Wizards

Beal describes returning from COVID protocol: 'It was weird'

Wizards

Bradley Beal likely thought nothing of it at the time. After his Wizards lost to the Celtics on Friday night, he walked to midcourt to see his good friend Jayson Tatum, whom he grew up with and remains very close with today. They smiled and talked and then went their separate ways, only to find out the next day Tatum had tested positive for the coronavirus and Beal would be required to leave his team to quarantine.

Beal missed one game before getting cleared by negative tests and was back on Monday night against the Phoenix Suns. He poured in 34 points with nine assists and eight rebounds to lead the Wizards to victory.

Afterward, he was seen wearing a mask once the final buzzer went off. Lesson learned.

"It was weird," Beal said of his time off due to the league's protocol. "Last couple of days, 48 hours, was crazy. Having to stay away from everybody and quarantine with myself the last couple of days. The positive is I've been testing negative, so that's a good thing."

Beal said he's been taking an extra test a day since news of Tatum's diagnosis came out. One of the more annoying parts of the constant testing, Beal says, is having to show up early for everything to be swabbed. Sometimes that means waking up early after a late game.

But he also understands that is an important part of the process. And recent news of two NBA games being postponed already this week has given him perspective.

 

"It is getting scarier with games getting postponed and teams not being able to play," Beal said.

"It's what we agreed to do at the beginning of the year. We've gotta go out and get it done. I'm not sure if the league or the [players assocation] will come together and figure out a different method or go to a bubble or whatever the case may be. We haven't heard anything."

Beal has been up-to-date on a lot of the league's protocols as the Wizards' representative for the NBA Players Association. But as he alluded to, those protocols are continuing to change. Now there is talk of more stringent guidelines being released, including ones that regulate fraternizing with other players after games. That would be a direct result of the Beal-Tatum incident.

The Wizards are now 11 games into their 72-game regular season. The league is trying to pull all of this off outside of a bubble after their experience in Orlando last year was successful, but also a mental and emotional drain on the players who had extended stays.

They want to play the games and be able to go home to their families at night. To do so, it's not going to be easy, as Beal found out firsthand over the weekend.

"You just have to stay positive. It can get frustrating, it can get annoying," he said. "We're trying to keep guys safe. That's priority No. 1."

Tune in at 6 PM to NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday for complete coverage of the Wizards' next matchup with the Utah Jazz.