WASHINGTON — Monday was Media Day for the 2016-17 Wizards, which meant the new head coach, the many new players and the several returning core pieces were put to the task of answering all the hot-button questions of the summer.
Chief among them: John Wall’s health after offseason knee surgery, the retooling of the bench, the addition of Czech prospect Tomas Satoransky, what the offense will look like, what the frontcourt rotation will look like and, above all, the status of the relationship between John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Wall and Beal were, of course, the subject of a bizarre report last month that suggested the two players were on bad terms with each other. In the report, Wall says he and Beal have “a tendency to dislike each other on the court,” and that Beal is his “sidekick.” On the other side of things, Beal says they’re both “alphas.”
The report also claimed the two players have had it out with each other several times and had to be separated, and many outlets have reported Wall as being upset with the money other players make.
On Monday, Wall, Beal and head coach Scott Brooks were asked about the status of the backcourt. If the two best players on the roster aren’t getting along, the season has the potential to go downhill rapidly, after all.
First, here’s Brooks on the Wall-Beal dynamic, or at least what he knows of it in his limited capacity as the new head coach:
“I haven’t paid much attention to it. Obviously I read about the situation with John and Bradley, the situation in the past. I haven’t approached either one of them about it. But I do know this — I’ve been around a lot of great teams as a player, I’ve been around a lot of great teams as a coach, as an assistant coach and as a head coach — if you have team that bickers with one another constantly, you don’t have a good team. If you have a team that never has any disagreements, you don’t have a good team. That means you don’t care.
But there’s a balance. There has to be a respect level. You will have disagreements with one another, and they will have disagreements with me. But we all have to understand that we have to do what’s right for the team. And you have to [have a] “check your ego at the front door” type of mentality. And not only with your best players, but every player on your team. Sacrificing is not just for the backups or the guys that don’t play, sacrificing is about the team, and all 15 guys have to sacrifice. And I don’t see a problem, and I look forward to working with the entire group.”
Now, here’s what Wall had to say about his relationship with Beal, who just signed a five-year max contract:
“We’re just two competitive people. So whenever you have your two best players, and they both want the game-winning shot and want those types of plays, you’re going to have disagreements on the court. But other than that, we’re fine. We talked about it, we’re both two grown men. Everybody wants us to dislike each other. We don’t dislike each other, just at times — any tandem that has great players, two great players that want to be great, we’re going to have disagreements from time to time. But other than that, we’re fine.”
Wall later added:
“People want to put words in your mouth and make it sound like it’s worse than what it was. We all knew Brad was gonna get paid a certain contract, and he deserved it. The same thing I did, when I got my contract, people said I didn’t deserve it. So we’ve just got to go and prove it. When he’s healthy, he’s proven that he can play in this league, he’s proven that he can be an All-Star, he can be one of the best two-way players. Other than that, we’re fine.”
Finally, Beal was asked how he would describe his relationship with Wall, long considered the franchise star:
“It’s great. (Beal responded immediately after the reporter had finished his question. He then paused for a few moments before continuing on.) How do you guys think it is? (Reporters laugh. He is asked to elaborate.) It’s great. I think what people get misconstrued is that we’re both competitors. I didn’t take what he said as 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’s most important, and I think we both realize that’s what’s important here. Us winning games, us being leaders of the team, us growing as a backcourt together. I’m going to be here for another five years, he’s going to be here for hopefully the rest of his career as well. We have a great system, a great team, our chemistry’s great. Me and John are fine, and we’re going to be in the rankings of the best backcourt again.”
(Beal is asked if his relationship with Wall is similar to the relationship he has with his brothers.)
“Yeah, for sure. That’s a great comparison. Sometimes you don’t always get along with your bigger brother or your little brother, but you love him at the end of the day, they’re family. That’s how John and I are. We don’t always agree on the court, you’re not always going to agree with Coach Brooks, something he says. But at the end of the day, we’re backcourt mates, we’re teammates, we’re the two leaders of this team and we’re gonna help win us games.”
In summation, it sounds like there was — and still might be — some discontent over how the late-game shots have been distributed in the past. Wall and Beal’s personal relationship is up for debate, but they certainly showed no ill will on Monday, smiling and looking generally carefree while posing for pictures.
Wall, especially, has never been scared to speak his mind. It sometimes leads to conflict or controversy — he expressed no regret over wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey to the Redskins-Cowboys game earlier this month — but it’s often blown out of proportion.
It sounds like the Wall-Beal “beef” is either over, overblown in the first place.