John Wall's Day

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Craig Stouffer

What a week of sports, that's the only way to sum up how today was a perfect cap to an incredible few days that included the crazy drama for the U.S at the World Cup, crazy forever-ness at Wimbledon, more strikeouts from Stephen Strasburg and more nonsense from Albert Haynesworth.

To paraphrase Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld -- who has been saying all week "What better way to start a new era than with the No. 1 overall pick," -- what better way to welcome John Wall to Washington than to have Mayor Adrian Fenty proclaim it "John Wall Day."

Seriously, the guy hasn't even picked out his number, much less shot a jumper or heaven forbid, won a game for the Wizards yet.

And by the way, he's not going to wear No. 11 — Elvin Hayes' retired number.

"Nobody ever got somebody’s jersey unretired, so I don’t think its going to work," said Wall. Maybe 3 or 15, from the sounds of it.

But back to his arrival at Dulles, where he was whisked away from his delayed flight from New York in a limousine, replete with police escort, and greeted on Abe Pollin Way in front of Verizon Center, which already boasts a massive "Wall: Game Changer" banner, by a crowd of fans and a red carpet.

Just like at Kentucky, right?

"Just like it, except for the red carpet, the red carpet was big time, the BET Awards or something," said Wall. As for the police escort? "I ain’t never had that at Kentucky, that was big time. I’ve never seen nobody swerve through traffic like that. We was making moves, and the cop was moving and the Excursion was sliding. It was pretty nice to get here and see everybody outside there to see me come out."

That was just the beginning. Down on the practice court, another crowd — mostly clad in "Wall: Game Changer" t-shirts - waited for him, as did a video greeting (that I'm putting in every blog post I write today) that included Wizards staff, a host of D.C. sports figures, and both Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and minor partner Sheila Johnson doing the John Wall Dance (which, by the way, was included in his draft bio -- no, really).

Oh, and then there was the plaque from the mayor.

Wall went flawlessly from making fun of Leonsis — "He tried, but it seems like he lost a little step or two," — to the gravity of having his own day — "That’s a big statement. I guess the President gotta say I got a day, but you’re thankful for it, and you just keep going. Stay humble and just keep working and stay motivated from it."

Let's repeat: he's never played an NBA game, and he's still 19 years old. Are the Wizards heaping too much on him right away?

"I never heard of nothing like too much pressure," said Wall. "It’s up to you, if you really want to see there’s too much pressure, but like LeBron [James] said, he told me, don’t try to live up to all the hype, just play every game like you love it. Just go out and play the way you know how to. That’s basically all I know how to do."

As for the performances in the video: "A 19-year-old kid, to see people like that I looked up to on the football side, and I watch hockey a little bit. I watch basically, him [Alex Ovechkin] and Sidney Crosby are basically the two best players and Strasburg’s one of the top pitchers coming into the game now so, to see those guys doing it, you know. You’re tyring to bring sports back in D.C. I’m going to support those guys this season and try to go watch a couple of their games."

The kid has his sports down pat, including soccer.

But he's also worn the heck out. Workouts, done. Shoe deal, done. Week in New York for the draft, done. Full day of autographs and greetings at Verizon Center, done. He and his crew are off to Raleigh tomorrow, then Miami for a couple days of chill out.

What a start for Wall, what a finish for the week. We all need a deep breath.

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