in the Eastern Conference, they made some drastic changes, with the most monumental being John Wall’s departure and Russell Westbrook’s arrival. Lifelong Wizards fan, Niko Garbis, expressed his mixed emotions about the move as he explains, “I have so much love for John Wall. I have his jersey hanging in my room. But honestly, it was for the best, and I think Westbrook is going to do some damage for us.” After the last couple of years being quite disappointing for the Washington Wizards, fans are hopeful that their team will finally make the jump to the next level with the acquisition of Westbrook.
Wall, the former Washington point guard, had been battling injuries for the past two years, causing him to be inactive for the last two seasons. During Wall’s recovery process, Wizards shooting guard, Bradley Beal, was having some breakout seasons which put him among the league leaders in scoring. Wizards fans were eager to see the two play together once more, however, they now have a new duo in the backcourt to look forward to watching. A professional basketball fanatic, Matt Skovron, expressed his high hopes for the team as he states, “Westbrook has been one of my favorite players in the league for a long time now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s sad to see Wall go, but I really think Westbrook is a great fit for the organization and will get us back to the playoffs.” With this season seeming to have the expectations of playoffs or bust, fans are finally confident that success for their beloved franchise is soon.
Over his decade-long tenure with the Wizards, Wall’s contributions to DC were almost as big off the court as they were on. From connecting on a deep level with the fans, to helping the less-privileged through charity, Wall continuously proved himself to be the type of person any team would want representing their city. Upon his departure, Wall donated 400,000 dollars to Bright Beginnings, an educational development center for homeless children. Speaking on her admiration for Wall, Glenelg Senior, Brooke Taylor, states, “He has always been someone I looked up to. Unselfish both on and off the court. It has always been great to see him interact with the fans before and after games, and you can tell just how genuine of a guy he is.” DC will most definitely be missing Wall, regardless of an improved team or not.
Despite losing Wall, the DC icon, Wizards fans should be very enthusiastic about what’s to come. Russell Westbrook is a nine-time all-star, two-time league scoring champion, and former league MVP. His relentless mentality should add some necessary grit to a Wizards team that seemed to be flat last year, and his veteran presence should help guide many of the Wizard’s young players in the right direction throughout the season. Excited for the presence of Westbrook in Washington, Glenelg Senior, David Toronto, explains, “I think he’s the perfect fit. Westbrook has the kind of toughness that a team needs to win championships, and I really think he is going to bring that same attitude to DC.” With the NBA season right around the corner, fans all around the DMV and the country will be waiting in anticipation for the new-look Wizards to take the floor.
With John Wall’s tenure in DC coming to an end, the transition into the “Westbrook era” feels bittersweet to the devoted fans of the Washington Wizards. As Westbrook takes the reigns of the Wizards alongside emerging superstar Bradley Beal, hope for a championship run in DC has never been higher.