In the closing seconds of the Wizards' 117-110 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon, John Wall could not contain his excitement. While dribbling the ball down the sideline and across halfcourt, he leapt up and down in the air pumping his fist.
As soon as the clock ran out, he turned to the crowd in front of him, shouted and raised his hand in the air to encourage their applause. Wall and his team had just finished off their most impressive win of the season so far, a thorough performance against one of the NBA's best teams, and Wall was ready to celebrate.
That was just one of many moments shared between Wall and the 17,380 fans at the Verizon Center on Sunday. The Wizards' star point guard wears his emotions on his sleeve. That style can sometimes get him in trouble, like on Sunday when he earned his seventh technical of the season. But when used positively, Wall's energy can make even the most mundane of NBA regular season matchups a whole lot of fun.
"He's the most passionate and energetic player I know. He has the heart of a champion," guard Bradley Beal said of Wall.
"John is an emotional player," head coach Scott Brooks said. "That's how he plays. He gets the crowd involved. He plays with a lot of passion and I will never take that away from him. I like guys that play with passion. I don't like guys that don't compete and that's not John."
As the Wizards have played better in recent weeks - they have won five of their last six games overall and five straight at home - the crowds have followed. After the Wizards' win over the Bucks on Dec. 10, players remarked how it was the best crowd of the season. That group seemed to be outdone on Sunday.
"As long as our crowd continues to be as loud as they were [today], that would be great for us," Beal said. "We feed off their energy. I think sometimes they don't realize how important they are to us because their energy is like a sixth man. That's another challenge and a distraction to the other team. We definitely feed off that and John definitely feeds off of it."
"We feed off of it a lot. The crowd was in the game today and we needed that to win. We need them every game," forward Markieff Morris said.
"I thought our crowd was great. They were into the game. It helps when you have that support," Brooks said.
Wall certainly helped that cause both with his play - he had 18 points and 11 assists - and his efforts to egg them on. But, when discussing his emotion on the court, the technical does happen to stand out.
Wall received the penalty with 1:18 left in the third quarter after he made an up-and-under layup on a fastbreak. Blake Griffin went for the block, but instead hit him in the head and Wall wasn't happy about it.
"The play I got a technical on, I shot a reverse layup and got hit in the head," Wall said. "It's the same type of play that happened in our game against Memphis, when they looked at it and called it a Flagrant 1. I feel like we should get the same calls. I felt like that was a call that they should have looked at and called it a Flagrant 1."
Wall, of course, didn't get the foul he wanted. Instead, he has his seventh technical which trails only DeMarcus Cousins for the most in the NBA this season. One more and he's halfway to 16, the threshold for a one-game suspension in the NBA. The Wizards just played their 26th game, so there is plenty of time left for him to accrue more.
"I'm not concerned," Wall said. "It was just the emotion of the game... It's tough… you try to do the things that bring energy to your team. When things are not going your way, you try to find other ways to impact the game."
"John is an emotional player, as you saw with the technical. We will once again talk about that," Brooks said. "We have to keep our emotions in check. There's times when you lose control, I get that. And he's actually been better the last couple of weeks of keeping those emotions to himself and not the referees."