If you follow college or NBA basketball, you know that ESPN personality Colin Cowherd has an unreasonable grudge against former Wildcat John Wall. Cowherd not only insulted Wall's character, he has completely dug his heels in and refuses to give an inch.
Surely one man lambasting another on a national level would be somewhat warranted, right? You would think Wall kicked his dog or personally insulted or disrespected him, right?
John Wall's heinous offense... he grew up without his father, and he danced. That is it; this is why Colin Cowherd has decided to sit atop his ivory tower and cast aspersions on him for over half a decade.
John Wall grew up with his father in prison up until age 8; it was at that point his father died of cancer. Wall's mother, Frances Pulley, worked hard to make ends meet and did the best she could raising him properly, she did a damn good job. The problem early on was Wall losing his father at such a young, volatile age and never really knowing him. That lack of guidance and fatherly love pushed him into a mindset of always pushing back against authority figures.
Between his mother's efforts and Levi Beckwith, his high school coach at Word of God Christian Academy, Wall slowly matured and transformed into an elite prospect as his character and skills grew. Wall would eventually follow Coach John Calipari to Lexington to grow both aspects of his life even more.
The John Wall Dance
The city of Lexington was on the verge of pandemonium, starving for a winner and hiring a proven success in John Calipari, who was bringing the #1 recruiting class with him. Big Blue Madness was primed to be an off the charts event. Madness was set to kick off with the players being lifted via forklift up to a stage where they would be announced to 25,000 rabid fans.
John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins had practiced their dance in the locker room and they were both going to wow the crowd with their moves, but DeMarcus was so nervous about the height of the stage that he got too worried to dance. Wall pushed forward and created a phenomenon with his right arm fist rotating move, now simply known as the John Wall Dance. That dance made Kentucky basketball instantly cool. What followed was a myriad of fans posting videos of them doing the John Wall dance.
One fan did the John Wall dance over a deer he had killed, another on the Great Wall of China, along with countless others. Many of which had toddlers and young children mimicking it, in what will likely end up being one of their first memories of being a Kentucky fan. John Wall became bonded to the John Wall dance and the beginning of the rebirth of Kentucky Basketball. This became an unintentional, but very tangible part of his brand and essentially the beginning of Kentucky basketball being back.
A few months later the Washington Wizards would draft 19-year old John Wall with the #1 overall pick and a clear indication that they wanted him to revive the franchise and build a team around him. At John Wall's first home game, they introduced him and he danced to the music playing.
Cowherd goes on the offensive
This is when Cowherd decided it was time to try to drag down the kid.
"John Wall came out and did ‘The Dougie,' first home game, for 34 seconds," "He was a moron. It's the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I will never back down."
"Let me tell you something: I'm a big believer, when it comes to quarterbacks and point guards. Who's your dad? Who's your dad? Because I like confrontational players, I don't like passive aggressive. Strong families equal strong leaders."
Shame on you John Wall for having a father that made a poor life choice, and then having the poor grace to die of cancer before you were 9 years old. Cowherd could not contain himself and went on to try and pound his sociopathic point home.
"I simply have a different opinion than you do on John Wall. I like the character of Derek Fisher, the rebounding and distribution ability of Rajon Rondo, that's what I like. That's what I want from my point guards. You celebrate the assists more than the buckets...I know he's great. So don't confuse [me saying] John Wall's no good. No, John Wall's an A+ talent. I don't think he's ever gonna be an A+ win-championships point guard."
If you are keeping score at home, Rajon Rondo's father walked out on him when he was seven years old, I guess Cowherd forgot about that. By the way, the above quote came after Wall posted a triple double on November 10, 2010. Does Cowherd know that means he had at least 10 assists? He was not done either:
"He's gonna be a fast break of 1, he's not gonna be a lot-of-titles guy, he's not gonna be that guy.... Just because I don't jump into the hype fest of the Kentucky media to the D.C. media, who have an agenda, an emotional conviction toward him? Sorry. But I hated the Dougie. It's absurd, it's not what leaders do in any industry, it's childish, it's bad judgment, and I don't care if the guy at the arena told you to do the Dougie. I hated it."
