Who says NBA teammates need to be friends?
Not Bradley Beal or John Wall, that’s for sure.
During an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Chris Miller, which was relayed to us by his colleague J. Michael, Wall indicated that he and Beal are perpetually at odds while on the court:
“I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court. … We got to be able to put that to the side. If you miss somebody on one play or don’t have something go right … as long as you come to each other and talk. If I starting arguing with somebody I’m cool. I’m just playing basketball.”
“Now that you have your money you got to go out there and improve your game. I want you to be an All-Star just as much as I’m an All-Star. If we were playing well as a tandem like the other two superstars that play together as a backcourt, play as a tandem, one night it’s going to be his night, one night it’s going to be mine, some nights it might be both of us. Those are nights it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
Bradley Beal added to John Wall’s explanation:
“It’s tough because we’re both alphas. It’s always tough when you have two guys who firmly believe in themselves, who will bet on themselves against anybody else, who want to be that guy. We both can be that guy,” Beal said.
“Sometimes I think we both lose sight of the fact that we need each other. I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in without John. John wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in without me, without the rest of the team. It goes hand-in-hand so it’s kind of a pride thing. We got to (hash) out our pride, fiigure out what our goals are individually, help each other achieve those goals, figure out what our team goal is, where do we see ourselves five years from now, 10 years from now and go from there.”
Wall would also go on to say that Beal is “my sidekick,” and that “I’m A. He’s A-1. He’s right there.”
Butting heads on the court is an occupational hazard in the NBA. It happens. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook did it with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and they still contended for titles. Same goes for Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. They actually won championships.
The problem, though, is Beal and Wall are barely contending for playoff berths, let alone championships. And this rift clearly extends off the court. That makes them more like Kobe and Dwight Howard, circa 2012-13.
That’s far from OK, especially now that they are entering their fifth year as teammates, both of whom are on max-level deals. They need to find a way to coexist on the court, and it would be better for the Washington Wizards if they could also find a way to bond off it.
Yes, it’s true players don’t need to be best friends. Durant and Westbrook were never seemed to be besties even when they were on the best of terms. But, as two players within the same age bracket, there needs to be some profound relationship and understanding that transcends basketball. And yet, Beal and Wall cannot even figure out the basketball part.
On the flip side, the candor from both players must be appreciated. We pillory players for being robotic but lampoon them whenever they say anything controversial (not to be confused with offensive or derogatory). It’s probably a good sign that Beal and Wall can cop to their flaws. It means they are aware of them, and both seem even more aware that they need to fix them. Maybe new head coach Scott Brooks will be able to help them along.
Still, four years into their partnership, it’s unsettling to know that this is where they’re at—in need of help in this capacity at all.