With John Wall, A.J. Price, Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker all sidelined by various injuries, the last thing the Wizards want or need at this stage is to see another player writhing in pain on the court. But that’s what happened with 5 minutes 29 seconds left in the third quarter of their 100-95 overtime loss to Atlanta on Tuesday.
As Hawks forward Josh Smith rejected Bradley Beal’s dunk attempt, the ball went off the side of the backboard and the Wizards’ rookie crashed to the floor. Beal landed on his tailbone and hit his head off the hardwood as well. (Check out video of the fall here.) He immediately left the game and went to the locker room to be evaluated by Wizards’ athletic training staff and undergo a concussion test.
After passing the test, Beal returned to the bench before the end of the third quarter and was back in the contest early on in the fourth. Beal said his lower back was sore but said he expects to play Wednesday in Orlando.
“I feel fine, my back’s tight but I don’t’ have a concussion, my head’s not hurting or anything like that. So that’s good,” Beal said. “I’m just banged up. I should be good to go tomorrow, though.”
It was a nasty fall but Beal’s determination to return to the game spoke to the rookie’s character, according to his coach and teammates.
“Heart,” Martell Webster said when asked what Beal’s return showed him about his young teammate. “He’s resilient. He wants to win and he’s determined. He could have easily just been like, ‘You know what I’m going to sit this one out.’ The kid wants to play he wants to be great and he will if he continues to have that mindset.”
Said Coach Randy Wittman: “It showed some moxie coming back from a fall like that. I think he banged his head pretty good. They brought him back to check for a concussion and make sure nothing like that transpired. I’m sure he’s going to be sore in the morning, saw he had heat packs on the bench on his back too. But he did, he came back and said he wanted to play.”
It was an easy decision for Beal, once he knew he had avoided a concussion.
“I was debating it but I didn’t have a concussion, that’s all I was really worried about,” Beal said. “I can play through pain in my leg or my back or anything like that. My first instinct [was if] I passed the test, then I go back out there and see how I feel. And if I feel fine I’ll just keep playing. I felt fine, only thing killing me was my back. But other than that I was fine.”