While John Wall was waiting nearly two calendar years to return to the floor, Bradley Beal was waiting himself. He was looking forward to reuniting with his longtime teammate whom had been with him through eight years of ups and downs.
It was genuine, too, as Beal insists. While much was made over the years about their supposedly frayed relationship, and there is no question it was tested at times, Beal took time on Friday to reflect on his partnership with Wall and how close they became throughout all of it.
"It’s definitely a tough situation because John is a brother and our relationship goes far beyond basketball. That’s what is so tough about it. We’ve developed a bond since I was in high school. We’ve had great years together," Beal said.
"John left a tremendous impact on the city of D.C., he left a tremendous impact on my family. Our brotherhood continues... It has been an emotional week just letting it all seep in and realizing your brother is no longer with you here."
The bond between the two was strengthened while Wall was out rehabbing from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Wall's mother passed away in December of 2019 and Beal was one of the first to arrive at his hotel room in Charlotte, NC to console him. Wall also later spoke of Beal's emotions at the funeral and how seeing that impacted their friendship.
Throughout the years, there was constant speculation about whether they liked each other. Various reports suggested they couldn't coexist because their egos clashed.
Beal decided to bring that up himself despite not being asked by a reporter.
"A lot of people tried to break us apart, a lot of people tried to pull us apart and put us against each other. It was always crazy because whenever we came together and had those conversations, it was the total opposite. The rumors and the noise, it was the total opposite," he said.
The trade went down on Wednesday night, and on Thursday morning, Wall arrived at the Wizards practice facility to see his longtime friends and colleagues before departing for Houston. He and Beal shared an emotional exchange, though Beal said they have also been talking on the phone in recent days.
Making the effort in person, though, really stood out to Beal.
"It spoke volumes to who John is as a person to come back and say goodbye to everybody. I’ve never seen, not many players do that ever," he said.
Minutes after Beal spoke to the media, the first half of the Wizards' 2020-21 regular season schedule was released. As NBC Sports Washington initially reported, the Wizards will see the Rockets on Jan. 26 in Houston.
That will be the first time Wall and Beal have ever played against each other in an NBA game. Beal can already tell that will be a strange night.
"I honestly don’t know because my whole career, all I know is John. Today [at practice] was definitely weird. It will be different, it will be competitive, I know for sure," Beal said.
"He will probably be trying to give us 60. We’re going to do everything in our power to keep that from happening. It will be love. I’m sure it will be emotional on both sides. He’s a competitor. He’s going to come out and compete with the best of them. He’s going to treat it like going against me in practice, so it won’t be too different."