Tuesday, July 23, 2024

THE 30 PLAYERS WHO DEFINED SLAM’S 30 YEARS: John Wall


For 3 a long time we’ve coated many wonderful basketball characters, however some stand above the remaining—not solely due to their on-court expertise (although these are at all times related), however due to how they influenced and proceed to affect basketball tradition, and thus influenced SLAM. In the meantime, SLAM has additionally modified these gamers’ lives in varied methods, as we’ve documented their careers with traditional covers, legendary pictures, wonderful tales, compelling movies and extra. 

We compiled a bunch of people (programming word: 30 entries, not 30 individuals whole) who imply one thing particular to SLAM and to our viewers. Learn the full listing right here and order your copy of SLAM 248, the place this listing was initially printed, right here.


John Wall has graced the quilt of SLAM as a excessive schooler, as a school participant and as a professional. Oh, and he has a KICKS cowl, too. Attempting to think about another person who can say that? There ain’t one. This concern is devoted to essentially the most influential SLAM guys ever. All-time gamers, fan favorites, actual hoopers. However solely John Wall can declare that. (Bragging rights for that enjoyable truth could come on a little bit of a technicality, since legends like LeBron and Kobe by no means performed school ball, however nonetheless!)

An athletic freak in a position to end with energy or finesse with both hand, Wall has at all times been a blur—quicker whereas dribbling a basketball than 90 % of different gamers in a full dash with out one. Within the prime of his profession, Wall’s athleticism made him an All-NBA participant, however his relentless confidence and never-back-down demeanor made him a fan favourite. At factors, he referred to as himself the very best two-way level guard within the League and the very best shot-blocking PG in historical past. At a time when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have been nonetheless going sturdy, John declared himself and Bradley Beal the very best backcourt within the NBA, too.

A part of what’s made Wall such a magnetic pressure in basketball tradition since he was a young person is that he wears his coronary heart on his sleeve. Like when he jumped on the scorer’s desk after beating the Celtics in a legendary Japanese Convention Semis Sport 6, celebrating with the Wizards’ trustworthy. Or when he broke down crying in a postgame interview after the tragic passing of 6-year-old most cancers affected person Miyah, with whom he’d developed a powerful bond. Or when he returned to DC years later in a Clippers uniform and proudly screamed out, “That is my metropolis!” to the sector he referred to as dwelling for 5 All-Star seasons. Wall has at all times been unapologetically himself, from the very starting.

And but, the eventual No. 1 choose within the 2010 Draft was just about unheard of outdoor of North Carolina when he began highschool. However after killing native competitors at Reebok camps all over the place from Chicago to Philly, we highlighted his play on the ’08 Elite 24 Sport in SLAM 122.

And it have to be talked about: John Wall has the GOAT highschool mixtape. With over 10 million views and counting, it’s 4 minutes of totally breathtaking basketball—no-look dimes, ankle-shattering fastbreak spin strikes, ferocious finishes on the rim with each arms. No disrespect to the HS mixtapes of Brandon Jennings, Aquille Carr, Seventh Woods or Austin Rivers, however John’s remains to be the very best ever. [Ed. Note: This is Abe’s opinion. We don’t have time to debate this here.] Within the 12 months 2176, individuals will nonetheless have his mixtape bookmarked. The highest touch upon YouTube jokes, “Think about having to protect John Wall after a protracted day of pre-calc and AP gov,” however that’s actually the way it was for the Class of 2009.

We dubbed John a future star on the quilt of SLAM 128, alongside Lance Stephenson. Quickly after, JW linked up with DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and the remainder of John Calipari’s first No. 1 recruiting class at Kentucky. As a freshman, he gained SEC Participant of the Yr, was a consensus first-team All-American and was front-and-center on his second SLAM cowl, showing subsequent to his teammates and Coach Cal on the Could 2010 ish that immortalized that iconic squad.

It received so loopy at UK that John needed to take golf carts to class to keep away from mobs of followers. Youngsters throughout the nation have been imitating his signature dance, flexing and twisting on the wrist. Consider it or not, “Do the John Wall” by Troop 41 has much more YouTube views than Wall’s legendary mixtape.

Becoming that John had his personal theme tune, since his ardour for music has at all times permeated his fashion. Hell, it influenced us—return over his cowl strains and have tales within the pages of SLAM through the years, and also you’ll see not-so-subtle odes to the likes of DeJ Loaf, Shy Glizzy, Lil Durk and Fetty Wap. That love has at all times been reciprocated by the artists, too. Put it this manner: John Wall might be your favourite rapper’s favourite NBA participant.

Which is why it was no shock to us when John hit the Dougie throughout intros of his dwelling NBA debut, instantly capturing the creativeness of a brand new era of basketball followers—and pissing off outdated hacks like Colin Cowherd. (The identical man who as soon as scrunched up his face to attempt to shit on guys like Wall, Russ and Melo by telling a nationwide radio viewers: “SLAM Journal will placed on the man that scores, and has fashion, and has received some juice to his recreation.” Phrase. And?)

Wall’s first solo SLAM cowl dropped throughout his rookie 12 months with the Wiz, adopted by one other in 2015 after which KICKS 18, shot by the legendary Atiba Jefferson. John’s SLAM covers have chronicled his rise from unknown child to HS mixtape legend to school star to perennial All-Star together with his personal signature shoe. And he’s taken us alongside for the experience each step of the way in which, the #WallWay. 


Featured picture by way of Getty Photos. Portrait by Atiba Jefferson.



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