Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. The attention. The adulation. Even the criticism when expectations aren't quickly met.
It's all part of the burden of being the No. 1 overall selection in the NBA Draft.
As John Wall prepares to begin his pro basketball journey for the Washington Wizards, he'll be taking baby steps at the NBA Summer League with his eyes wide open and adrenaline coursing through his veins.
"It's going to be great," said Wall, who will debut for the Wizards at 5 p.m. today against the Golden State Warriors at Cox Pavilion. "I'm sure there are going to be a lot of butterflies, but I just want to go out and play and run the team."
The former Kentucky point guard is being asked to be the face of a franchise in transition, with the Wizards trying to forget the Gilbert Arenas gun incident of last winter. Team president Ernie Grunfeld is attempting to change the culture, and adding Wall was the first big step in doing that.
"We needed to create a new environment," Grunfeld said. "This is a process that started in the middle of last year. The team had gotten stale. We were fortunate to land the No. 1 pick, and we think in John we have someone who will represent the Wizards in a first-class manner, both on and off the court.
"He's a mature young man who's focused. He knows what he wants for his career."
In a town that lives and dies with the NFL's Redskins, which has a hockey superstar in the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin and has one of baseball's top drawing cards in pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, also a No. 1 overall draft pick, the Wizards are hoping Wall can make them relevant again -- not just in the NBA but in Washington, where competition for the sports fans' dollar has increased dramatically.
Bring on the expectations, Wall said.
"I understand what it means to be the top pick. There's a lot of expectations placed on you," he said. "But I'm excited to be (in Washington). The people have been great to me. I've enjoyed the experience so far."
Regarding expectations of himself this week in Las Vegas, the 6-foot-4-inch Wall said his plans are to keep things as simple as possible.
"Basically, I want to play my game, get to know my teammates and learn the system," he said. "It's like what I went through in college -- I was a freshman who was coming into a new system with a new coach and new teammates.
"I think it might be a little easier this time because this is my job now. It's just basketball."
Grunfeld said the Wizards' expectations for Wall this week are low-key, particularly for a No. 1 overall pick.
"This is his first taste of NBA-caliber basketball," Grunfeld said. "It's going to be a new experience for him. It's probably going to be a little quicker than what he's used to.
"We just want to see him compete, play with energy and learn. We want him to lead the team the way he knows how."
Wall, a first-team All-American and national Freshman of the Year, averaged 16.6 points and 6.5 assists in his only season at Kentucky. He played in plenty of big games last season, so he doesn't figure to be awed by the NBA, especially in meaningless Summer League games.
"It's going to be fun," he said. "They always get nice crowds in Vegas, and you always like having people in the stands there to watch you play. It makes it a little more exciting."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913.