Kentucky Faithful Follow John Wall to D.C.

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Antawn Jamison returned home for the first time since being traded to Cleveland, Gilbert Arenas made his Verizon Center debut, and all the fans seem to care about is John Wall.

“We need Gilbert because we need more scoring, but John Wall… he’s going to be the future,” Wizards fan Jack Jenkins said.

Watching Wall play for a struggling Wizards team reminds many of those early days in the Ovechkin Era — an exceptional young talent determined to build a winning tradition in Washington. After Saturday’s loss to the Cavs, the Wizards have now endured more losses than Wall did his entire freshman season at Kentucky.

“We’ve just got to find a way to finish out games,” Wall said.

As Cleveland fans can attest, sometimes a player can transform a franchise.

The absence of Lebron James jerseys at the Verizon Center was painfully noticeable — serving as an eery reminder of the void his departure created. Last season Cavs games at the Verizon Center served as a quarterly celebration for Ohio transplants and bandwagoners alike. Now the arena is littered with listless Cleveland fans who purchased cheap tickets in hopes that it would give them some closure. Zack Morris quit Saved By the Bell and the show must go on.

“Lebron is a once in a lifetime player,” Cavs fan Dan Riffle said. “John Wall is nowhere near the player he was, but the Wizards are in a good place with him.”

For Lexington natives Joseph and Whitney Estes, watching Wall play was the perfect way to spend their one-year anniversary together. Donned head-to-toe in Kentucky Wildcat gear, beadednecklaces, and holding an oversized sign that read “FREE ENES”, the Esteses treated their anniversary present like a makeshifthomecoming. Perhaps the only thing missing from their motif was a cardboard cutout of Ashley Judd holding a pair of blue pompoms.

“I bleed blue”, Estes said “and any time I can get a chance to follow somebody that has come from the University of Kentuckygo to the pro level, I’m there to support him.”

And Estes wasn’t kidding when he used the word “follow”. Now a naval officer at Bowling Air Force Base, Estes was going through boot camp while Wall endured the rigors of the NBA draft process.

“As soon as I heard there was a chance I could [be stationed] in D.C., I said ‘sign me up because John Wall is going there.’ He’s going to be a star.”

“The support of these Kentucky fans means a lot to me,” Wall said, “they travel so well.”

Joseph and Whitney Estes have their eye on January 11th when former Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings come to town. They welcome fellow Kentucky fans and UK alums to join the fun. Maybe Ashley Judd will be in attendance. Maybe the Wizards will get a win this time.