Soon, after this morning's NBA Africa Game in Johannesburg wraps up, Bradley Beal will be heading back to prepare for his fourth season with the Wizards. That'll include a stop with USA Basketball in Las Vegas and a small workout group that'll include backcourt mate John Wall.
"I always told the league I would do something with Basketball Without Borders. When I have a free summer, an opportunity to do it, I would," Beal said via phone from South Africa, where the league will have its first organized game Saturday morning. "This was perfect. I'd never been to Africa before and this was such a great chance. There are other great players here and they're dedicating their time to be here as well. Why not me? ... I'm glad I did it. I'm enjoying every minute of it."
Beal's workout routine hasn't been interrupted. The facilities there are top notch. The exhibition game caps a week of camps as the NBA aims to expand the game globally. It already has grown deep roots in China.
"It's been a humbling experience. ... They look up to us. They're appreciative of everything we do," Beal said of his experience in Africa. "They're appreciative of who we are and the fact that we play basketball. ... Seeing all the neighborhoods and the communities that these people are raised in, seeing where they come from, how they still have positive attitudes, they're still smiling. They're still living their everyday lives."
Beal is joined by the likes of Chris Paul, Trey Burke, Nik Vucevic and other NBAers with ties to the continent such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother Thanasis, Luol Deng and Bismack Biyombo.
His offseason priorities typically include strengthening his legs to prevent a fourth stress reaction in his lower right one. And now without Paul Pierce, who left as a free agent for the Los Angeles Clippers, the responsibility of leadership shifts mostly onto the shoulders of the starting backcourt.
"It's a business at the end of the day. I can't be sad, can't be mad. He's a grown man," Beal said of Pierce's departure after a somewhat magical one-year run. "He can make the best decision for himself and his family. You have to respect that. I wish the best for him but whenever we compete we'll try to beat him. When he left it was sad because he was a big piece to our team but now we just have to rely on Otto (Porter) and Alan (Anderson) and Kelly (Oubre) to step up and Martell (Webster) as well to help us out.
"I'm going back to D.C. to work out for about a week, going to Vegas for USA (Basketball) for a few days. A few of us going to work out together, probably together go meet up somewhere as a team and then after that the season will be rolling around that time."
Wall and Beal haven't always performed like an elite tandem. But during their 10-game playoff run in which both were spectacular, they're on the right path. Summit meetings between them have taken place before but this appears to be their most significant step yet.
"It was me and John's idea. We figure at some point in the offseason we all need to get together, make sure we're staying together, and push each other to continue to improve our games," Beal said. "We have a great system. We have a great core. We have a bunch of young guys. It's good for us to get to know each other a little better off the floor and continue to work."