When Brandon Banks took that third quarter punt back 77 yards for a touchdown, he finished by doing the John Wall Dance, as popularized by the Wizards’ first-round draft pick. I assumed that this was just because, well, that’s what D.C. athletes are gonna be doing to celebrate now that Wall is in town, but it turns out to be a little bit more than that: Banks and Wall, it transpires, are old friends.
“We grew up in a little community together,” Banks said. “We’re real, real tight. We talk back and forth. That’s my homeboy.”
The “little community” in question is Raleigh, North Carolina, and Banks’s journey from there to D.C. has been anything but direct. His first stop, on the recommendation of his college track coach, was a junior college in California; from there he went on to start at Kansas State, and from there he went undrafted and signed with Washington.
“I went from Raleigh to Cali to Kansas,” Banks said. And to somehow wind up back in the same town as his old friend after all that?
“That’s crazy,” Banks said. “I remember when they did the NBA Draft Lottery, and I called him, like, ‘Man, do you know who got the first pick is the Washington Wizards?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘I’m ’bout to be there right with you, so we just been excited, been preparing for the upcoming seasons.'”
So when Wall decided to come to this week’s game, Banks figured he’d try to work in a tribute for his old friend. “We talked about it all week,” Banks said, still clearly euphoric after the play, “‘I’m gonna do the John Wall if I score,’ and it really happened.”
Tight end Fred Davis, a guy with experience doing end zone dances AND the John Wall dance, offered the following review of Banks’s performance. “He did it perfect,” Davis said. “He probably needed to do it a little bit longer so he could swag out, but he did that long run, he probably was tired.”
(Davis also wasn’t surprised to find out that Banks knew Wall. “He’s friends with everybody,” Davis said. “It’s weird. He knows a lot of people.”)
But, honestly, it wasn’t Davis’s review that I was most interested in. John Wall watched the game from a well-appointed suite in the stadium, but I caught up with him later, waiting by the Redskins buses with his brother and holding a Brandon Banks Redskins jersey, and asked him for his quick review of his buddy’s rendition of Wall’s dance.
“It was a good version,” Wall said, earnestly. “It means a lot to come here — me and my brother came and watched him for his first game — and even though it wasn’t the regular season, it’s the preseason, for him to get a touchdown and do my dance, it means a lot, and I thank him for that.”
And he seemed to enjoy the experience. “Yeah, man,” Wall said, “I’m gonna come to a lotta games.”
Banks, meanwhile, wasn’t ready to rest on his successes. “I still got work to do,” Banks said. “I wasn’t perfect tonight — I mean, I made one big play. I wanna make a couple more big plays and show the coaches that I can play on the offensive side of the ball.”
(And, lest you think that Banks is some kind of showboating glory-hound because of the dancing, here’s how he described that “one big play” after the fact: “I just ran. My job was easy. The other ten guys did their job and coach Danny Smith had a great scheme for us, so I just ran.”)
DC Sports Bog has the screencaps of Banks doing Wall’s dance.
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