That John Wall would be a first-time All-Star comes as no surprise given that he has been the best -- and most healthy -- point guard in the Eastern Conference. He's averaging career-highs in several categories for the Wizards (22-23), accounts from more than 40% of the offense and has them on the cusp of their first winning record this late in a season since 2008.
Wall was chosen as a reserve by NBA coaches for the Feb. 14-16 showcase in New Orleansn. He talked with Wizards Insider J. Michael of CSN Washington via phone Thursday night, after returning to D.C. earlier in the day from a four-game West coast trip:
So walk me through how you got the news of your selection. You expected this, but when it finally happened it must've been shock nonetheless?
We landed. At about 6:30 or 6:40 (p.m. ET) I found out. They just wanted to wait until they put it on TV and stuff. My agent (Dan Fegan) let me know. Coming where I came from, and the tough times I dealt with the first couple years in the league, dealing with injuries last year it shows the commitment, the hard work and dedication to the city of D.C. It feels surreal to me right now. I still don't believe it right now. It's a big accomplishment for me, my teammates and coaching staff. Now I get back focused and prepare myself for the game on Saturday (vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, CSN, 7).
What was the first thing you did after you put down the phone?
I called my mom and said, 'We made it.' We made another step in life. It's one of my goals I set for myself when I made it to the NBA. I'm glad I accomplished it.
Don't lie, were there tears?
I was close to tears, to be honest. Getting in front of my teammates and stuff, talking to those guys tomorrow, I might have a couple of tears. I appreciate those guys for believing in me, having faith in me being their point guard and leader. Most of those guys text me and called me and said, 'Congratulations.' I know I have a great team behind me and supporting me.
When you signed the five-year, $80 million max extension in August, you were in tears then. This wasn't a similar feeling?
Yes, but it's different. I knew the organization and the city made a commitment. Having my mom and my Grandma and all those people there and the sacrifice they took, my family should be straight financially for the rest of our lives. Nothing can really compare to that but an NBA championship.
How did you celebrate, or is there time especially given your upcoming schedule of the Thunder, Blazers and Spurs in the next six days?
I'm back focused. I'm enjoying it as we speak. I'm with a couple of my homeboys watching the Cavs vs. Knicks game but I'll be in the gym early tomorrow getting my work in, preparing myself for another tough game on Saturday. There's no celebration really until that weekend because I'm focused on my main goal and that's helping get this team to the playoffs.
What has been the lowest point for you in such an up-and-down season?
The beginning of the season, especially the way we started. I don't think I was playing the way I should've been to help my team. When we had that talk and Trevor Ariza had the (players-only) team meeting, they basically asked me to come out and what I think everybody's role was and how I felt about it. I was just being honest and trying to be a leader. It's tough for a guy like me going into his fourth year having a lot of veterans like that, guys like Al Harrington, Nene, Trevor Ariza and Martell (Webster) really helped me become a better leader and feel more comfortable around the team.
So you were still uncomfortable handling that responsibility?
Yes. I think so. I'm the one that always led by example on the basketball court. I let my game do the talking but as talking, I didn't know how to talk to guys. I had to learn how to talk to certain guys on and off the court so they can respond in the right manner and the right way.
In a way you've made it, but you've still got a long way to go, right?
It's nowhere near the end. It's just the beginning of the John Wall era. I appreciate my fans, the people that voted for me, my teammates. I just want to keep improving and keep getting better as a basketball player. My main goal for this season was to be in the playoffs. If I made All-Star, that would be a great accomplishment for myself but I'm more of a team guy first.
What are you looking forward to doing most when you get to New Orleans besides the actual game?
I have no idea. It'll probably be like playing in the rookie-sophomore game. I'm going for a reason to play on a big Sunday night with a lot of people there. There's nothing more you can ask for.
You probably should be starting over Kyrie Irving. Any chance you'll try to outdo him, even though you're teammates, because in an All-Star Game that's what people want to see anyway?
I know people think that. I don't know what to expect or know how it go. You go out and have fun and enjoy yourself. I know in the fourth quarter it gets competitive and you try to win the game.
Have you been asked by the league to participate in the dunk or skills contest on Saturday before the game itself?
Yes, both I'll make decisions tomorrow or sometime next week. They have asked me. I'm not sure. I don't know what I'll do yet. I'm shocked after the news I got tonight so I can't even tell you.
Back to team goals: Are you confident enough in the Wizards to guarantee you guys will get over .500 at some point this season?
I'll go that far. We're due for a streak. We're taking the right steps. We'll get over .500 and that's what I say and stand by.