WASHINGTON — There was a debate for years: Bryce Harper? Max Scherzer? Alex Ovechkin? Kirk Cousins?
It’s the only answer that makes sense anymore.
Harper is constantly tied to rumors to leave town for a record-breaking contract. Scherzer has only been in Washington for less than three years, and he’d come in having already won a Cy Young Award. Ovechkin has as strong of a claim as anybody, but after once again falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs, there’s talk of Ovechkin being shipped out of town. Cousins? Well, let’s be real. Half the city is still clamoring for Robert Griffin III and the Redskins can’t seem to figure out how to sign him to a long-term deal.
Wall, however, has been in D.C. his whole career. He signed an extension when his first contract was up, and there’s little reason to think he won’t do the same when his second contract is up. He’s also a 4-time All-Star who is perennially among the league leaders in assists (2nd this season) and steals (1st this season), and his scoring jumped up a notch this year (18th this season).
What’s more, and this might be the most important aspect of all, Wall tells you it’s his city. He wants it. He wants the team built around him, and he wants to revel in all the city’s glory and despair.
And he’s willing to fight for it.
Here is the quintessential John Wall highlight: Down by two, season on the line, less than 10 seconds remaining, the ball in Wall’s hands — and he drills a long 3 to give the Wizards the win.
Not bad for a guy who is frequently criticized for his 3-point shooting.
A crucial defensive possession was still necessary for the Wizards, who forced Isaiah Thomas into a tough 3 that barely missed, and the win was sealed. The series heads back to Boston for Game 7.
That shot was the culmination of a bizarre game for Wall and the Wizards. Wall had just three points on 1-for-9 shooting at halftime, but he flipped a switch and put up 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting in the second half, adding two assists and two blocks in the process.
Aside from Wall, only Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris scored for Washington in the second half, taking a combined 42 shots — the rest of the team was a combined 0-for-4. The Wizards had just seven assists on their 20 field goals after halftime, compared to Boston’s 15 assists on 18 makes.
But forget all that. Let’s go back to that shot, and what John Wall did after the win was clinched.
He ran to the scorer’s table, screamed to the crowd, and he let everybody around know it’s his city. He reaffirmed as much in the postgame interview.
This is John Wall’s city. I’d apologize to Bryce Harper, but it seems he already knows.
Even Robert Griffin III knows, it would appear.
And now, the rest of the world:
This is John Wall’s city. We’re all just living in it.