WASHINGTON – Were it not for a boot around his left leg and a scooter to rest it on, one fitted with handlebars and a braking system, there were no discernible differences in John Wall as he rolled through the Wizards locker room on Friday night to address reporters for the first time since news he is due for surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.
He was his usual, cheery self, smiling as he messed with teammate Jordan McRae by trying to knock a container of food out of his hand. Before he even turned to speak with the media, Wall showed his spirits were high.
That will naturally be a goal for Wall as he embarks on a recovery that could last well into next season. He is due for surgery on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. in Green Bay, WI. From there he is expected to miss 11 to 15 months, making it at least a possibility he misses all of the 2019-20 campaign.
Wall plans to be defiantly positive, knowing some tough days are ahead.
“I’m chilling and enjoying myself. Just a minor setback for an extra couple of months. Nothing to dwell on,” he said.
Wall, 28, has already taken a glass half-full approach. Though his left Achilles was possibly torn due to a fall in the bathroom, he believes it is better to have happened now than in four to five months. He could have missed the better part of two years had he suffered the rupture later in his original rehab from the left heel surgery he had on Jan. 8.
The new recovery timeline will ensure Wall will most of next season. That means he will have missed at least half of three straight years, his age 27, 28 and 29 seasons.
Wall, though, again wants to take the positive outlook. Maybe this latest injury is merely a sign for how he should treat his body in the future.
“I guess God is telling me something: Sit down and get yourself fully healthy,” he said. “I've played through injuries my whole career. I know a lot of people played through injuries and probably don't sit down. That's one thing I don't like to do. If it's something that's nagging or not broke, I want to play. I guess it kind of caught up to me,”
Wall will have plenty of time to get introspective in the coming months. He plans to hang out more with his infant son, Ace, and his mother, Frances, who is battling cancer.
Wall also plans to finish school. He has been taking classes on and off to finish his degree at the University of Kentucky and believes he may be able to get the necessary credits during his time away from the court.
Wall plans to attack his rehab like he has with other surgeries in the past. And he plans to shut up some of his detractors along the way.
Wall loves to use slights by the media and fans as motivation. So, naturally, he brought up unprompted some criticism he has received.
“All the people that talk negative like, 'you can't come back from it, you not this, you not that...' That will do nothing but motivate me even more. The same people when I was on top, you was respecting me and loving me,” he said.
Wall sat on the bench as the Wizards took out the Cavs on Wednesday in their first game since the 2019 NBA trade deadline. The team debuted three new players – Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wes Johnson – who helped them earn the victory.
During the first quarter, Wall was shown on the big screen following a montage of his highlights and his charity work in D.C. Wall raised his hand as fans gave him a resounding applause.
That support, Wall says, will be kept in mind as he moves through the arduous road ahead.
“This whole organization, this city period, from Day 1, they embraced me. Like I said, this is like a second home to me. As long as I got their support and the organization behind me, I don't care what the outside world says,” he said.
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