In every fairy tale, science fiction and comic book book troupe, transformations are what makes some of our favorite characters more intriguing.
Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde, David Banner turns into the Incredible Hulk and Clark Kent becomes Superman. Indeed, the idea that people can elevate themselves above and beyond what we're used to is tantalizing as theater. We are all in love with the very idea of becoming our best amid adversity.
But there is an opposite to that paradigm as well. Most of us recall from childhood that Cinderella turned back into a poor little stepsister at the strike of midnight.
Though John Wall's blinding speed is the stuff of legends, it would seem that midnight struck for him with about 19 minutes left in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when his jump shot turned into a pumpkin.
When he hit the game-winning three-point shot in Game 6 to push the Washington Wizards into a pivotal Game Seven matchup versus the Boston Celtics, it seemed like we were watching him transform before our very eyes. No longer would it be about potential in the future, it would be about rising to the challenge in the present.
The potential energy that was built up with years of repetition and determination would finally burst forth and manifest at just the right time. But sometimes, one's destiny isn't to explode and burn like that sun, but simply to spin large in the void. Not unlike Jupiter, beautiful to look at but inert relative to the brilliance of a star.
With 19 minutes remaining in last night's electric Game 7, as Boston and Washington fought valiantly for the chance to square off against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the defending world champion Cleveland Cavaliers, Wall had 18 points. But he wouldn't score another basket for the rest of the game.
He was 0-11 from the field, 0-7 from behind the arc down the stretch.
Wall's three-point shot is vastly improved. But seeing him attempt and miss seven of them in crunch time, some of which were ill-advised amid Boston's 15-2 run, it had become apparent that this was the last hooray for Wall and the Wizards.
Bradley Beal was en fuego the entire game.
You look at his 38 points on 12-of-21 shooting, the Wizards dominated the Celtics on the boards 43-31 and Wall's six fourth quarter assists, and most people would figure that to be a winning formula. But the Celtics decisive 58-40 advantage in the paint, and Kelly Olynyk's out-of-this-world 26-point explosion off the bench, told the tale. It's a sad one if you're a Washington Wizards fan.
Washington has not reached a conference final since 1979. It would seem that, as much as we marvel at how much John Wall's jump shot has improved this season, our true selves emerge.
For now, Wall's jump shot is a pumpkin, and neither he, nor his team, will be invited to King James' ball.