ESPN Radio guy Colin Cowherd deserves grief for calling out Washington rookie John Wall over Wall's rendition of "The Dougie" dance during introductions before the Wizards home opener Nov. 2 versus Philadelphia.
You might say that Colin Cowherd needs to get a life. Slamming the Rook, who turned 20 on Sept. 6, as another Iverson, Marbury or Stevie Francis because he charmed Wizards fans with the Dougie shows a gross lack of perspective about young athletes and maybe young people in general.
Actually, everybody's trying to learn to Dougie. It's all the rave.
You know, "Teach Me How to Dougie, Teach Me How to Dougie." School kids all over America are uttering those words at Friday night mixers. Everybody wants to know if you can Dougie. Like the "Bump" and "Hustle" fad dances in the 1970s or the "Macarena" during the middle 1990s, nothing decadent, just the Dougie.
You listen to Cowherd on the radio and you know his shtick is to fire up the legions. And normally you give him credit for doing the backgrounding necessary to draw patterns and conclusions about sports issues. But to lump Wall with malcontents in his third NBA game is much ill conceived.
In his rant the day after the Wizards beat the Sixers 116-115 in overtime on the strength of Wall's spectacular performance of 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals, Cowherd went on: "I'm gonna call out John Wall. ... Before the game started, he spent 34 seconds doing the Dougie. That tells me all I need to know about J-Wow. Then he opened his mouth later and confirmed it: not a sharp guy. All about him. In that line last night, that 29-point line, when he was out of control, he had 8 turnovers. By the way, Rajon Rondo had 17 assists last night, 0 turnovers. Rajon's got rings. Wall will never have one. ..."
Cowherd's assertions on Wall lacks credence on a number of fronts. First, comparisons to Rondo can't possibly hold water. As great as he is already, Rondo can't match the potential of Wall. In just three pro games, you can see that Wall is the heir apparent to the league's great players of today. He has the explosiveness of Dwayne Wade, on-court instincts of LeBron James and relentlessness of Kobe Bryant.
Simply, Wall is the best rookie player to come down the pike in the last few years -- likely matching the impact Kevin Durant is having in Oklahoma City. Wall's budding legend will bump up tonight when he makes his Madison Square Garden pro debut in New York against the Knicks.
Cowherd skewered Wall for committing eight turnovers during the Sixers game. Yet moments after the game ended, during the on-court post-game interview, Wall was cognizant enough to bemoan the turnovers despite the interviewer gushing all over his performance. "Yeah, it was great, man, the one thing I want to really work on, though -- great win for the team -- but turnovers. I came back in and had nine or eight. That's too many turnovers for this team."
His off-the-cuff comments underscore that Wall understands the game and knows what he has to do to get better. Besides, on Cowherd's comparison with Rondo, let's not forget that Rondo is passing the ball in Boston to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Wall is chucking it to the likes of JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and Al Thornton. Huge difference.
Cowherd went further to brand Wall as selfish, saying Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas and others would never do the Dougie before a game and that Wall would never get a championship ring. Maybe, maybe not, but Johnson and Thomas weren't without their indiscretions during their careers, and, as great as they were, can't be held up as models of virtue (Do we need to rehash "the kiss," running women, Isiah's flakiness?).
As for never winning a championship, who else wins championships in the NBA but the Lakers or Celtics anyway, because they buy all the top players. But give Wall time and a credible supporting cast and he could win. Besides, by the time Bryant, Garnett, James, Wade and others get closer to the end of their careers, a guy like Wall will be in mid-stride and might be the best of the best.
How do you put Wall in such company already or categorize him with the issues Iverson, Marbury and Francis have had during their careers. You can't. By all accounts, Wall has been on the straight and narrow. He's a country boy from North Carolina who lost his father to cancer when he was 9 years old. He has had his ups and downs, but a strong mother in the absence of his father during his formative years kept him going.
We've seen all-knowing sports guys like Cowherd over the years. But calling out the kid Wall in a seemingly vile manager is a gratuitous stretch. Based on the Dougie? So he likes to dance, so what. But no media reports of high school jail-time, drug usage or abusing young girls. And you get the sense from hearing him that Wall has a genuine love and respect for the game. What else do you want in the league's next superstar?
DMA 7-22 Sports is a blog column about sports in the Washington-Baltimore market, covering amateurs, colleges and pros. The title DMA 7-22? Means "Designated Market Area," per use of media rating services, signifying Washington is the 7th largest media market in the United States, and Baltimore is the 22nd. You can reach M.V. Greene at DMA722Sports@gmail.com
Photo Credit: John Wall, Colin Cowherd, AP