Washington Wizards point guard John Wall was excellent in Sunday's 106-98 Game 4 win over the Toronto Raptors at Capital One Arena, registering 27 points, 14 assists, six rebounds and three steals, and after the game, starting center Marcin Gortat commented that an unselfish Wall is the best Wall.
"That's John Wall," Gortat said of the point guard's big performance, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. "I am glad he's healthy. He is spoon-feeding me. I am getting fat now. Listen, if he plays the right way, he is the best point guard in the league. If he looks for his teammates and looks for the open possession where he can attack, he is the best."
It's the third game in Round 1 that Wall has posted 14 or more assists, and Game 4's victory evened the Eastern Conference series at two games apiece.
But if there seemed to be some subtext in Gortat's comments—i.e. that Wall doesn't always play the right way—it wouldn't be the first time.
In February, Gortat tweeted the following after a victory while Wall was sidelined with his knee injury:
And Bradley Beal, who fouled out late in Sunday's contest, also commented after that game.
"Everybody eats. That's our motto," the shooting guard said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. "That's fun basketball. Everybody gets to touch it; everybody gets shots. It makes life easy. It just keeps the locker room close. It keeps our camaraderie going."
Wall didn't appear to appreciate the implication—or the perceived implication—that the team had better ball movement with him out of the lineup.
"I know I'm a team player. I average almost 10 assists a game," he told SportsCenter after Gortat's tweet (h/t Candace Buckner of the Washington Post). "I'm very prideful in finding my teammates and getting guys easy shots. Even more just shocking hearing it from him and understand he gets the most assists from me and gets the most spoon-fed baskets ever."
He didn't take kindly to Beal's comments either, per Buckner:
"That was funny to me. That's a joke. If you want to say team win and put it in exclamation points or everybody eats and all that. I'm one of the top point guards that passes the ball more than anybody. I hear a lot of times I pass too much sometimes. I know what I do for my team, I know what I bring every night. Like I said, if any guys have a problem with me they can talk to me face to face as a man. And if you can’t do that then I lose a lot of respect for you."
Beal made it clear that his comments weren't intended to be a dig at Wall but a reference to the movie Paid in Full, while Gortat added that he hadn't directed his remarks at Wall either. And Wall and Gortat met to air their grievances after the center's tweet in February, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com.
There has appeared to be tension in Washington this season, however. Wall and Beal haven't seemed to get along in the past, and Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea suggested this season that Wall's teammates don't like him.
Gortat may not have been offering Wall a backhanded compliment Sunday, but there is a mountain of context to consider any time Gortat offers an opinion on his point guard.