John Wall’s week of training with Team USA didn’t end the way he would’ve liked. After his uneven performance during a showcase that ended with the grotesque Paul George injury, Wall was cut Monday from the team, along with teammate Bradley Beal.
But if there is any positive that can be taken from his early departure, it’s that Wall will have a chance to complete an Adidas promotional tour through China and Japan next week.
More than a year after his split from Reebok, Wall has become of the one of the faces of Adidas and said last week that he will have a signature shoe line, complete with a personal logo, released in October. During his time in Las Vegas, Wall got to break in his new sneakers and even put on some of his personal shorts and shirts after removing his Nike-produced USA Basketball gear.
“It’s pretty exciting and fun to know you can have your own stuff,” Wall said last week in Las Vegas. “All the Adidas stuff I wear will probably have my logo on it, just like [fellow Adidas endorser] Derrick [Rose] will wear everything that’s got D-Rose on it. Makes it fun.”
Wall signed a five-year, $25 million deal with Reebok before he was drafted by the Wizards, but that relationship came to an end in the third year. With Wall’s career stalled by injury and an unstable Wizards roster, the partnership with Reebok soured and he moved over to Adidas – which owns Reebok – in January 2013. The move took Wall from being the foundation of one brand into a situation where he had to prove his worth as a player to a company that already had a stable of established all-stars.
“Reebok was kind of a tough situation because they was trying to get back going and be relevant in this basketball business. I think if any other guy would’ve gone No. 1 [in 2010], they would’ve tried to push it, if it was a guard,” he said. “And that’s how it was in that situation. And I was the guy who was No. 1 at the time, so it worked out. They know what they want to do. I could’ve signed with Adidas [coming out of Kentucky] and they said, ‘Go with them and see how it goes.’ And it didn’t work out. I just switched over.”
After returning from missing the first 33 games of his third season with a stress injury in his left knee, Wall knew he couldn’t move up Adidas’ hierarchy and have his own shoe simply because he was a former No. 1 overall pick. Adidas wanted to see what he could do.
“It wasn’t planned at all,” Wall said of his signature shoe line, “because they didn’t know I was going to produce, coming off my injury for one. And then they were like, ‘We can’t put no money into a guy that ain’t going to be playing.’ And things like that. They were going through a tough time with Derrick being injured and they invested a lot of time in him and the other guys around Adidas are happy to have him back playing. But how the season went along and I played big, had a 47-point game. And going into the next season I had the Crazy Quick 2. I started wearing and they were, ‘Well, we think it’s time you start building you marketing-wise.’ ”
Adidas decided to put Wall in a ‘Quick Ain’t Fair” campaign with Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday and rapper A$AP Rocky. Wall then went on a tour through China with Lillard and Mike Conley last summer. Wearing the Crazy Quicks last season, Wall had the best season of his professional career as he earned his first all-star appearance and led the Wizards to their first playoff victory since 2005.
“It’s different. It’s a great opportunity to come in and try to prove myself,” Wall said. “I just think I’m doing a great job of getting my career going the way I want it to be. And I just don’t have to deal with injuries no more.”
Wall had more input in his new shoe design than he had with his first Reebok shoe. When he sat down with Adidas designers, Wall said he wanted to make sure that the shoe would be a lifestyle brand that came in different colors. “I definitely wanted them to be light. I wanted them to be midcut. I wanted them to be able to come in all different type of colors, like you see [Kevin Durant], LeBron [James] got wild colors you can wear off the court. I’d like to wear my shoe on and off the court, so having my own colorways, I can wear them with jeans and I just wanted to be creative with it and come out with different designs. I think it’s the colors that make the shoes. You got to be able to have different colors to make the shoe hot.”
To Wall, having Adidas reward him with his own shoe and a logo – a design centered around his initials, JW – represents how far his career has rebounded from its rocky beginning. “It’s great, a dream come true. My second one, I can say, but like, my real one,” Wall said. “It means a lot.”