Phoenix owner Wall trains with squad, eyes NBA return

Murray Wenzel |

SEM Phoenix fans have had a tantalising glance of five-time NBA All-Star John Wall in club colours.
SEM Phoenix fans have had a tantalising glance of five-time NBA All-Star John Wall in club colours.

South East Melbourne Phoenix part-owner John Wall will sit down over dinner with his NBL team and plot a championship tilt before the five-time NBA All-Star returns home to resurrect his own career.

Wall was decked out in Phoenix colours – the club surprised him with a personalised jersey with his name and college number – when he trained with the third-placed side on Friday.

The former No.1 draft pick and long-time Washington star will sit with fellow owners Romie Chaudhari and Nick Kyrgios at Sunday’s clash against local rivals and ladder-leaders Melbourne United.

“We’ll talk a bit more, and after the game … hopefully go to dinner or something and kick it, talk about what we can do to improve the team and league and make it better for everyone,” he said.

“It’s dope; the league is growing, it’s super-exciting for me to … be hands on and watching these guys work.”

Wall, 33, has bounced from Houston to Los Angeles since he was cut from the Wizards in 2020 and is free to play with any team willing to take a chance on a talent slowed down by injury.

“I’m still dedicated to get back in; something will happen soon,” he said, before politely brushing away suggestions he could suit up for his own team in the NBL.

“You never know … I’m not going to make any promises, but it’s exciting to put the jersey on.”

John Wall, SEM Phoenix part-owner.
Part-owner John Wall at training with some of his South East Melbourne NBL players.

The Phoenix have added veteran forward Daniel Johnson as a short-term injury replacement for Gorjok Gak, while United are yet to put a line through the involvement of Luke Travers, Ariel Hukporti or Ian Clark.

The trio were injured in Monday night’s dramatic overtime loss to Perth, Travers’ head colliding with Hukporti’s knee in the 47th second while Clark (hamstring) was scratched before halftime.

They will all have a chance to prove their fitness at training on Saturday.

“We’ve got to face adversity throughout the season in one way or another and ours has been we haven’t been able to get everyone on court,” United star Chris Goulding said.