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John Wall: It’s Gotta Be The Shoes

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When John Wall was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 NBA Draft out of Kentucky, the hope he brought to Washington, DC was limitless. Rookie of the Year? Perennial All-Star? MVPs? Best point guard in the league? Best point guard EVER? Championship Trophies and Rings?

Anything was possible. DC Basketball was finally headed back to the promised land, and John Wall was going to lead us there.

6 years later?

No Rookie of the Year Award. One All-Star start in 6 years. No MVPs. No “Best Point Guard in the League” Titles. One dunk contest trophy. No rings.

Something along the way just didn’t go quite right. Was it player development? Was it coaching? Was it management? Was it ownership? No one was ever quite sure. No one could ever put a finger on what was holding John Wall back, and what was needed to unleash his full potential.

Until now, until 2016.

Since the ball dropped at Times Square, John Wall has been dropping buckets, dropping dimes, dropping opponents, flashing highlights, spewing swagger, and throwing up triple doubles like never before. Why the sudden change?

“It’s gotta be the shoes.”

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THE HISTORY:

As a prospective top pick in the NBA Draft, John Wall had a variety of options for his first shoe deal. He chose, (possibly regretfully), to go with Reebok, for 5 years, and around 25 million dollars. His basketball game and his shoe game ended up mirroring each other. His performance on the court showed flashes for his first three years, but was ultimately disappointing. Wall didn’t make any All-Star teams, and injuries combined with inconsistent rosters and philosophies stunted his development. His shoes struggled as well, as his Reebok Zig technology based shoe line boasted bigger and better things, but simply never caught on.

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In 2013, Wall left Reebok (sort of), and was left to finish off his 5 year deal with Reebok’s parent company, Adidas. Things looked promising, as Adidas revamped Wall’s logo, and gave him a new signature shoe.

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Wall would go on to make two All-Star teams sporting his new Adidas footwear, including his first All-Star start in 2015. But though his game showed improvement, and Wall rose to become one of the top point guards in the NBA, his shoes did not follow suit. While Wall laced up his J Wall’s and J Wall 2’s, his counter parts with other companies were taking much larger branding and marketing steps. Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook got more impressive signature shoes. Under Armour gave Stephen Curry a fresh signature shoe, and made him the centerpiece of their entire basketball line moving forward.

It only got worse. Even within Adidas, Damian Lillard’s signature line surpassed Wall in both popularity, and priority. By the start of the 2015-2016 season, Lillard’s shoe had become it’s own Twitter phenomenon, with colors, themes, and varieties causing overnight lines at distributor’s throughout the country. Wall’s shoe could do nothing of the sort.

Finally, as the 2016 Times Square ball dropped, Adidas dropped the ball with John Wall. In a well documented business move, Wall fired agent Dan Fegan, and signed Rich Paul’s agency, Klutch Sports. You may have heard of them. No? They go by another name: “The guys that represent LeBron James.” The move occurred in early January, in the midst of extension talks with Adidas, talks that broke off soon afterward, and are not expected to resume.

What does this mean? John Wall is heading for unrestricted shoe free agency this summer, free to sign with any company he wants, as long as they want him in return. In the meantime, with no extension with Adidas, Wall is free to wear whatever shoes he chooses. And after dabbling a bit with Nike’s in mid-January and early February, his apparent choice was announced loud and clear at the All-Star game, when he brought out the French Blue Jordan XII’s.

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[Photo via @SoleCollector Twitter]

After his short Nike fling, Wall has broken out almost exclusively Jordan’s since breaking the ankle-strapped shackles of Adidas, and has provided breakout game after breakout game ever since. His footwear suggests Jordan is what Wall wants, and his play suggests he is Jordan worthy.

THE PERFORMANCE:

The All-Star Game marked Wall’s most brazen showing of his Jordan love, and his game flashed the type of flair worthy of the Jumpman. He provided highlight after highlight, with this dazzling pass shining most brightly:

Even the shots that didn’t count were dropping, evidenced by this #WallStar Special:

He finished the night with 22 points. But despite the stats and highlights, the only Wall related All-Star conversation you heard the next day went something like this:

“Did you see Wall’s shoes last night??”

