Left ankle uncovered and slightly swollen, Bradley Beal was still in his game uniform when he moved through the locker room on crutches immediately after the Wizards’ 90-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Beal later limped out of the shower in flip-flops, applying a little pressure to the same ankle forced an entire arena to take pause with 2 minutes 8 seconds remaining on Sunday at Verizon Center. The ginger stroll to his locker-room stall was an encouraging sight for anyone who watched Beal get carried off the court – right leg hanging on Chris Singleton’s right arm, left leg hanging on Jan Vesely’s left arm – to the locker room.
The Wizards couldn’t provide much more information other than revealing that Beal will be day-to-day after suffering a sprained left ankle and would be re-examined on Monday. Beal added that X-rays came up negative on the ankle, but he might not know how he really feels until he wakes up in the morning to see how much it swells.
Either way, he didn’t sound too worried.
“I’m grateful it wasn’t my knee. I still felt bad,” said Beal, who sprained his right ankle during training camp and now has two damaged limbs. “I have all types of ankle sprains. I had one almost every other game. It’s something I just have to keep working on, keep strengthening. I honestly thought it was more serious that it was.”
With the Wizards trailing the 76ers by one late, Beal chased Jrue Holiday along the baseline and jumped to contest a shot but held up once he saw Holiday drop the ball in Thaddeus Young’s lap. Looking back at Holiday, Beal didn’t pay attention to how he was about to land and his left ankle nearly twisted in a 90-degree angle and he braced his fall with both hands.
“I just jumped in the air and came down on my own. Ended up rolling it,” he said.
Beal’s older brothers, Brandon and Bruce, were seated nearby and immediately looked on, pained and stunned. Their younger brother rolled over and couldn’t stand on his feet. They waited out front of the locker room, fretting over the results.
“When he’s laying there, you don’t know what it is. You think the worst,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “To find out it was his ankle was a good relief and the doctor says it doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary. So let’s hope for that… It’ll be a relief when I know how long he’ll be missing. I don’t want him to miss anything.”
Beal didn’t miss the finish as he watched John Wall lead the team to the win by scoring the final six points of the game and adding a game-saving block for good measure. “It was great, just shows we came a long way. Guys did a great job of sticking with it,” he said. “My hat’s out to my teammates for grinding it out until the end.”
After discovering that it likely wouldn’t be a debilitating injury, Beal’s teammates still found a way to make light of the incident. Forward Kevin Seraphin accompanied Beal as he hobbled to his locker room stall, telling him, “There is no crying on the court.”
Beal was relieved to hear the diagnosis after scoring 14 points and finishing in double figures for the ninth consecutive game; his longest stretch of the season. He added two more three-pointers to his Wizards rookie record total – including an incredible shot-clock beating, desperation shot from 32 feet – and was aggressively attacked the basket as he finished 6 of 12 from the field.
“He is a tough cover for any defensive player,” said Philadelphia Coach Doug Collins, who mistakenly referred to Beal as “Jeremy” when he spotted him moving around on crutches afterward. “I really hope the best for that kid, and I hope his injury isn’t too awful. Beal is an incredible young player. We should all pray for that young kid.”
Beal was asked if he planned on using crutches and he replied, “You know me, I probably won’t use them, but if it helps with me healing, I’ll definitely have to use them.”
He clearly wants to heal quicker, because after Beal put on his sweatshirt, he left the locker room with the help of those crutches.