“Nothing else really matters except what those guys in the locker room think about you.”
There is an entire summer to work on becoming a more efficient offensive player. This season, teammates credited a team meeting after a disheartening home loss to Charlotte on April 9 with turning things around. It was one that also showed noticeable changes in Wall.
When coach Randy Wittman was showing video clips of Washington’s offensive struggles, Wall demanded that he go back to focusing on the defensive end. It was a vocal request that wouldn’t have happened his first few years in the league. Teammates picked up on it. The Wizards won nine of their next 10 games, including five in the playoffs.
Harrington said that simply continued a maturation process for Wall that began during a players-only meeting on Nov. 19 before a game against Minnesota following a frustrating 2-7 start. After that, Wall began voicing his opinion more often, even unprompted.
“John really embraced it,” Harrington said. “I guess he really was just waiting for somebody to give him the go-ahead like ‘Look, this your team. Here go the keys.’ After that, he did his thing.”
Early in his career, Wall said, he would have fought back when Wittman pushed him to take more responsibility for his team’s struggles. It isn’t a message players particularly care to hear. But it resonated this time, another step forward for a player with room still to grow.
“If you want to be the best player on the team and the franchise guy, you’ve got to be able to take that criticism in front of the team and sit back and accept it,” Wall said. “If you’re one that wants to argue back, it makes it seem like he can’t get on nobody else. That was a big step I took.”