There was no secret that towards the end of Marcin Gortat's tenure in Washington his relationship with point guard John Wall had frayed. As much as the team tried to hide it, they could only do so much when Wall went on national television and clapped back at a tweet from Marcin Gortat with the infamous "spoon-fed" comment.
Despite years of benefitting from each other on the court in one of the better pick-and-roll combinations in the NBA, the situation ultimately became untenable and Gortat was traded to the Clippers in the summer of 2018. Now that nearly two years have passed since his departure, and he has since retired from the NBA, Gortat looks back on their dysfunction with some regret.
This week, Gortat opened up to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the 'Wizards Talk' podcast.
"Playing with John was extremely great. I wish I could sacrifice more time to be a better leader back then, during the fourth and fifth year in the locker room. Now I can just say 'I wish.' But again, five years was extremely great and amazing to me," Gortat said.
The Wizards figured out very quickly what they were missing once Gortat left. They tried to replace him with Dwight Howard, who then showed up to training camp with a back injury. He played nine games in the 2018-19 season and his absence created a major void.
The Wizards didn't have a reliable screen-setter and they became arguably the worst rebounding team in the league. Their season then devolved from there.
Gortat also had an epiphany soon after leaving. He missed playing with Wall.
"You've gotta appreciate what you have. You appreciate what you have once you actually lose that. I was appreciating John even more when I went to the Clippers and I had a young point guard, Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], who is an extremely great point guard in this league. But he is a natural-born scorer, he's not a passer. I learned in L.A. really quick that not having John on the team, having a 19-year-old point guard is not the same thing," Gortat said.
These types of sentiments are common in sports when egos clash. Teammates don't get along, then they split apart and only then do they understand how good they actually had it.
Wall and Gortat helped lead the Wizards to their most successful era in decades, but for a variety of reasons, many were left wondering 'what if.' Gortat feels that way himself.
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