Let's hope a messy exit doesn't tarnish John Wall's legacy


Update: Wall, according to a report, was traded for Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.

There is probably no other league in the world in which it is more difficult to control the narrative than in the NBA, and when it comes to John Wall, it is already out of his and the Wizards' hands. Both sides can try to save face, if they want to, but that is much easier said than done. History has shown that.

We got to this point with Wall after trade negotiations were leaked. Then, there was a reported trade request which may have sealed the fate of a likely exit.

But really, it doesn't matter if Wall actually made the request or not. It's out there and the basketball universe believes he did. Once that's the case, there is no walking it back.

Training camp begins in a week and if Wall shows up, his future will be the elephant in the room. It may be easier for the team to control how things are faced in the media, with everything taking place on Zoom, but it will be impossible to control the message.

Regardless of how it is addressed, the reality is these situations usually end not only in messy fashion, but more often than not in a way that affects what was built between the player and team. Look at Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant, just to name a few.


All three had justifiable reasons to leave their original teams. All three accomplished even more with those teams than Wall has in Washington. Yet, all three are unpopular figures in the cities they played.

Anthony, Howard and Durant, if it were based purely on their on-court performance, should have their jerseys retired by their former teams. Maybe they will someday, but for now they settle with boos when they come to town as visiting players.

Wall's situation could be viewed differently by fans, as they may not blame him like the fans of the Nuggets, Magic and Thunder blamed the others. The other three skipped town hoping to chase rings elsewhere. Wall has shown remarkable loyalty over the years and would be leaving evidently because he feels misled.

Hopefully fans would see it differently, no matter how this ends. Wall has done too much for the franchise and the city of Washington to become persona non grata in any way.

Whether it happens soon or sometime shortly after his career is over, his jersey should hang in the rafters at Capital One Arena. He is objectively one of the best players the franchise has ever had and the 2016-17 version of him was as good as anything Wizards fans have seen in decades.

Along the way, whether he was healthy or playing well or not, he has remained committed to making a difference in the community. He won the league's community assist award, then took his charity efforts to new heights during the coronavirus pandemic. It would be hard to find another athlete in the history of professional sports in Washington, D.C. who has done more.

So, perhaps this is a plea to Wall and the Wizards. If it has to end, don't let it be ugly. You have found a way to coexist through tough times to this point. Don't lose sight of the good times you have had.