As John Wall continues his recovery from an Achilles injury that will likely rule him out for the entire 2019-20 season, the Washington Wizards point guard has plenty to prove once he returns to the court.
The 28-year-old signed a four-year, $170-million supermax extension in the summer of 2017, making him one of the highest-paid players in the league and with critics questioning whether he will be able to return to the All-Star form that saw the Wizards hand him the deal, Wall says he is using the doubters as motivation.
"I love it. It fuels me," Wall told The Athletic's Michael Lee. "[The 20]16-17 [season] was my best year. [Averaged] 23 [points] and 11 [assists]. John Wall is a top-two point guard. I get injured. John Wall is not a top-five point guard? Now, because I'm injured, I can't defend myself. Now I've got the worst contract ever? That's fine. I deserved that contract.
"My whole mindset is - it's in my notes - I didn't deserve it? When I come back, I'm going to show them I earned it."
Wall's deal will pay him $207 million through the 2022-23 season, making him the fourth-highest player in the NBA next season at $38,199,000, behind only Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Steph Curry.
After being named in the All-NBA third team in 2016-17, Wall has missed 91 regular-season games over the past two seasons with injury after only missing 12 games over the four seasons prior.
In 32 games last season, prior to his injury, Wall averaged 20.7 points per game and 8.7 assists on 44.4 percent shooting from the field and 30.2 percent from three.
After finishing last season with a 32-50 record, their worst record in six seasons, the Wizards face a tough period ahead without their leading man, but for Wall, his commitment to the franchise and the city is unwavering.
"Never will you hear me ask for a trade. The only way I'm going to get traded from D.C. is if they want to trade me themselves," Wall added.
"And that's one thing I think the fans will appreciate if they ever get to that point. I'm never one of those guys that want to chase a ring or do those things. I've told people this before. You win a ring; nobody is going to talk about that years down the road. But if you build a legacy in a place, that's going to go on for a long time."