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John Wall on Critics: 'I'm Going to Show Them I Earned' Supermax Contract

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 4, 2019

Washington Wizards' John Wall in action during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

As questions about John Wall's ability to play at an All-Star level get louder, the Washington Wizards point guard is anxious to prove his doubters wrong.  

Speaking to The Athletic's Michael Lee, Wall said criticism from social media serves as a driving force to prove he earned the contract Washington gave him:

"It fuels me. [The 20]16-17 [season] was my best year. [Averaged] 23 [points] and 11 [assists]. John Wall is a top-two point guard. I get injured. John Wall is not a top-five point guard? Now, because I'm injured, I can't defend myself. Now I've got the worst contract ever? That's fine. I deserved that contract. My whole mindset is—it's in my notes—I didn't deserve it? When I come back, I'm going to show them I earned it. I never want a handout. I always worked for mine. A lot of guys got a lot of stuff that's given. Never made McDonald's All-American. Took national player of the year away from me when I was in college. OK, I'm the No. 1 pick. I'm going to prove myself. You get the hype. I look back at it. My '09 class in high school, I can only name probably nine guys in the league. Out of my draft class, it's maybe eight guys in the league. It is what it is."

The Wizards gave Wall a supermax extension in July 2017 that guarantees him $207 million through the 2022-23 season. 

At the time, it seemed like a logical move to make. The five-time All-Star averaged 20.0 points, 9.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in four seasons from 2013-17. He only missed 12 games during that span, and the Wizards were coming off a Southeast Division title in 2016-17. 

Since he signed the deal, though, Wall's career has fallen off a cliff. He's only played 73 total games in the past two seasons, and his 30.2 three-point percentage in 2018-19 was his lowest since 2014-15. 

Compounding the problem for Wall is an Achilles injury he suffered in February that could keep him out for all of next season. The 2019-20 campaign is the last time the 28-year-old will earn less than $40 million for the remainder of his contract, though it's still a robust $38.2 million. 

The Wizards have a lot invested in Wall, so they will be hoping he follows through on his word and proves the doubters wrong. They finished 32-50 in 2018-19, their worst record in six seasons.