CHARLOTTE, N.C. – John Wall was standing against the scorer’s table, preparing to check back in when he saw Jan Vesely swipe a pass from Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions near the three-point line. Vesely took a few dribbles across half court, made an explosive step just above the foul line, then took another step just inside it before taking flight.
“He’s about to jump from the free throw line,” Wall said he told himself, “and I’m thinking ‘Oh, snap, he might not make it.’ “
Perhaps inspired by the presence of Michael Jordan at Time Warner Cable Arena, Vesely came within a few feet of matching the iconic foul line jam that helped the Bobcats owner win the slam dunk contest in 1988. With his long arms, the 7-foot Vesely made the in-game dunk look so easy and effortless that only those paying attention to his take-off point could appreciate the landing.
A stunned Wall certainly did. Vesely noticed Wall’s surprised reaction as he ran back on defense.
“He winked at me like, ‘I got that in me,’ ” Wall said of Vesely, who had six points, six rebounds, three blocked shots in the Wizards’ 97-83 victory over the Bobcats.
The Wizards are well aware of Vesely’s vast array of dunks because the Czech Republic native has rarely been shy about showing off or testing his material during and after practice.
“I know he’s capable of doing some sick stuff. I stay with him after practice. We stay with each other a lot and I know he can do,” Marcin Gortat said. “He’s a black man in a white body. He can jump out the gym. You never see a white man jump like that.”
When told of Gortat’s comment, Martell Webster paused for a moment to process it.
“You know, Jan. Jan, I love the kid,” Webster said. “But he’s nowhere near black. At all! Have you heard his music? I think the tempo is, on average, 170 beats per minute. I don’t see it guys. I don’t see it.”
Vesely, however, is doing his best to make sure that Coach Randy Wittman sees that he can help the Wizards if given the chance. His performance against the Bobcats came on the heels of contributing eight points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in a blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Wittman used Vesely against Golden State after getting limited production from elsewhere. By helping the Wizards reduce a 25-point deficit to 11, Vesely got some meaningful playing time in a game his team needed to snap a three-game losing streak.
“Jan, I thought came in and gave us some good minutes again,” Wittman said.
Vesely has had to get accustomed to Wittman’s revolving door rotation. After helping the Wizards defeat the New York Knicks on Dec. 16, Vesely didn’t appear in the next two games against Brooklyn and Boston. He failed to play more than 10 minutes in any of his four games.
“I just stay ready all the time. I just try to stay focused and do my thing. Play hard and give hustle plays,” Vesely said. “I know it’s hard. You never know when your chance is going to come…but you have to stay focused and ready and when the chance comes, I use it. Coaches tell me to stay ready and that’s it. I have fun.”
But Wall was hoping that Vesely would’ve had more fun on his highlight jam. “I thought he was going to do a one-leg windmill,” Wall said. “He got so much in the arsenal, he just don’t try them in the game.”
Wall was ready to side with Gortat’s assessment of Vesely’s athleticism, though. He smiled and said, “I’m going to think about that.”