PORTLAND, Ore. – The line outside Compound Gallery in the Old Town Chinatown section of Portland wrapped around like the letter L down NW Couch Street and up SW Sixth Avenue, with fans seeking autographs from all-stars and fellow Adidas endorsers John Wall of the Wizards and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
“It makes me and Dame feel like we’re big time,” Wall said on Wednesday before signing autographs for about two hours at the headquarters for the area’s sneakerheads.
In Portland for his only visit, Wall teamed up with Lillard to promote the release of Adidas’ Floral City Collection of socks, hats, sweatshirts and shoes that feature the accompanying floral pattern and colors to recognize Washington’s Cherry Blossom Festival, which begins Thursday, and Portland’s Rose festival, which starts in two months.
With hip-hop music blaring, Wall and Lillard sat in a small corner on the second level of the store, a stuffy room cooled only by a portable floor fan. Wall wore a Washington Bullets baseball cap with a cherry blossom-patterned bill.
“I like the Bullets hats. I like wearing them. I just think they have more style, more flavor,” Wall said. “The Wizards logo is cool. I like all that, but I wish we could go back to these – but I know we’re never going back. One time in my career, I would like to wear some throwback jerseys, just one time, one time. I want to wear it one time. I know it’s tough, but it’d be cool.”
The NBA would also have to give special approval for Wall wear the silver and pink Adidas Crazy Ones that he donned during the autograph session. “I hope the league give me a pass one time to wear them,” Wall said. “I like the colorway and I when I went out there and tried them for the dunk contest, I thought they was going to be heavy shoes, but they are very light shoes.”
Wall has never participated in any events involving the Cherry Blossom festival but understands its significance in his adopted home. When Adidas mentioned its plans for the cherry blossom gear, Wall said he was all for it.
“When they had an opportunity to bring a shoe there, it was big for me and big for the city of DC. I think a lot of people were excited,” Wall said. “Everything I do is for the city of DC. I want to bring excitement back. I want to win a championship. I want to do a lot of things. And we’ve got a good opportunity to be in the playoffs this season, if we keep playing the right way. We have not solidified no spot or anything yet.”
Wall will go head-to-head with Lillard on Thursday at Moda Center and attempt to put behind Tuesday’s ugly 117-111 overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings. In that defeat, the Wizards blew a five-point lead with 24 seconds left and Wall missed two free throws that could’ve secured the win in regulation. The Wizards have won three straight games over the Trail Blazers, including a 100-90 victory at Verizon Center in which Wall had 22 points and Lillard scored a game-high 25 points.
“We’re very cool. We had an opportunity over the summer to become cool, but we’ve got a competitive nature,” Wall said. “We don’t back down for nobody. We say our couple of words – ‘good luck’ – and then act like we don’t know each other the whole 48 minutes during the game. That’s how it should be when you’re competing.”
Wall switched from Reebok to Adidas before coming back stress injury in his left knee last year and became friends with Lillard during a tour through China, where the two 23-year-old guards discussed making the leap in the upcoming season. Both players were named all-star reserves in New Orleans and have their teams back in playoff contention.
“We all pushed ourselves and that was our goal,” Wall said. “Just having another talented point guard like him that believe in your game and give you the respect that you deserve, I respect him the same. It’s great we can come here with our Adidas family and have the opportunity to put on an event like this, and have a lot of people come out and support us.”