Why John Wall says ‘This is my city’

At least four times this season – and probably more – John Wall has made a very particular on-court declaration at Verizon Center: “This is my city!”

The Wizards point guard said it during an early season home win over the Lakers.

He said it during a December game against the Bucks, before Milwaukee staged an unexpected late rally to win.

He said it after a late-game surge over Brooklyn in March, when Wall helped erase a 12-point second-half deficit.

And he said it near the end of the regular season, during a home win over Atlanta.

So how does a North Carolina kid who hasn’t always been universally embraced in Washington arrive at such an emotional place?

“I don’t know,” Wall said with a smile after Wizards practice last week. “I feel like this is what I’ve been waiting for. I mean, I think each person that plays sports feels like this is their city, like they’re doing what they’re supposed to do for their team. That’s basically how I see it: I’m doing as much as I can for this team. And I wouldn’t be able to do it without my teammates and coaching staff, but I feel like this is our city, this is my city. And we’re accomplishing a lot of things that we want to keep going.”

Teammates didn’t have strong opinions on the message.

“I’ve seen him beat his chest; I never knew what he was saying,” Drew Gooden said. “I like it. Where we’re at right now, winning, I think this is his city.”

“It’s cool; it is [his city],” agreed Andre Miller, who was familiar with Wall’s expression. “He’s the franchise player.”

Wall said he’s more likely to break out that phrase when he’s particularly demonstrative, at the end of a game or following a big rally or a significant win. I asked him if he actually feels like he now claims ownership of the District.

“Nah, I just like to say it,” he joked. “When my emotions, are going you never know what I might say, to be honest. I might call somebody a [nevermind].”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg · May 5