“🔥🔥🔥”

“I know right! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥”

Rightfully so. And as long as Wall has been lacing up Jordan’s, he’s been on fire on the court.

Since the All-Star Break, Wall has averaged 21 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, and the Wizards are 12-7. He’s posted the following games, rockin’ the specified footwear:

  • 16 points – 11 assists – 12 rebounds on February 23rd, wearing these White/Navy Team Jordan II’s.

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  • 21-13-7 on February 28th against LeBron and the Cavs, wearing these Red Team Jordan II’s.

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  • 37-7-4 rebounds on February 29th, again wearing the White/Navy Team Jordan II’s.
  • 25-12-6 on March 5th against the Pacers, in these white XIII’s:

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  • 29-12-10 on March 16th against the Rival Bulls, in the French Blue XII’s.
  • 16-14-13 on March 17th, in the French Blue XII’s.
  • 27-14 on March 21st against a hot Hawks team, again in the French Blue XII’s.

He’s also been spotted recently in these scorching soles, the Air Jordan II’s, during the best streak of basketball of his career:

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A career 30% three-point shooter, Wall has shot a more impressive 34% since going to almost exclusively Jordan’s. He has tallied three triple-doubles since the move, after having just four through his entire career.

And it’s not just the numbers that are on the rise, it’s the flair:

There’s this, in the French Blue XII’s:

This in the Jordan XIII’s:

These in the White/Navy Team Jordan II’s:

And:

And this in the Red Team Jordan II’s.

That’s quite the resume for John Wall’s Team Jordan Application.

THE POLITICS:

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Here’s a list of Klutch Sport’s current NBA clients:

  • LeBron James
  • Eric Bledsoe
  • Trey Lyles
  • Ben McLemore
  • Tristan Thompson
  • Norris Cole
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Cory Joseph
  • Kosta Koufos
  • Kevin Seraphin
  • Montrezl Harrell
  • John Wall

What do those 10 of those first 11 guys have in common? NIKE deals! Signing with Rich Paul (pictured above) is almost always followed by signing with Nike. So Wall signing with Nike, as opposed to signing with Jordan (though related, their contracts function independently), seems likely.

Additionally, The Jordan Brand is already pretty loaded at the point guard position. They already have contracts with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, only two of the top three point guards in the NBA today. Do they want to shell out the money it will take to sign another member of the top 5, when other competing companies are sure to be offering Wall lucrative deals?

Maybe not. But one recent Jordan signing indicates that Jordan may just have their eyes on Wall after all.

THE NEXT BIG THING:

Although Jordan brand currently has over 20 NBA players signed, only a few of them are the type of brand headliners worthy of big contracts, signature shoes, and competition among Jordan, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, etc. Russell Westbrook. Chris Paul. Carmelo Anthony. Blake Griffin. LaMarcus Aldridge.

Oh, and Kawhi Leonard. At the end of 2013, Kawhi signed with Jordan. The Kawhi Leonard Jordan signed was a promising talent, who had shown steadily improved production, steadily rising popularity, and the potential to rise to the ranks of the NBA’s best.

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Kawhi would reward the Jordan brand with the 2014 NBA Finals MVP, and follow that up by winning the 2015 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He is likely to finish among the Top 3 in this year’s voting for 2016 NBA MVP. Now widely considered among the Top 5 best players in the NBA, Kawhi’s star is only rising. At 24 years old, he is on his way to replacing Carmelo, now 31, among the brand’s front court faces. You can be sure this transition was considered during Jordan’s pursuit of “The Klaw.”

Chris Paul turns 31 in May. For years, CP3 has been among The Jordan Brand’s most popular players, and though Russell Westbrook is slowly seizing the reigns of the Jordan Machine, Paul is still a prominent, and popular superstar. But aging is real, and with point guard being the most popular, most marketable position in basketball today, the Jordan Brand is sure to be looking out for the next great star, just like they were with Kawhi.

At 25 years old, Wall fits the bill. He’s got the persona. He’s got the personality. He’s got the flair on the court. He’s got the flair off the court:

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And as his recent on-court exploits prove, John Wall in Jordan’s is truly Jordanesque.

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