Those who know John Wall best noticed that he wasn’t right.
The day before Thanksgiving when the Washington Wizards played in Charlotte, essentially a homecoming for Wall who was born and raised in Raleigh, N.C., friends and family came to cheer him on. Though the former University of Kentucky star looked dynamic in playing 41 minutes and scoring 31 points on 13-for-26 shooting, a performance Coach Scott Brooks would later describe as his best of the season, his allies detected something strange.
“A couple of my friends that [were] there watching the game and my agent said ‘Hey, you were limping throughout the game,’” Wall recalled. “But I didn’t notice it. The adrenaline and emotion going through the game … playing back home in front of my family.”
On Friday morning inside Capital One Arena, Wall spoke to reporters for the first time since receiving platelet-rich plasma and viscosupplementation injections to reduce inflammation in his left knee and revealed how the Nov. 22 game served as a tipping point. Though Wall had experienced swelling off and on since Nov. 7, and even missed a game due to the soreness, he tried to brush aside the problematic knee.
“The shoulder was there, but I was able to play through ankle sprains,” Wall said, checking off his previously reported injuries. “It’s a part of the season. Nobody is always going to be 100 percent healthy and I’m the type of guy that likes to play through pain.”
However following the loss to Charlotte, Wall said he could “barely walk” as the inflammation worsened. Wall underwent an MRI exam, the results showed no structural damage, and consulted with the team doctor as well as the surgeon who performed surgery on his left knee in May 2016. Last Saturday, Wall received the injections and the team announced he would miss approximately two weeks.
“I tried to get through it as much as I could but then you have to take care of it and think of the long term instead of the short term,” Wall said about the decision to rest. “It’s me thinking I also have a lot of career left in me. … I’ve proved my point now, so me missing a little bit of time ain’t going to do too much.”
While Wall continues with a “boring” daily routine consisting of seven hours of treatment, the Wizards (11-10) are trying to find balance without him. In the three games played without Wall, Washington has lost twice while depending greatly on reserve players since the starters have struggled. On Friday night, Washington hosts Detroit (14-6, second in the Eastern Conference) before preparing for a five-game road trip that swings through the Western Conference.