On Tuesday, in the aftermath of the team’s private instability coming to light, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall reiterated his desire to stay put while fellow all-star Bradley Beal indicated his hope to move on from last week’s fiery practice.
Key Wizards players, as well as Coach Scott Brooks, separately addressed reporters following the team’s shoot-around in preparation to play the red-hot Los Angeles Clippers. With the unearthing of details of a Thursday practice — which included Wall being disciplined by the team for shouting an expletive at his head coach and Beal venting his frustration over the team’s 5-11 start as well as seven years of inconsistency — each individual shared his perspective and summed up the session in the past tense.
“It’s something we’ve put past us,” Wall said. “We talked about it, apologized about it, kept it at that.”
Beal added: “What happened in practice happened in practice. Practice is closed. Practice is not a public thing. It got heated, you guys know that. Practice, I mean it’s happened in this organization and every organization around the league. High school, college, it happens. It is what it is.”
In particular, Beal, who according to multiple sources expressed at the practice that he’s “sick of this s---" and later gestured at team President Ernie Grunfeld that it “starts at the top,” was asked about the team’s culture.
“What do I make of it?” Beal said, repeating the question.
“I feel like our culture is what we created it to be," Beal said, then referred to Grunfeld. "He basically tore the team apart and created a new team, starting with John as the foundation and we created it into what we are now. We’re a team that’s a playoff team. You know, but we’ve struggled. We’ve had our fair share of struggles. I wouldn’t say we’re a team that’s not in unison. I wouldn’t say that we’re a team that hates each other. I say it every game, we’re in the locker room, it’s positive energy. It’s not like I hate the next man and the next man hates that man. It’s none of that. It’s just figuring it out on the floor. We just can’t seem to put it together right now. "
When asked if he understood where Beal was coming from with his comments during the practice, Wall would not want to speak on another player’s experience.
“I just try not to focus on that. All I can do is focus on trying to be the leader of this team, the basketball player, and the franchise guy I can be. I can’t really focus on what anybody else says or what opinions they have, or what they feel like they’ve been dealing with,” said Wall, 28, who has been with the team the longest and signed a hefty extension two summers ago that could keep him in Washington through 2023.
“I’ve been fine. If I felt like that, I would have been said something about it, to be honest,” he continued. “I love being a Wizard. I’ve been here for nine years. It’s where I want to finish my career. I don’t have anything to that aspect.”
Brooks, who usually does not talk the morning of a home game, took the rare step of addressing reporters following the shoot-around and shouldered much of the blame for the poor start.
“I haven’t done my job as well as I know I need to do. As a team, we haven’t played as well as we would like to do. As individuals, we haven’t played as well as we are capable of playing. So, that all comes together. And I get that. As the coach of this team, when the teams don’t play as well as they are capable of playing, it should always come down to me, and I accept that responsibility,” Brooks said. “We haven’t had the start. It’s on all of us. It’s on me. And I have to do a better job of making sure that we play with proper intensity that it takes to win in this league.”