Welp. If you previously tried to shrug off any reality that the Wizards-Cavs rivalry was back in full throttle, please try no more. You can’t escape it. You can’t evade it. You simply cannot ignore it any longer.
Let’s recall: The rivalry began to unravel a bit when Kyrie was drafted. It then continued when Kyrie won the All-Star MVP. It wouldn’t let up after Wall made — and won the first round in the playoffs. It took a strong turn after Kyrie made Team USA and Wall didn’t. It finally became official when LeBron came back. And now, before we can even get warmed up to the new NBA season as Media Day and training camps get underway, John Wall cemented the reality of this reignited rivalry even more, throwing a hard verbal uppercut back at Dion Waiters when I asked him his response to Waiters’ remark about the elite status of the Wizards backcourt.
Crash course history: Yesterday at Wizards Media Day, Bradley Beal was asked how he and John were coming along and what their expectations were as an up and coming tandem of guards. Beal, very normally, responded that he and John are “definitely the best backcourt in the league.” Later, Waiters was asked about Beal’s comments, and he unwinkingly responded by saying “that’s nonsense.”
The first jab was thrown by Dion, and so I made sure John Wall offered us his counter. And my God did he ever. Remember, Wall takes it to heart even when the media and press understate him. Hence, there was no question Wall was going to take a hard shot at Waiters for his disregard.
“They haven’t seen a playoff game yet, so when they make one, they can start talking. If you’re going to be the best backcourt, you have to start. This is the year he’s probably starting, so let’s see if they’re the best backcourt.”
Full video, thanks to Adam McGinnis of TruthAboutIt:
So now the date of November 21st, when the Wizards and Cavs square off for the first time during the regular season in DC cannot come soon enough. A nationally televised game. LeBron back in a Cavs uni. The duel for the Point Guard crown. Also not to mention an expected few extra glares from John Wall at Dion Waiters. DC fans have been hard-pressed for a basketball rivalry again, and with these two rivaling backcourts averaging an age of 22, we might have one on our hands for a long, long time.
Other notes from Day 1:
Oh yeah, there was more talked about at the Verizon Center besides Dion Waiters’ feelings. While the media was only allowed on the floor for the winding moments and unable to see much of any real practice, Wall and Marcin Gortat did tell us they were fully satisfied with the way the team kicked off camp.
– Wall said the team showed up at 9:30 this morning, despite practice not beginning until 11. “Everybody was weight lifting or getting their workouts on the court.”
– Wall also compared this year’s opening day of camp to years past, saying the team was much more ready to go this year and not needing a lot of warmup drills to get going. He said players were less stiff and were able to get right into coach Wittman’s basketball drills.
– Wall iterated the importance of being consistency during training camp: “The first day is the most exciting day. Now the main key is to have that same enthusiasm the rest of the week.”
– When Wall was asked who won during practice he replied, “C’mon man you know my team won. The blue team won.”
Gortat followed up Wall’s comments regarding how strongly the Wizards opened up training camp: “The whole procedure was different. We had a different warmup, a different approach. We had a different focus.”
Like Wall, Gortat also keyed in on the importance of maintaining the same approach and focus come later in the week.
When asked if more seriousness is being emphasized in practice, Gortat noted that the presence of more veterans helps to achieve that kind of approach. “The youngins just have to follow us.”
Kris Humprhies and Drew Gooden working on their long balls will close us out.