The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Bradley Beal recruits pandas to help his All-Star Game cause

Bradley Beal will probably jump for joy again if he gets more all-star votes. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

MEMPHIS — If all-star voting included pandas, then Bradley Beal would certainly be on his way to the glamour game.

One day after the first returns of the 2018 all-star voting by fans revealed how the Washington Wizards’ backcourt trails in the flawed popularity contest, Beal and his management team released the first promotional video to increase his chances of becoming a first-time all-star.

“They wanted to really incorporate me pushing my all-star votes or whatever but I’m not really big on that,” Beal said about the video that plays off his nickname. In 2014, teammates began calling him the ‘Big Panda’ because of his voracious appetite.

“They threw out an idea: ‘What if we do it with the pandas and kind of incorporate it with that?’” Beal continued. “And I was like, that would be pretty cool.”

The push for support comes after Beal received 71,079 fan votes. Although Beal ranks third among all Eastern Conference guards with a 23.4 scoring average, he’s ninth on the all-star ladder even behind Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas (who has played 19 minutes all season) and Dwyane Wade (who’s averaging 11.1 points while coming off the bench).

Wall, a four-time all-star, collected 175,990 votes — enough for fifth among the conference guards but nowhere close to leading vote-getter, Boston’s Kyrie Irving, who has more than 802,000.

When asked for his thoughts on the first returns, Beal gave a knowing smile.

“Fans vote for their favorite players regardless of what type a year a guy may be having,” Beal said. “It’s like a big popularity contest at the end of the day, which is why sometimes I don’t necessarily agree with the fan vote all of the time because it’s a little crazy how the numbers are. But at the end of the day, I always feel like if you just continue to put your work in on the court, you’ll get rewarded one way or another. I don’t pay attention to it. I don’t go out and think about it. When I seen it the other day, I just kind of ignored it. I didn’t expect it to be any different, honestly.”

Wall was voted in by fans in 2015 but every other year gained his all-star status from coaches. The fan vote accounts for 50 percent, while media and current players split the remaining 50 percent of the vote. However, the seven reserves are selected by coaches and if Beal and Wall both make the 2018 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, it will because they’ve earned respect from opposing coaches.

“That means they’ve got a lot of respect for guys. They know how much [they have] got to game plan for you,” Wall said. “Not saying those guys that get voted in by the fans wouldn’t get put in by the coaches because they’re just as talented. It’s just they have the popularity votes and they can get the coaches’ vote, so they kind of already win with the popularity part.”

But while the fan segment of the voting continues, Beal’s team wants to make his case go viral with the help of cute animals.

Beal’s video shows several pandas sitting around, eating bamboo shoots and talking about the All-Star Game. “Murray” and “Ralph” vow “panda power” in support of Beal and encourage others to go to to cast their votes. Beal said he approved of the idea after previewing the clip.

“It was actually kind of funny,” Beal said. “It was corny but it was funny at the same time.”