John Wall isn’t buying this business about certain members of the Washington Wizards not liking him or Bradley Beal.
Okay, well, he’s at least not buying that he’s disliked in the locker room.
From The Washington Post‘s Candace Buckner:
“I’ve never had a teammate say he didn’t like me. If it’s true, nobody would be man enough to say it to me so I don’t believe it,” Wall responded Wednesday. “I think I’m a great teammate. I don’t let that affect me. I probably could’ve used a better word than ‘little midget.’ I could’ve called him a ‘little guy.’ ”
Wall was responding to comments made by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who alleged that some of the Wizards’ players weren’t thrilled with either member of their All-Star Weekend-bound backcourt. Here’s what the First Take-r said, again per Buckner:
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith piled on, publicly proclaiming this week that teammates have allegedly taken issue with both Wall and Beal, saying, “The word out about these two is they’re all about self, they’re not about the team, they want to be leaders, but at the end of the day they don’t want to lead. They want to point the fingers at everybody but themselves.”
A few Wizards have since come out in defense of Wall and Beal, including Markieff Morris and Otto Porter. And nothing about this should surprise us.
The Wizards’ chemistry has been an easy target for more than two seasons. The relationship between Beal and Wall themselves has been criticized. Wall openly pined for Paul George over the summer at the expense of Porter. Things are always happening with this team.
Some of the issue are real—and players within the locker room will admit as much. But the Wizards are also low-hanging fruit right now. They’re barely hanging onto fifth place in the Eastern Conference when they were supposed to be hunting the No. 2 seed, and they don’t rank in the top 10 of either offensive or defensive efficiency. Given the amount of time their core has now spent together, the Wizards’ shouldn’t still be searching for an identity. And yet, here they are, still looking for one—both on and off the court.