John Wall is having the best season of his career. He is leading the league in assists and assists-per-game,is top five in double-doubles and will be a starter in this weekend’s All-Star game. And although the Wizards hope to replicate and surpass their playoff run from last season, the game that Wall’s legacy might be most connected to this season is the Miyah game.
In March 2013, Wall met Miyah Telemaque-Nelson, a 6 year-old recently diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma and hoping to meet her favorite rapper Nicki Minaj. Wall and Nelson became close, even after Miyah got to meet Minaj, they communicated frequently and Wall wrote her name on his sneakers for the entire season.
Just before playing the Boston Celtics on December 8th, Wall received a text message that Miyah Nelson had passed away. Often athletes are praised for their performance in the face of adversity, as we assume that through the sport they are provided the outlet for overwhelming emotion. But what the Miyah game showed about Wall’s vulnerability to be in the moment. His competitive nature kept his fight, but Wall struggled throughout the game. The Wizards only scraped together 9 fast break points, with Wall being one of the fastest players in the league, Wall also gave up 9 turnovers himself and defensively was unable to contain Marcus Smart with a career high 23 points. With aspects of his game falling apart, Wall put his assists together and had a career high 17. |
After the game Wall broke down in tears trying to describe what the game meant to him.
John Wall’s emotional release was a railroad spike eight feet deep in the ground for his fans. It signified no matter how his performance was each night, he now had a group of fans, locally and nationally, ready to dig deep into the earth to erase his presence from their hearts.
As the NBA shifts gears into its expensive spring break known as All Star Weekend, I’m going to enjoy watching John Wall play with the starters. I’m happy to watch the Wizards struggle their way into the playoffs for another year. I’m happy to watch John Wall continue to rise and shine to the daily games. But for this season, the last moment will be Wall in tears, a final burst of the taught string of his emotions the day his friend died.