Only he isn’t this season. Beal was not named to the all-star reserves, the seven players from each conference voted by the coaches, and missed the cut for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
Beal was not in the mood to talk about after the game, leaving the locker room before the doors were opened to media. He instead shared his feelings about the snub during an on-court interview with NBC Washington’s Chris Miller.
“I’m a little pissed about it, but I know how I am,” Beal said. “I was kind of expecting it, honestly. It’s disrespectful, but the real ones know, so I’m just going to keep competing and I’m going to try to get my team to the playoffs.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Beal is the first player in 41 years to average at least 28.6 points and not make the all-star team. Beal still has a chance to be named as an injury replacement if any of the 12 Eastern Conference all-stars cannot participate.
In the locker room, Beal’s teammates championed his cause.
“Hands down, 100 percent,” Thomas Bryant said, sharing his belief that Beal should have been an all-star. “I feel like a lot of people feel that way. I definitely feel that way. It’s just not right.”
In a forgettable matchup between teams occupying the 11th and 12th spots in the Eastern Conference, Beal played like a man fueled by anger. Late in the fourth quarter, he drilled a three-pointer and then demonstratively talked trash, getting slapped with a technical.
Beal earned 15 trips to the foul line (making 14) and made 6 of 12 attempts from beyond the arc. But since the Wizards (16-31) remain on a pace to be one of the worst defensive teams of the past 50 years, his pursuit of individual greatness can get overlooked.
“He’s played like he has all year. Even though they didn’t name him an all-star, he’s an all-star,” Isaiah Thomas said. “It’s so political. NBA picks who they want, and that’s just how it’s going to be. We have no [national] TV games. All-stars, they always talk about on winning teams, but you pick and choose who you want on the losing team. It’s like, pick a side. It’s frustrating.”
Beal’s rejection resounded on social media, as well as inside the Wizards’ locker room.
Moments after the team walked off the floor trailing Charlotte (16-32) at halftime 60-55, Jordan McRae retweeted former teammate Bobby Portis’s disbelief that Beal, among other players, was left off the list. McRae, who missed Thursday’s game with a sprained right ankle, added his own thoughts: “Man what we doing.”
The halftime score might have illustrated why coaches did not cast their vote for Beal. He had 25 of his team’s 55 points, scored mostly by aggressively creating 12 free throw attempts, as well as four of the Wizards’ nine assists. And yet his team still trailed.
As has been the season’s trend, Beal’s individual numbers were overshadowed by Washington’s poor defense.
In the third quarter, Beal scored only four points and left the court after a play in which he did not cross the half-court line and walked with a slight hobble. But as Beal focused on facilitating, the Wizards outscored Charlotte 31-19 and started rolling. When Beal returned in the fourth quarter, Washington had opened a 98-89 lead with 8:07 remaining and cruised to the win.
Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said the coaches’ ballot missed the mark and disregarded Beal’s commitment to the Wizards.
“It’s just wrong. I think the coaches have sent a horrible message,” Bartelstein said. “He could’ve made the choice to be a bandwagon jumper and just go on and join a higher-level team and he would’ve been guaranteed in the All-Star Game. But he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to be loyal to his organization and the coaches in the NBA are holding it against Brad that he was loyal to his organization.”
Before the game, when Beal’s selection appeared all but certain in the biased but informed view of the Wizards, Coach Scott Brooks repeated some previous praise about his player. Beal has faced double-teams defenses all season, Brooks said. Despite the additional pressure, Brooks argued, Beal’s game has elevated. On his own ballot, Brooks said he spent an adequate amount of time trying to figure out the right seven players. He fully expected his peers to do the same and vote for Beal.
“I don’t think I have to defend that he’s an all-star,” Brooks said Thursday night. “I know, and I think the coaches know, and I know the players definitely know.”
Maybe the coaches didn’t know. In their view, Beal’s numbers did not matter.
“If you look at what he’s done for this program, look what he’s done for his teammates,” Bryant said, “his hard work, his play day in and out . . . he should be a shoo-in. It’s just not right.”