John Wall was asked over the weekend what it will be like facing the Wizards on Tuesday night for the first time since they traded him. He downplayed it a bit, saying there would be more emotion when he makes his return to Washington in February.
Well, that's going to be hard to imagine once you hear his extended thoughts on playing the Wizards on Tuesday, which he shared with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. Now with the Rockets, Wall admitted facing the Wizards is personal after how his exit was handled, and that he is out for revenge.
"Just seeing everybody that's over there, a lot of people that's on that side that probably didn't believe I could come back to be the person I am. And probably some people that had a little say so into me being traded," Wall told Miller.
"I feel like it was a whole process and it wasn't just something that happened overnight. I think this was in the works. That's my motivation. Who wouldn't want to beat the team that traded them and felt like I was done?"
Oh, there's more. Lots more, actually. Wall made direct and indirect references to people and events that played a role in his departure.
Miller asked Wall point-blank whether Tuesday night's game is personal and that's where he went into detail.
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"I feel like it is. I definitely feel so because, I know I had my say so and my responsibilities with what I did off the court and things I [did], but I owned up to those. I said my apologies and that's the best I can do. Nobody's perfect. We all live and learn from our mistakes. I wish it would have never happened, but it happened, yes. I moved forward from it. My mindset was to come back and compete at a high level in the one jersey I only knew for 10 years," Wall said, perhaps referencing the offseason video he apologized for that purportedly showed him flashing gang signs at a party.
"I just wish I would have known up front and not have to beat around the bush to figure things out. That's just my motivation there. They thought I was done. Basically, that's how I feel. This is my opportunity to show them that I'm not done. But the most important thing for me is get the win. I don't care how many numbers I have, it's about getting the win. That's the most important thing because if I get 40 and then we lose, the trade don't look as bad from their aspect because they beat us that one game they did play us. So, my ultimate goal is to try to get a win for my team tomorrow."
Wall didn't name names, but he did go into depth about how he felt the Wizards could have been more honest in the days leading up to the trade, which sent Wall and a protected first round pick to Houston in exchange for Russell Westbrook. The deal took place on Dec. 2, but the initial rumor was reported a week earlier.
"Most importantly, all I really wanted from the start of all of it was just to be told the truth. That's the most important thing and what made it so hard for me to understand what was going on because I wasn't told the truth. I understand it's a business and things go on and people move on and you get traded, organizations in different ways. When I heard the rumors, I called and asked are these true or are these something not to worry about? From that day forward, all I heard was 'no, those rumors aren't true, don't worry about it.' In all reality, it was true," Wall said.
Wall had never really been part of trade rumors previously in his career, so it is understandable that the experience came as a shock. That said, it is not uncommon for organizations to keep the players involved in trades out of those conversations. Perhaps Wall felt he deserved to know, but the Wizards evidently wanted to keep their negotiations under wraps, even from him.
We may never know the whole story from both sides, but what we do know is Tuesday night just got even more interesting.
Watch Chris Miller's full interview with John Wall on Wizards Pregame Live Tuesday night. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.