John Wall’s Meaningless Fifty Dollar Fine | Truth About It.net

John Wall’s Meaningless Fifty Dollar Fine

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Updated: January 21, 2011

John Wall asking to be fined by the Wizards’ coaching staff when he sulks or shows poor body language is a good thing. But is too big deal being made out of it?

Yes, at face value it’s refreshing to hear. In an NBA that’s getting younger, these are the situations that coaches like Flip Saunders have found themselves with … managing feelings and attitudes in addition to game plans. So when a player makes a request to be disciplined, ears perk up … because it’s new to us, but it doesn’t make the act any more valuable than someone who is able to keep themselves in check on their own.

Toward the end of the Wizards’ 18th game of the season, when the team was only 0-9 on the road (5-12 overall), was when I first noticed prevalent signs of Wall’s waning attitude and focus — in a tight home game against the Portland Trailblazers that the Wizards were trying to win no less. Here’s an excerpt:

With 33 seconds left, after Brandon Roy had scored to cut Washington’s lead to 79-74, coming out of a timeout, the Wizards were taking the ball side-out on their end. Instead of using an Andray Blatche screen to run toward Kirk Hinrich, who was taking the ball out of bounds, Wall listlessly scrambled away from Hinrich. The Wizards were forced to take a 20-second timeout. Flip Saunders chided Wall on his way to the bench, pointing toward the corner where he should have been.

The Wizards eventually inbounded the ball, and Blatche was sent to the line to shoot two free-throws. As the players lined up, Wall reluctantly guided his body in the other direction, frustrated. That’s when Flip asked his question, “Are you okay?”

[...]

Wall gave a slight nod, but kept the deadpan look on his face. In 40 minutes on the night, he had 10 points on 3-13 shooting, four turnovers and two assists. He’s had bad games before, but this one seemed different.

My essential conclusion: John Wall is 20-years old, no biggie, but this is also an area which needs vast improvement.

Since, including the win versus Portland, the Wizards have gone 7-16, 0-11 on the road … and clearly the frustration from Wall, even though he hasn’t always shown it, has festered.

Wall first divulged the fact that he asked the coaching staff to fine him for attitude transgressions after the Wizards beat the Utah Jazz on Martin Luther King Day, a story which was initially relayed by Michael Lee of the Washington Post.

So now we reach the crossroads where… Is a $50 fine really a big deal to a millionaire? Or is it simply a gimmick on top of what an individual needs to accomplish alone, separate from monetary concerns and who might be judging and doling out punishment? One fact of life, no matter how much money one makes, and in some senses, heightened when one makes above-average pay, money can be a motivator. Just ask the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of whom has evidently written NFL playoff bonus amounts on the team grease board with the suggestion: “Don’t f*ck with my money” in preparation for their game versus the New York Jets this weekend. For many, that’s more powerful than anything Rex Ryan’s bunch can say though the media.

Money is a type of motivator, but it means nothing. It means nothing when John Wall asks to be fined for sulking unless he makes a conscious effort to stop the action. If putting a price on attitude helps, then great … but again, it means nothing.

What’s more valued than money talking are the words from Wall as he explained part of the relationship between him and Flip Saunders, or any of his coaches for that matter. After the Jazz game, he said:

“…Told them to keep pushing me, to keep making me better … that’s what I tell all my coaches and that’s what I told them the first day they drafted me … is that I want to be a great point guard so keep working…” -John Wall

Wall is aware that he can’t become great on his own, that he must have the help of others. He wants to be coached and he’s not afraid to ask. Those are the aspects which are far more important than requested fines and meaningless dollar signs. Can’t wait to see where this kid goes next.


  • Jacob

    This could be a great economics lesson. Wall has basically imposed a tax on himself where the elasticity of effort is qutie low. Like you point out, this whole thing is for meaningless (although perhaps it exhibits a good attitude, one that is welcome), but the fine will do nothing unless Wall starts frowning a lot and has to pay out enough to affect behavior. Great post.

  • Patrik Trimmer

    he always has this look on his face like something doesn’t smell right. i mean if NY was criticized for his facial expressions and body lingo in the past somebody should really have a talk with John. He looks like he works as a septic tank technician, not a 20 yr old getting millions to play basketball and wear shorts to work (the gubment don’t let me wear shorts)

  • http://www.shattertheglass.com bgalella

    The Wizards should be glad John Wall is taking this step.

    Even though he’s the top scorer on the team, Wall has made a concentrated effort to involve his teammates and is trying to turn around the culture in the locker room.

    It’s a positive step and something Washington desperately needs.

  • williesurvive

    We need a coach bad-this is another sign that Sam Cassell’s is running the show.