Bradley Beal had his first taste of the NBA’s homage to opulence during All-Star Weekend in Houston, where he got to mingle with the game’s elite, personally see which celebrities are tall or short (R&B singer Trey Songz barely came up to his shoulder) and throw down a dunk after catching a between-the-legs pass from Ricky Rubio.
“You got to get at least one,” Beal said of his one-handed jam near the end of the first half of the Rising Star Challenge last Friday at Toyota Center. “That’s just fun and games. I had to get a dunk every now and then, that’s what everybody wanted to see.”
Beal scored 12 points with four assists and two steals to help Team Chuck rout Team Shaq, 163-135, in a game that probably wasn’t the best showcase for a player with his skill set. But he certainly didn’t appear completely out of place in the one-on-one, high-scoring affair as he connected on two three-pointers and added another highlight dunk.
“It was great,” Beal said. “It was a blessing and an honor and I’m definitely going to remember it forever. I had a lot of fun. That’s what all-star break is definitely all about. It’s great I had the opportunity to represent myself, my teammates and this whole organization. So overall, it was a great experience for me.”
Two days after his game, Beal hung around to watch the actual all-star game with his family, but he knew not to rush to the arena for the entire game. “I went to the third and fourth quarter. Nobody really watches the first half. I mean, it’s no defense. It was like our game,” Beal said of the contest, which the West won, 143-138. “Doesn’t get competitive until the end, which it did.”
Back at Verizon Center to get ready for the final 31 games of his rookie season, Beal was the last player to leave the court after a nearly two-hour practice. Coach Randy Wittman said he hopes the weekend will benefit Beal in the long-term.
“I think that’s always something that’s always good for a young kid. Even though it’s not the all-star game, you’re around it. You’re around the happenstance, the TV cameras and the media, and you get a taste of what being an all-star is,” he said. “I think it’s always good when you have a guy that participates in the activities of the weekend to give you a taste, give you something to shoot for, that ultimate prize of one day being named an all-star.”
For now, Beal just wants to help the Wizards finish strongly, regardless of his role. Beal scrimmaged with the starters during practice after coming off the bench in the final three games before the all-star break as he recuperated from a sprained right wrist that sidelined him for five games.
“Whatever coach decides to do. It’s his decision,” Beal said of starting. “I mean, we’ve been winning when I wasn’t starting, so either way it doesn’t really matter. As long as I’m making an impact and doing what I need to do on the floor, I really don’t have a problem.”
The Wizards (15-36) won four of their past five games as they prepare to host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and Beal said other players have taken note of their progress in recent weeks – especially since John Wall returned from a stress injury in his left knee.
“Everybody’s been saying, you guys are coming along. So everybody is starting to recognize what we’re capable of doing and what kind of team we are. It’s up to us. We dictate our future now and we just have to keep battling and keep competing in the end.”
Though he received some recognition last week in Houston, Beal believes he has a long way to go. He joked that no one seemed to notice him as he made his way through town.
“Nobody knows who I am. So I’m nobody important,” Beal said. “It was a few people [who recognized me] but not too many people. I just have to keep working to get my name known one day.”