CHARLOTTE -- Bradley Beal operated through the first two days of NBA All-Star weekend like he had been there before. With one year of the experience already under his belt, he didn’t miss a beat as he made a series of back-to-back event appearances on Friday and then did the fishbowl experience of All-Star media day on Saturday.
Beal kept it going for fans and for the cameras, smiling at kids and joking with their parents as autograph lines cycled through. He played along with quickfire media segments and countless one-on-one interviews.
This time, he knew what to expect, and that made it all much easier.
“I'm embracing it,” he said. “I feel more here, like I feel more like I belong in a way.”
Though it was nothing new for Beal, behind closed doors the moment hit him again, just like it did last year when he was a first-time All-Star. It happened while he was surrounded by his family.
“I was actually thinking about it with my brothers yesterday. I had a conversation with them. And I was just saying, it's so surreal just being here, being in the NBA, let alone being an All-Star. None of us would have dreamed that, of this happening, and it happening this fast in a way,” Beal said.
Only 25, Beal is still on the rise as a player as he represents the Wizards for the second time as an All-Star. Now in his seventh NBA season, he has followed a consistent trajectory to stardom.
Beal was a McDonald’s All-American, a standout at the University of Florida, the third overall pick in the draft and then a promising young NBA player before he became an All-Star. The steps along the way have always seemed expected to most outside observers because his talent has long been obvious.
But Beal feels like it wasn’t that long ago when even playing in the NBA seemed like a pipe dream.
“I grew up in St. Louis, went to high school, just hoping to get to college. My parents just wanted us all to get D-I scholarships. Sure enough, I made it to the NBA as a third pick, and here I am a two-time All Star. I never would have imagined that,” he said.
Beal has taken his game to another level after making the All-Star team last season. He is averaging career-highs of 25.1 points, 5.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds this season, having played in all of the Wizards’ 58 games.
He has emerged as one of the best shooting guards in the game. Ironically, one of the best shooting guards of all-time, Dwyane Wade, is playing in his final All-Star game.
"D-Wade, man. That's somebody I looked up to playing,” Beal said. “Man, it's going to be my honor for sure, to be able to step out there with him and play and just have some fun. I think it will be awesome."
With Wade exiting the game, Beal has a chance to be one of the best shooting guards of the next generation. Now a two-time All-Star, he is well on his way.
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