Cowherd would go on, digging more into the family issues using Rondo as an example, once again; Rondo had a similar upbringing to Wall. Cowherd talked about good family upbringings leading to confrontational people and those were the people who made it. Not passive aggressive people, here is what Colin thinks about them:
"That's not a good husband, and it's not a good point guard, and it's not a good CEO. They have brain types. And people who test for brain types knew that Peyton Manning would be much more successful than Ryan Leaf, because of Peyton Manning's family background and his confrontational style. Derrick Rose pouts, gets moody, is passive-aggressive. I'm not a fan of Derrick Rose as my point guard. Rajon Rondo? Very confrontational. Argues with Doc Rivers, argues with teammates, argues with officials. I love that in my point guard. Magic would yap, Manning yaps, Brees yaps, Brady yaps, McNabb yaps. I want guys who are confrontational."
It does not stop there though, folks, somehow, some way Mr. Cowherd decided to link Michael Vick to John Wall.
"You know, John Wall and Vick are very similar. I'm not disputing their talent. I mean, Michael Vick and John Wall are fun to watch. But building my franchise around him, leadership position? I'm not giving Vick four-year deals, I'm not giving him $40 mil. No way. No. Way."
Cowherd decided to put a convicted felon, who built a mini-empire out of animal cruelty with heinous stories of abuse, on the same level as John Wall. I have an opinion why he lumped the two together. In his cowardly manner, it was a way to bring dirt to Wall's name in an ironically passive aggressive way. He could have chosen dozens of other athletes to make his point, but he chose a convicted felon and sports most disliked person.
Who is John Wall, really?
So who is John Wall, we know he had the odds stacked against him before he ever got to the University of Kentucky. As a black male in America, John Wall has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison. He had a .03% chance of making it to the NBA. That means that Wall was over 1,000 times more likely to go to prison than he was making it to the NBA ... hell, I would probably dance too if I overcame odds like that.
While in his one year at Kentucky, Wall had no problem up and grabbing a teammate and going to a hospital to brighten a sick kid's day. No media was alerted, no tweeting about it, no publicity at all. He would just grab a player or two and say "Let's go." Throughout these visits he eventually befriended a young UK fan named Reese Kemp. Kemp also lost his father at a young age, but now suffers from cystic fibrosis. Wall was one of the first players to visit Kemp and help change his outlook on life.
"They took me from not even wanting to live to just loving life." Kemp Said.
Normally, that would be good enough, he made a kids day and could go back to being a rock star in Lexington ... but he did not. Wall would call him the next day just to check on him and see how he was doing. Wall had this to say about Reese and what motivated him to be a figure in his life.
"He told me it was great to have someone that cared about him," Wall said by telephone last week. "He said that before that, he didn't want to live. He didn't want to keep fighting."
Wall did not stop interacting with Reese after leaving UK; he got drafted #1 by the Wizards and decided to fly out Kemp to a plush hotel and tickets to a game. Wall also mails Kemp sneakers, jerseys, and most anything he can send him.
"Everything changed after I became friends with John," Reese said. "He was like a big brother."
Remember, this is supposed to be a guy who is "not sharp, all about him."
Piggybacking on that, John Wall was able to earn a max contract consisting of a 5-year, 80-million dollar extension. Before the ink was dry on the contract, he pledged $1 Million to the city of Washington's local charities.
"Losing my dad at 9, it made my mom become something I don't think a lot women could be," he said. "Working three or four jobs. Just, I had to become a man quicker than I wanted to. My whole thing is I was put on this earth to be something, and I was blessed to be a great basketball player, but my main thing was to keep striving to be a better person.
That's one thing my mom always instilled in me, it doesn't matter what nobody thinks about you as a basketball player, God is going to look at you as a person first. Aunts. Sisters. Grandmother. I'm pushing my younger . . . Words can't even explain what . . . um . . ."
Wall was reduced to tears at that point, remember this is a "not sharp, all about him" guy according to king Cowherd.
While in Washington, Wall was introduced to Miyah Telamaque-Nelson through a friend. Miyah was battling Lymphoma at the time and Wall befriended her and her family. Wall had the family sit in his seats at games, and he helped arrange for Miyah to meet her idol Nicki Minaj.
The day that Miyah passed, Wall dedicated the game to her and he went out and beat the Celtics 133-132. Wall scored 26 points, had 17 assists and 7 rebounds in a game that he refused to lose, scoring the Wizards last 10 points. After the game he broke down talking about Miyah.
Shortly after that night, Cowherd decided to bring up the John Wall situation once again, yet he refused to right his wrong. He dug his heels in, gave a halfhearted "Atta boy" to Wall's growth, and concluded with this.
"Was I too harsh on him? Eh, I host a radio show; I do basically 30 columns a day. But if you're looking for apologies, you're fishing off the wrong pier. I say what I mean, I mean what I say, and you begging to try to get attention's never going to happen. Ever."
