John Wall, who has enjoyed a fairly strong season with the Wizards, was named Most Valuable
Player during the Rookie Challenge. / Photo by John DeFreitas
The Washington Wizards may be in the midst of a disappointing season; however, two stars of the team – rookie John Wall and JaVale McGee – were a prominent part of the NBA All-Star festivities that took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., over the weekend.
With stars of the sports and entertainment world in attendance, both men would step to the occasion on a national stage and leave fans with an indelible impression of their performances.
John Wall, who has had a fairly strong season as a Wizard so far, was named Most Valuable Player during the Rookie Challenge – an exhibition game where the top NBA rookies faced their sophomore counterparts – on Fri., Feb. 18.
During the event, Wall would show basketball fans why the Wizards made him their first pick in the Player Draft last season. He would score 12 points; have 22 assists – a game record – and show off his athleticism with an array of amazing passes, flair and a memorable dunk in a 148-140 win over the sophomore team.
Wall, 20, would use his passing skills and setup his teammates – which included the electrifying Blake Griffin and former University of Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins, who scored 33 points – for shot after shot.
With little defense actually being played, it gave the players a chance to show off their skills on the court and simply have pure, unadulterated fun.
Wall would also take part in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday night where he was the only rookie to participate. Facing established stars such as Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry, Wall would finish fourth; meanwhile, Curry would take the event.
The second member of the Wizards to make his mark on the weekend, JaVale McGee, did so after Wall’s performance. He would take part in the Slam Sunk Challenge and would put on quite a show; however, Blake Griffin won the contest.
Griffin would win it all with a 68 percent vote thanks to a memorable display of theatrics and showmanship. He would win it all as he dunked over a Kia Optima in the final round – accompanied by a choir that belted out R-Kelly’s hit, “I Believe I Can Fly”, and NBA veteran Kenny Smith as an emcee. His teammate Baron Davis – who was behind the wheel of the vehicle -- lobbed the basketball through a sunroof for Griffin to receive.
While Griffin ended the night with glory, McGee showed the world his ability as a high-flyer as he entertained the crowd with his own amazing feats. McGee’s dunk in the first round was perhaps the most-memorable as he dunked balls into two baskets at the same time.
The amazing dunk had two basketball rims side by one side – one on a forklift, the other with a stationary setup. After several attempts, McGee was able to put both balls through both basket rims with a single leap. That enabled him to get a perfect score of 50 – the only one of the evening.
McGee would give the crowd two other dunks – including one that involved three balls, and the final with the help of Wall – but didn’t impress the crowd nearly as much as Griffin’s.