The Wizards lost to the Lakers on Wednesday night in one of those weird games where a spunky, young team that’s not actually good but plays hard and takes down a much better team that is in the middle of a West Coast road trip.
People that have watched the NBA for awhile know these kinds of things happen, especially in L.A. when a team just had a night off to enjoy the town (and the Warriors loom in the next game). However, after the Wizards fell to 3-1 on the season in overtime, the talk was all about John Wall, Lonzo Ball, and what this meant for the two point guards that battled it out.
Neither point guard shot the ball well, with Wall going 7-for-22 for 19 points and Ball going 2-for-11 for six points. Wall had nine assists as well, while Ball had 10 dimes and eight boards. The performances by both would normally be considered “mediocre to fine” with nothing disastrous or great from either. But because Lonzo got the win and there was plenty of talk coming in about Wall saying he’d show “no mercy” to the rookie and his teammate Marcin Gortat claiming he’d “torture” Ball, it became a referendum on both early in the season.
LaVar Ball unsurprisingly took his victory lap after his prediction of an L.A. win came true, but ESPN’s senior takesmith Stephen A. Smith also had a message for John Wall, telling him to “shut the hell up.”
“John Wall, you are a star in this league,” Smith said as he started to warm up the rant. “You’re one of the best two-way guards in the game of basketball. You are deserving of every penny you have gotten and then some. But you know what I need you to do John Wall? I need you to shut the hell up for the immediate future. Because coming into this game what you did was say, ‘no mercy.’ Excuse me, but it would be nice if you would sit there and say that about LeBron James, who keeps going to NBA Finals at the expense of everyone in the Eastern Conference, which includes you John Wall. These Washington Wizards are good enough to be the team that beats the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. …
“You’ve got to take that into consideration. You’re going up against a rookie last night and what do you do? You shoot 7-for-22 from the field after all that gibbering and jabbering y’all were doing? All that bloviating. … Bradley Beal shows up, being the star he is because we all know this brother can play. He did his part. Where was John Wall? … Someone needs to tell John Wall, the Russell Westbrook’s of the world, the Kyrie Irving’s of the world, the Steph Curry’s of the world — people you deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as — if they sit there and chirp before going up against somebody before a game, they’re going to show up and handle their business.”
I get it, to a point. If you’re going to call someone out and not back it up when you are supposed to be the better player and clearly have the better team, you’re going to have to eat some crow. That said, Wall didn’t really say all that much. He seemed completely disinterested in engaging with the Ball family and was fairly complimentary of Lonzo ahead of the game before eventually giving the “no mercy” quote, which was in response to a question about whether he felt bad at all for Lonzo having to deal with people getting fired up to play him because of his dad.
This is going to be how it goes whenever Lonzo squares off with one of the league’s top point guards. Each game will be a measuring stick for where he is in the league and LaVar will be sure to make sure people don’t forget when he beats one of them. As for Wall, he’ll be fine, he’ll move on and continue being one of the league’s best point guards, and he’ll almost assuredly keep speaking his mind when he chooses whether Stephen A. says he should or shouldn’t.