John Wall is expected to make his return to NBA action on Friday night for the first time in almost two years of recovering from injuries, and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks plans to tune in, knowing how much it has taken just for Wall to get to this point. Wall will ironically be playing in Brooks' old Rockets jersey number. More on that in a second.
As for Wall's comeback, Brooks is rooting for him to succeed.
"I wish him nothing but the best. As a fan of the league and a fan of John, I definitely will be watching if he does play and if it’s on the League Pass. I anticipate him having a very productive year," Brooks said.
When it comes to the jersey number -- Wall is going from No. 2 in Washington to No. 1 in Houston -- Brooks had some jokes about the legacy Wall is now walking into. Brooks played three years in Houston and won a championship in 1994, but wasn't exactly a star. He was a back-up point guard, albeit good in his role.
"It’s going to be tough to fill. It’s going to be tough. There’s been a lot of great tandems in the league’s history. Magic [Johnson] and [Kareem Abdul-]Jabbar. Shaq [O'Neal] and Kobe [Bryant]. [Hakeem] Olajuwon and Brooks. I’m sure, knowing John, he’s going to do his best," Brooks said.
"He has some 10.5 shoes to fill, so I’m sure he’s going to fill those pretty quickly. After about two minutes on the court, he’s going to have a better career than my three years there."
Wall will certainly not be a back-up or a role player by any means. He is expected to play a key role for the Rockets, who traded Russell Westbrook to Washington in order to acquire him.
And with James Harden's future in question, Wall has assumed the role as the face of the team, at least temporarily. Now he just has to live up to the history of that No. 1 jersey.
Wall and the Rockets open their preseason against the Hawks at 8 p.m.