That John Wall didn't get voted in as an All-Star starter Thursday night came as no shock. He spoke after practice about it three days ago, when he said he cared more about NBA coaches, who'll vote on the seven reserves to be named for each conference next week, and the Wizards point guard even was humble enough to make a surprising admission that you almost never hear from a pro athlete: Most of the negative things said and written about him and his game were true.
First, however, what he thinks about fan voting compared to coaches.
"It lets me know the coaches respect how I've been improving this year and how I'm helping out my team as much as possible and trying to be a better leader," said Wall, who has the Wizards at 20-21 entering Friday's game at the Phoenix Suns (CSN+, 9 p.m. ET). "You like fan votes because it lets you know how popular you are in the world. The coaches, that means a lot more because those are the ones that respect you and they've got to change game plans. They determine how they're going to guard you on a night-to-night basis
"I'll just have to sit back and wait till the coaches make a decision. Basically, how the fans vote, you know how that is. It's part of the game."
Despite Wednesday's 113-111 overtime loss to the Boston Celtics, when Wall came under fire from coach Randy Wittman for taking too many shots (29), the fourth-year player has been solid with career highs of 20.2 points and 8.5 assists and probably is more deserving than Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who was voted as the starter. Detroit Pistons coach Mo Cheeks, an NBA champion point guard himself, talked to Wall recently about the growth he has witnessed.
"He told me especially since when he was in OKC, 'You know how to change pace and knock down shots. It makes your game a lot easier,'" Wall said Cheeks, who was an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder until this season. "That's what I've been hearing from a lot of coaches. That's what my coaching staff told me. That's something I wanted to learn. It took me a lot more time trying to get healthy then trying to (figure) how I can fit my game into the system and stuff. Just keeping working, being able to knock down jump shots, watching film, changing pace helps my game out a lot."
Of course, Wall signed a five-year, $80 million max extension in the offseason. The success he's had has been expected, at least by Wall. The All-Star Game is Feb. 16 in New Orleans.
"I felt like I could've had this season last season to be honest. That's how confident I felt in the hard work I put in throughout the summer and fully having the whole summer. I was healthy and watching a lot of film, building on my training and knowing what I have to get better at. But then I was diagnosed with a knee injury," said Wall, who played just 49 games in 2012-13. "That was the toughest part, rebuilding and coming back from that. I just did the same thing I did of trying to get better, knocking down jump shots, watching film and going out there and having confidence. If you have confidence I feel like you can do anything in this league.
"I liked it. That's why I wanted to get it done," Wall said of the pressure that came with the extension. "I knew if I get it done then everybody going to say, 'Well he's not worth it.' And you just go out there and prove people wrong."
And Wall still keeps notes and clippings of all the critical things that are said and written about him since he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2010. This season, the stack has been smaller.
"I got it still in my locker. I really don't have that much this year but the last couple years three years before I got a lot of notes. It's just motivation," he said. "It's nothing. I'm not going to be mad at anybody. It's nothing I can go back and say because 80 percent of the time what they were saying, it may be true what I needed to work on to get better. Now they're seeing what I'm capable of doing and I got to get better day by day."