Most NBA players when asked what they’d like to accomplish in an All-Star Game, give some typical stock response like, “I just want to go out there and have fun” or “I just hope we can give the fans a good show.” But not Washington Wizards guard John Wall. No, he has bigger plans for Sunday’s All-Star Game in New York:
“I would love to break Magic [Johnson]’s all-time assist record,” Wall said with a grin.
That record, set by the former Los Angeles Lakers great in 1984, is 22 dimes, a tall order even for one of the league’s most talented point guards.
Still, if anyone knows how to dish the rock in one of these exhibition games, it’s Wall, who had 22 assists during the 2011 Rising Stars Challenge between the rookies and sophomores. The closest anyone has come to breaking Johnson’s record in recent memory is Chris Paul, who had 15 assists in 2013.
But Wall wants to put his name in the record book. He actually has been talking about it since before All-Star Weekend even got underway. Now that he’s there, though, he figures he may as well go for All-Star MVP while he’s at it.
“Whenever I get in something, I always want to be the best,” Wall said when asked whether he had his eye on the MVP trophy. “When I step on the court, I want to be the best player. I mean, everyone has a goal they’re trying to go out there and win, but yeah… if I could get All-Star MVP [that would be great]. That [is] a goal I have in my mind.”
The fact that he’s even here with an opportunity to break a record or win an MVP trophy is a testament to how far he’s come as a player. For the first few years, media couldn’t mention his name without adding “if he ever figures it out,” but John “If He Ever Figures It Out” Wall has done just that, thanks in large part, he says, because he got hurt.
“I think I was going too fast for the NBA game [earlier in my career], so speed wasn’t a problem for me,” Wall said. “I think just when I was injured, I had an opportunity to sit back and watch a lot of film and start understanding the game more, slowing down and changing pace, using different speeds.”
Slowing down and playing more in control has allowed the Wizards to have one of their better seasons over the course of the last decade. It is for that reason he was voted into the All-Star Game as a starter, and why he may stay there for many years to come.
“It’s great and a huge honor,” Wall said. “I just thank my fans for voting for me, thank my teammates and coaches because without those guys I wouldn’t be able to be in this situation.”
The situation will be especially fun if it results in 23 assists, and if that does happen, the All-Star MVP award can’t be too far behind.
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