Kobe Bryant, shown driving against John Wall in 2014, wants to see the Wizards star step up his defensive game. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall’s latest source of motivation is a personal challenge from five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant.

To coincide with the release of his latest Nike shoe, Bryant issued #MambaMentality challenges to five celebrities via social media Thursday. The former Los Angeles Lakers star, who retired after the 2016 season, challenged NBA guard Isaiah Thomas to make the all-NBA first team . . . with the Cavaliers or Celtics next season, for whomever he plays. He challenged rapper Kendrick Lamar and his record label to revolutionize the music program at Centennial High School in Compton. Bryant also issued challenges to Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, sprinter Allyson Felix and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

On Sunday, Bryant responded to a couple of requests for challenges on Twitter, one from Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and another from the Wizards fan account @WizardsTalk, which asked for a challenge on behalf of Wall. Bryant challenged Antetokounmpo to win MVP and Wall to be named to the NBA all-defensive first team.

Twenty-five minutes later, Wall responded on Twitter: “Say no more!!”

Wall wasn’t named to the all-defensive first or second team last season despite leading the NBA in steals with 157 and leading all point guards in blocks with 49. His response to that snub?


Wall, who helped lead the Wizards to within one game of the Eastern Conference finals, wasn’t happy with “only” being named to the all-NBA third team, either.

“A guy averaged 23 and 11 and almost four or five rebounds, with two steals, and you are all-NBA third team,” Wall told Alex Kennedy on the HoopsHype podcast in June. “I know there’s a lot of great players in this league, and a lot of great guards, but all-NBA third team, that’s pretty shocking to me, and even the year before when I started the All-Star Game in New York, I remember I averaged like 19 and 11, or 10 that year, and still didn’t make all-NBA team. So I just use all those things as motivation and fuel.”

Bryant was named to the all-defensive first team nine times during his career. The Black Mamba was never known for his passing, but credit him with an assist if Wall adds that honor to his résumé next season.

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