“Somebody sent me a YouTube link on my Twitter and said 27 dunks that haven’t been done in the NBA dunk contest,” John Wall said after winning Saturday night’s dunk contest. “And the first one was that one, and it seemed hard, but for me it came out to be easy. So it worked out in my favor.”
Now, Wall didn’t identify that somebody who sent him the link. And in fact, at least two people sent the YouTube video in question — which has been viewed well over a million times — to Wall on Twitter. So we can’t say for sure whom Wall was referring to.
— Gary Baeton (@PhantimQ) February 9, 2014
What we can say is this: on January 30 — the day Wall was named to the all-star team, but a week before he even officially joined the roster of dunk-contest participants — Jared Watson, a 21-year old senior accounting student at Ohio State, sent this Tweet to Wall. “Here are some ideas,” it read, with a link to the video.
— Jared Watson (@JaredMWatson) January 31, 2014
Saturday night, Wall used one of those dunks to win, and Sunday morning, Watson woke up and read Wall’s quote.
“I was like waaiiit a minute,” Watson told me Sunday night. “I told my dad this morning that if it wasn’t for me, John Wall might not have won the dunk contest. I’m sure John had a little bit to do with it, but this morning I felt pretty good about myself.”
He was joking, obviously. Still, why is a 21-year old kid from Columbus so concerned with what John Wall does? Well, Watson moved to Haymarket in Prince William County when he was 10, and stayed there until 2006. His formative sports years thus involved the Wizards during the peak of the Arenas era, and he stuck with the team even when he moved to Ohio before starting high school.
He was surrounded by Cavs fans in Columbus, making the experience even more painful, but “I have loyalty when it comes to that stuff,” he explained. “I really hated LeBron, to be honest. He knocked us out so many times. I really couldn’t change my alliance like that.”
And thus, Watson has remained a Wizards fan into the Wall era, and he felt the same pride so many Wizards fans felt when the point guard began attracting positive national attention this season. He didn’t really figure that Wall needed help preparing for a dunk contest he hadn’t yet joined, but he figured sending the video couldn’t hurt.
“I just really wanted to see him do well,” Watson said. “He was put in that situation and I thought I’d just help him out. I was hoping that he’d see it but I didn’t have high hopes.”
Watson didn’t have any particular favorite dunks from the video, but he had no complaints with Wall’s choice. And obviously he has no way of knowing whether his tweet made a difference. But it sure makes for a decent story.
“I don’t know if it was me or not, but it was a cool experience,” he said. “It’s good for him, it’s good for the team. A dunk contest championship’s great, but I’m still waiting for the team to win an NBA championship. And I think him winning that sheds a more positive light on the team and hopefully makes it a little bit of a sexier environment for potential free agents and things like that.”