Watching another young player from Kentucky go number one in the 2015 NBA draft, John Wall sees how far he’s come. He also sees how far he still has left to go. Being selected number one in the 2010 NBA draft, becoming the floor general of one of the most exciting teams in the league and carrying the hoop dreams of an entire city on his back could have been too much for such a young player to handle, but Wall manages the load with skill, grace and humility. That combination of attributes has given the Washington Wizards organization a champion the likes of which they haven’t seen in years. Wall has managed to transform the Wizards from an oft-forgotten NBA franchise, usually wallowing towards the bottom of the standings, into a serious threat in the East. In the company of championship franchises like the Heat, Spurs, Lakers, and Celtics, the Wizards are finally a force to be reckoned with.
In the 2015 season, Wall led his team into what could have been a deep run into the NBA playoffs. Sadly, a wrist injury caused the star player to miss three crucial games in a second round series. His Wizards would eventually lose to the Atlanta Hawks, but the early exit hasn’t dampened the point guard’s attitude. “Even with my injuries, I enjoyed this season.”
More importantly, it hasn’t blunted his confidence. He still has his sights set sky-high. “I want to be Most Valuable Player of the league and win an NBA title.” Wall rattles off his list of goals as if they were simply future events just waiting to happen.
All that matter-of-fact confidence isn’t misplaced. The young guard, 24, has already accomplished an incredible amount in his short NBA career. Along with being chosen as the number one draft pick, he’s already a two-time All-Star, and was named to NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2015.
As intimidating as Wall is on the court, the NBA star is extremely open and approachable without a basketball in his hands. He credits his fantastic attitude to surrounding himself with great people; people that have helped him grow into something bigger and brighter. Even in the midst of basketball superstardom, Wall still rolls with the crew that steered him away from trouble back in high school. In fact, that same group of guys was hanging out with him the night of this year’s draft. Wall has also made sure to keep his family extremely close. “I have my mom, my sisters, and a great group of guys that care for me and won’t let me do wrong. They’re not all ‘yes’ men, but those guys make everything a lot easier for me,” says Wall.
When talking about his friends and family, a powerful sense of gratitude hangs off of every word. Wall is deeply aware of the sacrifices that have been made for him. He understands that springing up from humble beginnings in Raleigh, North Carolina to becoming one of the most celebrated point guards in the NBA was not the achievement of one man, but a group effort. Now, he wants to give back to those around him. “Everything I do is because I love the game of basketball, and to help take care for my mom the way she cared for me,” says Wall.
A student of basketball, he is also learning to enjoy and appreciate the finer things in life. Being one of the brightest players in the NBA has turned Wall into a millionaire with the stroke of a pen, but attaining that kind of wealth so quickly hasn’t diminished his sense of taste. His collection of wristwatches shows a streak of maturity that is well beyond his years. “I don’t like them too flashy,” Wall says of his favorite luxury watches. “I think they complement and emphasize style. That’s the reason I really like them.”
Wall appreciates classic pieces, and finds those with too many diamonds in poor taste. “I don’t like my watches iced out. I prefer to keep things simple and elegant.” However, when discussion turned to his next buy, Richard Mille’s contemporary sports watches were first on his mind. “Sometimes you want to walk around and be casual. His watches are really exciting,” says Wall, who adds he will “definitely” get one.
Along with watches, Wall’s wealth has given him the ability to pick up other new passions. He already has an affinity for luxury cars, (his new Ferrari is the crown jewel in his collection) and the ever-studious NBA player now wants to learn about art.
“I want to get into it,” he says. “There are some great paintings out there, and I’ve already started thinking about where some might fit at home.” Already he has NBA jerseys from players such as Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant hanging at home. “To add some paintings would be amazing,” says Wall.
Wall also works hard to surround himself with worthy mentors whose experience he truly values. “I look to having older people, such as Swizz Beatz, as role models. I had the opportunity to meet and see how he makes business decisions, and I’m trying to learn as a young fella in the game, to be able to do the same thing.” Of course, NBA players also have an important impact on him. “I also look up to LeBron [James] a lot. He’s like an older brother. He knows a lot and has been a great help in my young career.”
Already, Wall is turning into a mentor of his own, setting up the John Wall Family Foundation to raise up urban youth through back to school programs, in Washington and back home, and by supporting local charities that fall in line with causes he has either had first hand experiences with or that he cares about. “I want to get that going now,” he says. “Start early.” As always, John Wall is ready to learn something new.