We all know the story. Nine months ago John Wall told CSN’s Chris Miller that he and Bradley Beal “have a tendency to dislike each other on the court.” From there, multiple media outlets, who probably have never interacted with either Wall or Beal, went to blow things completely out of proportion to use Wall’s own words with the following headlines to pick a few.
“John Wall and Bradley Beal apparently don’t get along very well on the court” – For The Win
“John Wall and Bradley Beal Don’t Like Each Other, and the Wizards Are Screwed” – The Big Lead
“It’s bickering, not beef, but John Wall and Bradley Beal still need to figure it out” – Washington Post
A month later, here were the responses from Wall and Beal themselves trying to clear up the situation at the team’s Media Day.
“We [are] just two competitive people,” Wall said in addressing his so-called dislike for Beal. “Whenever you have your two best players and they both want those game-winning shot and those type of plays, you are going to have disagreements on the court. But other than that, we’re fine. We talked about it and we both two grown men. We don’t dislike each other, it’s just at times any tandem that has great players and two great players that want to be great we going to have disagreements from time to time. But other than that, we’re fine.”
“It’s great,” Beal replied instantly when asked of his relationship with Wall. “How do you think it is?” Beal retorted to laughs from the media. “It’s great, I think what people gets misconstrued is we are both competitors and I didn’t take what he said as a backlash or a sign of him taking a shot at me. We’re both competitors, we both love to compete, we both want to win. That’s what is most important and I think we both realize that.” Beal said comparing Wall to his brothers is a great analogy.
As someone that has covered the duo for a third season now, I never thought of the comments as anything more than a couple of basketball players that want to win so badly that they want perfection from one another.
Even the always quotable Jared Dudley, who was Wall and Beal’s teammate last season, made things clear when Phoenix visited the Nation’s Capital in November: “I think it’s a working relationship in the sense of, when they’re on the court, they have a respect,” Dudley said. “But, it’s difficult when you have two stars both trying to come into their prime. Obviously, John’s ahead of the curve when he’s already been an All-Star. Brad is trying to develop his game. For him to develop his game, he needs to be more of a ball-handler, more of a play-maker and that takes a little away from John. I don’t think it’s to where, ‘I’m better than you,’ I don’t think it’s as negative as people think like that. I think it’s a mutual respect where you have two young guys trying grow at the same time. Sometimes, you’ll butt heads, but overall, we gambled when we played together, we went to dinner together, so it’s not hate or any animosity.”
After less than four months around the duo, Brandon Jennings also had a realistic take on the supposed rift that was hyperbolized last summer: “They had great chemistry,” Jennings said about Wall and Beal’s dynamic. “There was no beef at all. I think that’s just people making up rumors and things like that. They are arguably one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Their future is real bright together.”
When Washington started 2-8 and 7-13 on the season, click-baiting writers were licking their chops at the potential narrative of the Wizards need to blow it all up because Wall and Beal cannot play together, but now reflecting back, it may have played a role in both attaining career-high seasons.
“I think everyone blew it out of proportion of what I said,” Wall reiterated about his supposed dislike of Bradley Beal during End of the Year exit interviews. “I think it motived him [Beal]. It didn’t do anything but make our friendship and brotherhood become even more tighter. And look at the season he had, should have been an All-Star. He’s proven himself. He’s proven to everybody that he’s earned his money. Same thing I went through.”
In ignorant voice of click-bait writers that have never interacted with either Wall or Beal: “But wait, how could Wall say something nice about Beal if they hate each other?!?!”
Back to my rational train of thought, Beal also shared a realistic point of view on the situation an NBA season later that will hopefully put to bed any foolish talk in the future.
“It’s gotten better. It’s gotten better and better,” Beal said. “Ever since people thought we didn’t like each other. We’re constantly getting better with being leaders. We are doing a better job of holding each other accountable. Our relationship is constantly growing and it’s going to constantly get better because we are true competitors, we love to win, we want to be the best, we hold each other accountable at our position. I think that is what is so great about us. From the outside looking in, sometimes it can look ugly, but we’re brothers at the end of the day. We’re going to push each other, compete, and just get the best out of each other.”
And if all that isn’t enough to prove Wall and Beal are just fine, let me remind you of the most adorable postgame presser of the playoffs this year: