Leonsis on Wall: 'He's all about basketball'

Leonsis on Wall: 'He's all about basketball'
August 18, 2013, 12:30 pm
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What is the Wizards biggest issue heading into training camp?

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) brings the ball down court against Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) during the second quarter at the Verizon Center.

(Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports)

Much has been made of John Wall's busy summer - and we're not talking about flying back to D.C. to sign his maximum contract extension. It's likely that some out there are concerned that the highly paid point guard focuses more on making commercials and being seen than working on his craft.

Ted Leonsis isn't one of them.

"John has a lot of charisma," the Wizards owner said when asked about Wall's offseason choices following the contract announcement earlier this month. "The one thing I'll say is John is not a - it doesn't get to his head. John is about basketball. To me that's really, really important. Every player in this league is athletically gifted. The delta between being really good and great is hard work. It's not just hard work in the offseason, it's how you practice, the film that you watch and are you all about basketball.

"John is really in that sweet spot right now where he's all about basketball."

While they might not run in the same circles, the point guard and owner find themselves with interesting social and business opportunities. Not that they discuss such matters.

"He doesn't talk to me about anything but basketball," Leonsis said. "That's different than my experience where someone might be asking me ' where are you vacationing' or 'what did you do when you went here' and 'let me see your watch'. He's about basketball."

Statistically speaking, Wall was in the sweet spot down the stretch last season as the Wizards played near .500 basketball with him in the lineup after a 5-28 start. From March 1 on, he averaged 22.7 points, 7.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals, numbers only LeBron James and Kobe Bryant matched or exceeded among all NBA players.

Wall's career averages through three seasons put him in company with historic figures Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson, plus contemporary foe Chris Paul. Being aware of the NBA's past isn't just about looking up a list of league leaders or previous champions. in this area, Wall also excels.

"That's so important to me that he knows history all the way down," said the 56-year-old Leonsis. "There was a picture of Earl Monroe. I asked if he'd ever seen Earl play. The only way you would have seen Earl play is if you're my age or went to watch (on video). "

Leonsis recalled how Wall immediately demonstrated the spin move Monroe used to shred defenders during his starry career which included a stretch with the Baltimore Bullets. "'Of course I know Earl Monroe is,' Wall told Leonsis before rattling off other biographic details.

"Being a student of the game to me for your point guard is really, really important," Leonsis said.

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