We are still roughly three weeks away from the NBA draft and the Wizards brass including new owner to be, Ted Leonsis, GM Ernie Grunfeld, and Flip Saunders would have you think that they have not made up their mind yet. Don’t tell that to Stephen A. Smith though.
If Washington selects anybody other than Wall, they might not only have trouble selling tickets next year, but they might end up getting refund requests from the 400 new season ticket holders they were said to have gotten just hours after winning the lottery.
Let’s deal with the hypothetical situation that Washington does what just about every media outlet and sports prognosticator is predicting they’ll do and select John Wall with the first pick.
Those who have been following Wall for at least the last two years and anyone who knows how to Google has probably seen the highlight mixes and youtube clips. While playing for the Word of God Christian Academy Holy Rams as well as for his AAU team called D-One Sports, John wore the number that everybody knows him by, #11.
Unfortunately, we have probably seen the last of JWa11. If drafted by the Wizards Wall won’t be able to wear #11 because it’s retired for Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes.
This leaves us with the multi-million dollar question, what number will Wall wear if the Wizards select him?
Nobody really knows for sure until he shows up for his introductory press conference but that doesn’t mean we can’t guess or even suggest what number he should take.
I would assume, key word being assume, that Wall will probably select a number that has significant value to him, or perhaps one that he has previously worn. Based on this assumption I did a little bit of internet research to find cases where Wa11 had to switch his jersey numbers and here is what I came up with.
Back in 2008, while playing in Dave Telep’s Carolina Challenge, Wall wore #31. Chad Taylor, a 5′9 PG out of Sanford, NC who played for Southern Lee H.S. wore #11 but from the looks of it doesn’t seem to have had quite the same type of impact as John has.
The most famous Bullet or Wizard to wear #31 would have to be either Mark Alarie or Darvin Ham, and bringing Darvin’s number out of retirement might piss off the guys at Wizznutz.
My vote on John Wall wearing #31 is a simple no.
While playing for his AAU team, D-One Sports, in addition to wearing #11 Wall also played using #15.
Here are some former and a current (as of today) Bullets/Wizards who have donned the #15:
Randy Foye, Mark Price, Frank Johnson, and the 2nd pick in the 1959 NBA draft, Bailey Howell.
The longest tenured player on that list would be Frank Johnson, a good player for the Bullets back in the early 80s and former 1st round pick (11).
Randy Foye still has the number so there would probably have to be a deal worked out unless the Wizards and Foye decide to part ways. Combine that with the fact that Mark Price wore that number and only played in 7 games for the Bullets (one of the worst trades in franchise history) I will have to say hell no to Wall wearing #15.
At the Nike Global Challenge in 2008, Wall wore #6, a number that seems to be pretty popular now-a-days.
So what’s wrong with #6 you might ask? Nothing, nothing at all. Julius Erving wore it, Bill Russell wore it, and for those who like him, LeBron will be switching to it.
The problem here is that Wall is late to the number game. Our very own Gilbert Arenas, in what can only be an attempt to separate from the past and start anew, has already filed to have his number changed from #0 to #6 which was already being worn by current (as of today) Wizard, Mike Miller. I don’t see Wall prying this number away from Gilbert, so we can probably say it’s safe to take this number out of play.
The only Bullets/Wizards to have worn the #6 for those keeping track at home are Mike Riordan, Antonio Daniels and Mike Miller. That’s it.
In June of 2008, Wall played in Steve Nash’s Nike Skills Academy, which featured the top 20 high school guards and while there he wore #24. His usual number, #11 was being worn by Dion Waiters who is currently a highly rated SG prospect who was playing out of South Kent Prep, Andray Blatche’s alma mater.
Dion Waiters above the rim
Kobe currently wears #24, so I’m not sure if that would entice Wall to wear it or make him stay clear of it. In a world focused so heavily on marketing I would think it’s easier to establish yourself as a premiere player if you don’t have to share that number with somebody as big as Kobe.
As far as the Wizards franchise goes, the number has been worn recently by Alonzo Gee and Jarvis Hayes, and going back further allows us to unearth the names of Tom Gugliotta, Jeff Malone, and 1st round draft pick (#5) for the Baltimore Bullets, Jack Marin.
The only other number I could find Wall wearing was the #14 which he wore at LeBron James’ Nike Skills Academy.
The number 14 has a fun little Bullets/Wizards franchise history list to it. Have a glance at some of these names; Jerry Sloan (‘66), Clem Haskins (‘75), Michael Adams (‘87) who later wore #10, A.J. English (‘91), Robert Pack (‘96), Okesiy Pecherov (‘08) and Al Thornton who currently wears it.
If Wall wanted to get this number, he’d have to work something out with Thornton which shouldn’t be a big issue. Thornton could switch back to his college number of #12 as I don’t see the Wizards bringing Earl Boykins back.
Some other pluses if we are going to go historical with this would be that two of the greatest PG/G’s of all time wore #14. Again this would be another case where Wall would be taking a number already made famous but it would be one that he could make his own with the Wizards franchise.
So where does this leave us?
I am going to go against my own conventional wisdom that Wall would pick a number he’s already worn. My vote is for #1.
Rod Strickland who coached Wall at Kentucky also wore that number when he played here and Wall has gone out of his way a few times to mention Strickland as a big reason for his success and growth.
What better way to thank him than by wearing his old number?
Also, if you can’t have 11, isn’t 1 the next best thing? He’ll just have to convince Nick Young that he looks better in another number. Perhaps he can use the logic that Blatche switched his number and had a career year.
Just for the record, I also thought #3 would work. Wall stated in his interview with Kevin Sheehan on ESPN 980 that growing up his favorite player was Allen Iverson.
What number would you like to see Wall wear in Washington?