Bradley Beal on Criticizing Wizards: 'Not Like I'm S--tting on My Teammates'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2020

Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal meets with reporters outside the locker room after the team's NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Washington. The NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer have closed access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all non-essential personnel in response to the coronavirus crisis, the leagues announced in a joint statement Monday night. The Wizards won 122-115. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

Bradley Beal acknowledges he hasn't done everything right in a frustrating season for the Washington Wizards. That said, it doesn't sound like he regrets his occasional expressions of exasperation.  

"[In] those moments probably not be as—I won't say public—but open about it or visible with it,” Beal told Fred Katz of The Athletic. "Just kind of [keep it] in the locker room, behind closed doors. But at the same time, that obviously just shows my passion for the game, so it's not like I'm s--tting on my teammates or anything like that or my team. I just want more out of everybody. I want more out of myself. I want more out of us."

Beal ripped the Wizards' culture in January, saying the team didn't have "that winning attitude, winning habits" after a loss to the Chicago Bulls. The Wizards, unquestionably Beal's team for the first time in his career, were 24-40 when the NBA season was indefinitely postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“You more or less have to be more critical of yourself more than your team, because, at the end of the day, everybody kinda looks to you for advice or encouragement, confidence in a way," Beal said of the lessons he has learned this season.

Objective observers might point out that Beal brought the frustration on himself by agreeing to an extension with the Wizards. Many expected him to decline an extension and thereby push Washington to trade him to a contender. Beal, who was drafted third overall in 2012 by the Wizards, recently told ESPN's Zach Lowe that requesting a trade would have been "the easy way" out:

"Exactly what you just said, it was the easy way. Granted, it looks great, but who's to say it's a guarantee on the other side? For me, the whole summer last year, I kept playing Devil's Advocate on both sides. If I stay, what are the positives and negatives? If I leave, what are the positives and negatives? 

"Ultimately, I felt staying, the positives outweighed leaving. The reason being is because I had more control here. I have an organization who basically gave me the keys. We're gonna build around you, we're gonna get guys around. If I go anywhere else, granted, it may be a good team, but I would be a piece. Who knows if my role would be the same? My role here, I love what it is. I love [head coach Scott] Brooks, I love what we have. I love our young guys, and I think the fact that we have guys who are committed to getting better."

Beal was setting career highs in points (30.1) and assists (6.1) per game when the NBA season shut down after taking on a Herculean workload with star guard John Wall out with injuries. The on-court results weren't there, with the Wizards on the outside looking in to the playoff picture, but few now question his lead-dog status.

For Beal, it appears being the No. 1 option and team leader is his top priority over championship contention at the moment.