Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard has been working in NBA front offices for decades, but he had never encountered a trade quite like the one he pulled off this week to send John Wall to the Rockets for Russell Westbrook.
It wasn't just the magnitude of swapping two star players. It meant saying goodbye to Wall, whom Sheppard watched grow up as a player and a man for 10 years after Washington drafted him first overall in 2010.
Sheppard began his press conference about the trade on Friday with some heartfelt words about Wall as he now departs to join another team for the first time in his career.
"I want to take a minute before we talk about who's coming in, I really want to dedicate some time to who's going out. John Wall is one of the greatest players in this franchise's history. He's someone that is very dear to me. We have a very outstanding relationship that goes back to when he walked in here," Sheppard explained.
"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 in my 27 years in this business."
Sheppard said he called Wall on Wednesday night to inform him of the trade and referred the conversation as "emotional." Wall then arrived at the team's practice facility on Thursday. The two hugged and say their goodbyes.
Sheppard, though, said the trade was necessary to improve the team's future. It was a tough decision, but one he feels puts the Wizards in a better position moving forward as they aim to build a perennial contender.
"I want to remove the emotions from this and explain the reason we do things in this basketball world. My job is to make the Washington Wizards the very best franchise it can be," Sheppard said.
Sheppard proved by making this move he is willing to set emotions and loyalty aside, which is an unfortunate side of professional sports, but often a necessary path to take. The Wizards had a good run with Wall. His jersey will likely hang in the rafters some day. But they had a chance to get Westbrook, a former MVP, and took it.