John Wall Officially Back After “The Crossover-Ish”
John Wall was waiting to grab a rebound during warmups before Washington’s game versus Orlando, and his face instantly lit up when he recognized Jay-Z’s voice over the loud speakers: “Aw man, it is Big Pimpin’ Baby.”
Wall continued to sing verses of the Jay-Z hit single as he filed through the layup line, enticing smiles out of his teammates. John Wall was back where he wanted to be, and the mood of the team was noticeably lifted. This was a different scene than that of the Nick Young/JaVale McGee/Andray Blatche era, where jacking around reigned supreme in warm-ups and a level of seriousness never materialized when it mattered. Wall was chatting up Bradley Beal non-stop and the rookie could not contain his laughter. The future franchise core tossed each other alley-oops—Wall struggled converting some dunks on his “jiggly legs.” Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin followed Wall’s lead with impressive slams of their own. Later during warmups, Wall started playing around with Kevin Seraphin on the left wing, shaking the big man with a crossover. Both cracked up. Wall mocked Seraphin’s inability to stay on his feet.
Wall’s engaging personality is often hidden in the button-downed, risk-averse image he presents in media interviews. Spend any time around Wall and you see the happy-go-lucky attitude is real and genuine. He appears to know every elite basketball player and partakes in many pregame pleasantries with opponents. The Orlando game was no different, as he greeted Magic reserve guard Ish Smith at half court—both hail from North Carolina, and likely know each other from the hoop circuit in the Tar Heel state. As the national anthem approached, Wall’s roommate and best friend, Tyrone (Ty) Williams, came over for their pre-game conversation ritual.
Williams grew up with the dynamic point guard in Raleigh and, although not blood related, Wall call’s him his “brother.” Ty attends almost every home game and sits near the floor. Through Wall’s infamous club appearances (which certain bloggers passive aggressively concern troll), trouble and off-the-court drama has never surfaced in any capacity. This might seem trivial and not worthy of praise, but being a young, rich NBA player makes you a target when you are just doing a simple activity like being out socializing with your circle of friends. This can be difficult waters for famous hoopers to navigate in a world full of hanger-ons and distractions. Williams deserves credit for keeping Wall away from any negative publicity or troublesome situations. (If only Arenas and Blatche had similar peeps.)
But for all Wall’s friendly banter, there are no jokes once the ball is tipped off and it is time to compete. I only mention these three Wall exchanges because they foreshadowed the play that put him back on the NBA radar in 2013.
The Wizards were up, 94-77, with the clock running down to end the third quarter. Wall was walking the ball up the court. Then, the Game Changer made the highlight reel:
Smith was embarrassed. Fans erupted. And Seraphin, on this occasion, was not the victim, but the beneficiary, of Wall’s crossover and dish.
Wall celebrated the highlight by immediately staring and nodding his head at his boy Ty, who was sitting with rapper Wale. Those haters calling him fat were nowhere to be found, and Comcast’s Chris Miller asked Wall the appropriate question,“Was the crossover on Ish Smith another one of those ‘I’m back’ moments?”
Wall answered, “I guess so. He (Ish Smith) told me that I was not going anywhere, then I hit him with another move, then all of a sudden I seen the crowd going wild.”
A.J. Price reacted to the crowd-pleasing play by pushing every teammate on the bench, before nearly tackling Wall. “I think that I was more hype than he was about the crossover,” Price mused. “Definitely a spectacular move.” After the game, Price joked that Wall put Smith in a body bag.
Smith’s smack talk motivated Wall, as remembered by Garrett Temple:
Ish Smith was talking some trash to [Wall], who crossed him over and came back with it. Ish lost his footing. It is tough to catch someone that is that quick and low to the ground, but he was able to get him.
Temple predicted it would be on SportsCenter’s top plays. “He gave it to Kevin, and he finished it off with a dunk so that should definitely be top five—at least.”
Wall will continue to rack up highlights, but this crossover move will always be memorable for it represents visual proof that Wall is healthy and ready to chase his goals of elite NBA stardom in his third season.
“We all know how quick John is,” Martell Webster said post-game, offering a quick tip to future opponents. “If you want to get to him and play tight, you better be able to move your feet. Not many people in this league can, not on him, he made him pay for it. Nice pass, Kevin got the dunk, it was pretty.”
Reactions from Wall and his teammates on the Crossover-Ish