John Wall has a big fan in New England.
When Wall arrived at Capital One Arena on Monday night, there was a surprise waiting for him on the swivel chair in front of his corner locker. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sent over an autographed copy of his best-selling book, “The TB12 Method: How To Achieve A Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.” And inside the hardcover, there was a personal message from Brady to Wall: “To John, Incredible Player!”
Understand that Wall is not a gusher. He plays it cool. Through his Washington Wizards’ career, those fluid Dougie dance moves have been replaced with icy snarls as Wall has developed a more coldblooded resolve. But receiving an autographed book from a five-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Super Bowl MVP brought out the giddy in Wall — by his standards.
“That’s the G.O.A.T.” Wall told a team public relations staffer before the game, referring to Brady as the “Greatest Of All Time.”
Then, Wall went out to face the Sacramento Kings and shot the ball like a G.O.A.T. During the Wizards’ 110-92 win, Wall hit 8 of 9 from the floor, including a perfect 4-of-4 from the three-point arc. In less than 28 minutes, Wall scored 21 points, added nine assists and led the Wizards with a plus-23 rating. The season series with Sacramento is complete, but Wall might want to keep playing the Kings: in the two matchups, he hit 9 of 10 from three. In the other 11 games, Wall has not found his long-range shooting rhythm, making just 15.6 percent from deep.
“I think I’m taking the same exact shots,” he said. “I’m just making them against them for some reason. Everybody else I be: ‘Clank’.”
The opponent certainly helped, and who knows if the gift from Brady provided a boost, as well. Remember, Wall doesn’t gush. But he does share his admiration for elite athletes.
On Sunday, Wall and the other resident Dallas Cowboys fan in the Wizards’ locker room, Markieff Morris, stole away to Atlanta to watch their favorite team in action. Even an ardent Cowboys backer like Morris seemed impressed with Wall receiving a signed book from Brady.
“He did?” Morris said. “I need one of them.”
Following the game, Wall shared of his reaction in walking into the locker room and realizing that Brady had personally reached out.
“It was surprising to me,” Wall said.
Wall had never met Brady. Not even at a superstar event like the ESPYs. The two don’t exchange texts. However, Wall plans to reciprocate and develop the relationship.
“It’s an honor to me to get a book from Tom Brady,” Wall said. “I’m definitely going to send him a jersey ASAP and hopefully I can get one in return.”
Before Monday, the two players’ names had been linked since Wizards’ media day when Wall mentioned how support from Brady and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, would help the cause behind protests in the NFL during the playing of the national anthem. Wall’s point: if two of the most prominent NFL stars, who happen to be white, spoke out about more social problems, then others would follow, just as the NBA has followed the lead of top players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.
Although it’s unclear if Brady had heard the comments, Wall stands by his previous message.
“It doesn’t change. I think he knows how powerful he is. I think he’s the face of the league, 40 years old and still doing what he does. Won multiple championships and is the G.O.A.T. of quarterbacks and the G.O.A.T. of the NFL,” Wall said. “It wasn’t no shade toward him. Same thing I said when LeBron and Kobe and those guys are the face of the league or the main superstars. When you come out and start speaking about the social issues that we’re having or the things going on in the world, I think everybody takes notice.
“When LeBron and D-Wade and Carmelo did the ESPYs, the whole league started to take notice,” Wall added, then snapped his fingers to signify the flood of support from other athletes. “You see everybody starting to take notice. You see everybody posting videos and making these fundraiser things for the community and I think that’s key. They already do so much in the community. They’re powerful icons. I think when Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers and those guys come out and speak, the rest of the NFL will take [notice].”
Wall said he had already cracked open the 320-page book and now hopes to meet its author when the Wizards play the Celtics in Boston on Christmas Day.
“I heard he can’t go to games in Boston because they don’t let him [be] . . . they don’t stop cheering his name,” Wall said, “But hopefully he can be there on Christmas.”
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