As recently as this past Christmas, Wall was still extending his good fortunes to others. He spent the day with eight kids by taking them Christmas shopping.
"John's a good person. Always has been," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "He's done a tremendous amount of work in the community - not only this year but in the past. But maybe some things have been more in the forefront this year that have been public. He's always been that type of person. He has a good heart and wants to give back."
"It's better to give than to receive," Wall said. "I'm a humble kid and still enjoy everything that I do. I've been put in a situation where I can be beneficial to others. It's an opportunity to give back. I want to see my community do well."
"Not sharp, all about him?" Get the heck out of here with that, Colin.
John Wall also had a great year on the court last season as he made the All-Star team, took the Wizards to the playoffs, and averaged 19 points and 9 assists for the season. What did Mr. Cowherd think of the turn of fortunes by the Wizards led by Wall?
"Ooh, and you made the playoffs in the East. Woo-hoo! Don't forget the Knicks until the last week were fighting for a playoff spot in the East; they fired their entire staff. So listen, when John Wall came out and did the Dougie, first home game, for 34 seconds, he was a moron. It's the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I will never back down."
Cowherd backlash and his mercenary motives
To Their credit, there are a myriad of articles blasting Cowherd over his behavior toward Wall including a few of his ESPN colleagues. Bomani Jones had this to say about him.
oh, and i asked if colin would walk it back on wall. he did. just not on the most important parts. http://t.co/ZEXXGsHVv9— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) December 9, 2014
Very recently, Scott Van Pelt also voiced his feelings about it on twitter with an epic sub-tweet about Cowherd's ignorance.
Imagine how good Wall would be if he didn't dance that one time.— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) April 22, 2015
So, who is Colin Cowherd, other than being a ratings pig that thrives on driving clicks and Google analytics at all costs? The definition of the adjective form of mercenary is someone primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics... sound familiar?
Colin Cowherd essentially gloated over Sean Taylor's death; he also thinks that Roger Goodell is a father figure to fatherless, black NFL players. Cowherd also thinks that if you live in Ohio or Indiana, you are bringing unemployment on yourself.
"I could argue that if you still live in Cleveland at this point, you're bringing unemployment on, couldn't I?"
"If you live in Youngstown, Ohio should I have no sympathy that you're unemployed? You're kinda bringing it on yourself."
"If you live in Ohio or Indiana rurally, you're kinda bringing unemployment on yourself."
Cowherd thrives off creating controversy and whatever it takes to move the needle. He has even said as much on his show. I hate to admit this, but I used to be a listener about five to six years ago. His radio show fit right into the time I took off for lunch and living in Knoxville and being a UK fan, I did not want to listen to UT sports radio.
I actually once heard Colin Cowherd go on a tangent about how Scottie Pippen was by far one of the 50 greatest of all-time and anyone who did not believe it was wrong and ignorant. Just a few months later, the same Colin Cowherd went on another tangent about how Scottie Pippen was absolutely nothing without Michael Jordan and may have fizzled out in the league without him. At that point, I knew all I needed to know about the guy.
I know why Cowherd continues to rail on John Wall no matter what happens because I know what kind of guy he is, we all do. He is the guy who refuses to admit he is wrong, even in the face of complete and overwhelming facts to the contrary. He is also the guy who cares absolutely nothing about the implications of the negative publicity he can create for the person he is disparaging. It gets traffic; it moves the needle so who cares.
Cowherd is the guy that will steal the sale from you after you have done the work and then tell you it was your fault for not paying attention. He is the guy that would evict a single mother on the second day of the month and blame her for not being good enough to keep a husband.
Cowherd is like the friend you had but never really trusted.
If he was talking to your girlfriend, you had one eye on them. You probably did not leave your wallet out in the open around him. You also kept secrets from him because you knew he was not mature enough to handle it and would likely try to twist it for his own gain anyway. You also hated playing sports with him because you knew it was going to be "the him show."
They say a zebra does not change his stripes, and at 51 years old there is virtually zero chance that Cowherd will ever apologize to John Wall for his actions, in fact I fully expect him to needle him every chance he gets and revel in the day that Wall's talents leave his body.
My guess is that Cowherd will be right there ready to spend an hour waxing poetic about how he was right about Wall, how he grew up fatherless and lacked leadership because of it and that is why he danced that one time. We will all be sorry for doubting the great Cowherd... in his fantasy world that is.
I only hope that before that day comes, Colin Cowherd gets his comeuppance and someone who cares more about integrity and quality than they do dollars, makes the correct decision to take his microphone away.