It has been 419 days since John Wall last played in an NBA game. That is nearly 14 months of rehabbing injuries; first from surgery to remove bone spurs in his heel, then surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles.
That has given Wall plenty of time to take a step back, watch the game of basketball and ponder what it will be like when he finally returns to the court, which right now looks like it will be in October to begin next season. During this time off, Wall has had some realizations about basketball and its role in his life. He shared them in an in-depth conversation with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the 'Wizards Talk podcast.'
"Now you understand how quickly and easily things can be taken away," Wall said.
Wall has also learned the value of patience. Since going viral with a series of dunks before games, he keeps hearing from others that he should be playing in games for the Wizards.
"Everybody was like ‘if he is doing these types of dunks, he can play.’ Well, there’s a lot more to basketball than just dunking," he said. "That’s not playing 38-to-40 minutes and then seeing how your body reacts the next day. You won’t know that until you play in a game. So, that’s why I’m not rushing the process and trying to re-injure anything. I’m just taking my time."
Wall said he has been pleased with his progress and that those videos going viral have been a reward for the time and effort he has put into his rehab. He also said he has been able to do even more behind closed doors, including a practice where he threw down a windmill dunk off his left, surgically-repaired leg.
Wall has long been a left-handed dunker because he would get more lift off his right leg due to injuries to the left. But after surgery, he is feeling better jumping off that leg.
If Wall can jump higher off his left leg, that should help him when he returns. But don't expect too many changes to the way he approaches the game.
Miller asked Wall if he would change the way he plays — if he would deviate from the same aggressive player who attacks the rim consistently.
"Nope," he said. "That’s all I know."
Wall spoke with Miller on a long list of topics including how Bradley Beal's game has changed, his respect for Davis Bertans' shooting ability and how he has dealt with the passing of his mother. You can listen to the full podcast here.
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