MIAMI -- Randy Wittman has said it all offseason. And so has John Wall.
He has grown and matured as a leader of the Wizards, especially after he signed a five-year, $80 million extension.
So as Wall got his legs iced after a Sunday morning shootaround before they played the Miami Heat and talked about playing through lower back spams, I asked him the obvious:
"Coming into this season you said you wanted to be a stronger leader and take over a bit more, does it feel more burdensome for you or you feel more responsible that you guys are not playing well now?"
Wall's answer: "It starts with me. I'm the head of the snake on defense and offense and in the second half of the Sixers game, I wasn't playing the same defense that I was in the first half. That's one thing coach said, just play both ends the whole 48 (minutes). We haven't played a game, 48 minutes yet, where we play defense. When you don't do that, teams find a way and get a lot of courage and feel like they can stick around and win games and that's what we did in the last two games."
In the preseason, where Wall's shooting was dreadful, he struck a similar tone. It's something that Wittman liked hearing when I told him of his remarks just before the regular season tipped off.
Wittman: "I like that. ... I want him to be critical of himself. I want them to feel they can do more, need to do more. It's a positive thing. I've been trying to preach to these guys the last couple years, owning up to what we do, what we can control is part of growing up and being a professional. You're never going to be as good as you can be if you make excuses or point fingers. … It doesn't have to be John. Any of us. I can be better. If I point fingers at somebody else how can I get better?"