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'I guess God is telling me something': John Wall in good spirits as he begins long recovery from Achilles surgery

'I guess God is telling me something': John Wall in good spirits as he begins long recovery from Achilles surgery

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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Dwight Howard reportedly takes another positive step in post-surgery recovery

Dwight Howard reportedly takes another positive step in post-surgery recovery

Dwight Howard is back. Back in town, at least.

According to a report from The Athletic, the Wizards’ center, sidelined since undergoing back surgery on Nov. 30, is expected to start on-court work in Washington.

The original timeline indicated a 2-3 month recovery timeline for Howard, who played in nine games for the Wizards but none since Nov. 18 against Portland. Howard, 33, has primarily rehabbed post-surgery in his native Atlanta.

Washington returns to practice Wednesday following the NBA All-Star break. The Wizards, 24-34, face the Hornets Friday in Charlotte before hosting the Indiana Pacers Saturday.

Needing to jump three teams for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards could certainly use more help. Whether that help comes from Howard remains to be seen. The report did not indicate if Howard would rejoin the team's full practices or when he would return to the lineup.

Howard missed training camp, preseason and the opening seven games while dealing with back and gluteal pain. The future Hall of Famer only played seven minutes against the Trail Blazers before exiting.

Less than two weeks later Dr. Robert Watkins performed a L4-L5 lumbar microdiscectomy after consultation with the Wizards’ medical staff determined disc herniation was causing severe nerve irritation and gluteal pain.

Washington signed the free agent center to a two-year, $11 million contract in July after trading longtime starter Marcin Gortat in June. The Wizards hoped Howard’s interior presence on both ends of the court would provide the team with needed low-post scoring, rebounding and rim protection.

Though he averaged 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds, Howard labored athletically. Washington struggled throughout the season on the boards.

His absence created an opportunity for second-year center Thomas Bryant, who has developed into an efficient scorer and energy provider.

The second season on Howard’s contract is a player option, an option he seemed likely to execute without returning to the court this season. For now, the question is how much can he help the Wizards with 24 games remaining.


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Charity event at All-Star weekend crossed paths between Bradley Beal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


Charity event at All-Star weekend crossed paths between Bradley Beal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

CHARLOTTE -- Wizards guard Bradley Beal was packing boxes with canned goods on Friday at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte, North Carolina when one of the greatest players in basketball history ducked through the door and made his way down the warehouse aisles, shaking hands and taking pictures. 

Beal is an NBA All-Star and was one of the headliners of an All-Star weekend charity event. And he had found himself in the presence of a legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. As Abdul-Jabbar passed Beal's table, the Wizards guard imitated his famous sky-hook with a big smile on his face.

Beal, 25, is carving out a standout career for the Washington Wizards. He is also continuing to grow off the court with various charitable efforts and an affinity for giving back.

Abdul-Jabbar has set the standard in both realms. He won six NBA championships, made 19 All-Star teams and is widely considered among the very best athletes of all-time. He is also a longtime philanthropist with an admirable history of using his platform to help others.

Abdul-Jabbar was there to greet citizens of Charlotte and also promote his Skyhook Foundation and its involvement with Goldin Auctions. He is auctioning off many pieces of memorabilia from his playing career, including NBA championship rings and most valuable player award trophies.

Abdul-Jabbar is raising money to help elementary school kids in the Los Angeles area go to camps to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

"STEM is where all the good jobs are going to be in the 21st century," Abdul-Jabbar said. "We want to get to them before peer pressure and popular culture get them to thinking that; so many think that they have to be Beyonce [Knowles] or Denzel [Washington] or LeBron [James] to be successful. We're trying to show them that 'hey, if you pay attention in math class or science class, you can be an engineer.'"

Abdul-Jabbar took notice of Beal and his efforts in Charlotte. He was proud to see a young NBA star giving back.

"I just had the opportunity to talk to him. He seems like a classy young man," Abdul-Jabbar told NBC Sports Washington. "Certainly, you look at his stats, he's taking care of business on the court."

Abdul-Jabbar believes the NBA is in good hands with Beal's generation. He cited James' opening of a school in Akron, Ohio and how today's stars use their large contracts and platforms to make a difference in their communities. 

"I'm really happy to see what's going on. So many of them, they care about what's happening back home. They go out of their way to make sure that they do something with what they've been blessed with. I've got a lot of respect for them and it's something I'm really happy to see," Abdul-Jabbar said.

Beal had a few options for events to attend at All-Star weekend and chose the Second Harvest Food Bank. He spent hours putting together food packages for families in poverty and interacting with local volunteers. 

Beal said he would have stayed longer if he had the choice.

"I don't get tired of helping people. I could literally stand here all day," he said. "If I didn't have other events, I would be here all day, no matter how many boxes we have to stack up, until there is no more food left to put into the boxes."

Beal was grateful to do his part in helping those who don't have homes or food, especially during the cold winter. And he was proud to help out alongside Abdul-Jabbar, who has set a high bar for he and other NBA players off the court.

"It's humbling, man," Beal said. "That's just motivation for me and a lot of people to just constantly do what is right and do what it takes to help other people."