Goodbyes are rarely easy, but it seems to have been especially tough for John Wall.
In an era when players change teams more often than ever before, only Udonis Haslem (17 seasons with the Heat) and Stephen Curry (11 seasons with the Warriors) have spent their entire career on one team longer than Wall, a 10-year veteran with the Wizards. But that’s all set to change as Wall was traded to the Rockets on Wednesday, along with a 2023 first-round pick in exchange for former MVP Russell Westbrook.
“Where do I even begin?” Wall wrote in a message to Wizards fans on Twitter. “Ten years is a long time to think back on. I came to DC as a skinny 19 year old with big dreams and goals. You embraced me and my family with open arms. You rocked with me from day 1 until now.”
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Wall referenced the good times during his years in D.C.; he brought the city its most thrilling basketball moment of the decade with his game-winning 3-pointer to stave off elimination and beat the Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Wall also referenced the tough times: He hasn’t played in a game since Dec. 26, 2018, nearly two full years. He missed the rest of the 2018-19 season with a heel injury, and then missed the entire 2019-20 season after suffering a torn achilles when he slipped and fell in his home.
“I always felt the love from you,” Wall wrote to Wizards fans. “I appreciate you and will always have love for D.C.”
It’s important to remember that Wall was more than just a basketball player to the D.C. community. His foundation raised $300,000 to help residents in D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods afford rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. And he continued to invest his time and money into the area right up until the end, spending his Thanksgiving week handing out free meals and grocery gift cards.
“I may not wear the jersey anymore but I will never forget what it meant to represent for y’all. This isn’t the way I thought I would say goodbye to this city so I won’t. . . I will say, ‘thank you.'”