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NBA All-Star Weekend: Wizards' John Wall gets his first taste of all-star festivities

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 19, 2011; 2:00 AM

LOS ANGELES - John Wall couldn't travel 2,300 miles without doing it - not when he made his informal introduction to the NBA by bopping, dipping and flailing his arms about, and especially not when the league invited the rap group Cali Swag District to perform its hit single, "Teach Me How To Dougie," at halftime of the Rookie Challenge on Friday during All-Star Weekend.

On the night he arrived in the city where he trained before the Washington Wizards drafted him No. 1 overall, Wall was presented a challenge by Orlando Magic all-star center Dwight Howard at the celebrity pool tournament hosted by Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. Howard dared anyone to get on the stage and show who could do the best rendition of the popular dance, the Dougie.

Boston Celtics reserve Glen "Big Baby" Davis joined Wall and several others in a Dougie dance-off, and Wall was fairly confident about who came away the winner.

"I think I did," Wall said, having already learned from his Dougie battle with R&B singer Chris Brown at a New Year's Eve party.

Wall said he's "not really a party guy," but it is really difficult for someone to attend NBA all-star festivities without getting caught up in some of the ancillary pleasures.

Still, Wall had plenty of energy left for Friday night's Rookie Challenge, as he scored 12 points, racked up 22 assists - breaking Chris Paul's record of 17 in the event - did the Dougie three times and was named most valuable player of his team's 148-140 win over the sophomores.

In addition to becoming the eighth player in franchise history - and first since Jarvis Hayes in 2004 - to represent the Wizards in the annual showcase of up-and-coming talent, Wall was voted to compete in the Skills Challenge on Saturday against Paul of New Orleans, Chicago's Derrick Rose, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Golden State's Stephen Curry. Teammate JaVale McGee also asked Wall to assist him in the slam-dunk contest.

Wall had a busy week planned, but he admitted he needed this experience after having to endure a difficult rookie campaign in which he has played through a series of nagging injuries to his foot and knees, and his team lost its first 25 road games. Wall plans to take advantage of being around the world's best players, meeting celebrities and hanging around former Kentucky teammates DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe once again.

"It's like a vacation," Wall said. "It's a big relief, also at the same time, you're trying to produce, get better and enjoy your time here. Win or lose, no matter what I'm going to be here to have fun and have a little break."

Wall returned to Washington after the Wizards ended the first half of the season with a blowout loss in Orlando, then quickly turned around and caught a flight for what he hopes will be the first of many All-Star Weekends. He slept on the plane, checked into his hotel, changed clothes and made the rounds through the NBA Entertainment Circuit, sitting down for a radio and television interviews, taking photographs, filming promotional videos and later sitting down to do a rookie roundtable for NBA TV with Los Angeles Clippers all-star forward Blake Griffin, New York Knicks guard Landry Fields and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Wes Johnson.

During the roundtable, Wall revealed some interesting details about his rookie season. He said he felt like he had arrived when he recorded a triple-double against Philadelphia in his "Dougie"-inspired home opener. After Griffin talked about how he had to get Krispy Kreme donuts for this teammates every morning, Wall said he has yet to receive any sort of rookie hazing. After Fields talked about how he has a hard time sleeping on planes, Wall said, "You can't? It's over for me. I sleep too much."

And, he also talked about the nerves he felt when he made his NBA debut against Howard and the Magic on TNT.

"I think I almost used the bathroom on myself," Wall said with a laugh.

Wall had met Griffin once before, when Wall was in Los Angeles for a college basketball player of the year awards ceremony, but he enjoyed his extended time with Griffin, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009 who has recovered from missing all of last season because of a fractured left patella to become a highlight staple. Wall joked that he might have a good game and think it would be a topic of discussion on "SportsCenter" only to watch Griffin dunking on someone over and over again.

Wall said one of his goals entering this season was to win rookie of the year but realizes Griffin probably has that secured.

"The way he's playing and me being out with a couple of nagging injuries, it's kind of like he has the lead right now," Wall said. "He deserves it, the way he's playing, his team is winning games, he's bringing excitement to L.A. He's a talented player, every time you turn on the TV, you're going to see something spectacular from him."

Before the Rookie Challenge, Wall said he wanted to throw the ball up to see Griffin get it. He did it twice in the first half and Griffin dunked. But the duo brought down Staples Center in the second half, when Wall bounced the ball hard off the court, and watched it soar into Griffin's hands before he dunked with two hands. Wall celebrated - how else? - by doing the Dougie as he ran down the court. He later slapped hands with and hugged Griffin.

Earlier in the day, before the rookies practiced, Wall reunited with Cousins and Bledsoe. The trio of close friends sat in the back, cracking jokes with each other as if they were back in Lexington, Ky.

"Since we got here, we've been hanging out like old times," Wall said, adding that the players' mothers also spent time with each other in Los Angeles. "When the season is over, we're going to be at it again. They are like brothers to me. We always like to make each other laugh. We knew when we have to be serious, but we also know how to have fun."

He has no choice this weekend.

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