Wizards

Beal sees winning as final box to check in his NBA career

Wizards

WASHINGTON -- As he enters Year 11 of his NBA career, Bradley Beal declared himself "officially an O.G." at Wizards media day on Friday. He's only 29, still very young for real-life standards. But as an NBA player, he's been around long enough to where incoming rookies are a full decade younger than him. He is an elder statesman, a de facto leader with 10 years of experience to impart.

That was just one moment of acute self-awareness for Beal, who also summed up very succinctly where he is at in his career. Beal proclaimed he has one primary goal to achieve as he enters his second decade as an NBA player. 

He wants to win.

"My main focus is winning games and trying to help this organization hold up a Larry [O’Brien trophy] one day. That’s my goal. That’s my goal, that’s my dream," he explained.

"I’ve shown I can score with the best of them, I’ve shown I can be an All-Star, I’ve shown I can be an All-NBA player. I’ve checked every box. Now I have to win and be a winner. That’s my final box that I want to check and will check."

Beal re-signed with the Wizards this summer on a five-year supermax contract worth $251 million. While that decision was based on many factors, including the fact he could earn more money in Washington than elsewhere, Beal is hopeful in the organization's direction.

 

He has yet to play alongside Kristaps Porzingis, the team's prized trade deadline acquisition. Beal, Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma could help the Wizards orchestrate one of the league's more versatile offenses.

Beal, Porzingis and Kuzma are buoyed by a well-rounded supporting cast that includes veterans like Monte Morris, Will Barton and Delon Wright, plus ascending young players like Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford, Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert. The talent appears to be in place for them to make a run at the playoffs and, if they can get there, perhaps they can make some noise.

But whatever happens, however the rest of those players perform, Beal understands his responsibility in all of it carries significant weight. He is the face of the team and now one of the league's highest earners.

"Win, lose or draw; it will be my fault. It sure will. I’m okay with that. I’ve learned to accept that, I’m confident in that," Beal said. "I’d rather you guys blame me than blame anybody in that locker room. I’m at that point in my career, I’ve always been that way. It’s accepting that and, to me, it doesn’t bother me. It just doesn’t."

Beal has enjoyed some degree of playoff success in his career. He's been to the postseason five times in 10 years, has won a first round series three times and advanced through the play-in tournament once. 

Beal has yet to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, a place the Wizards as a franchise have not been since the 1970s, when they were known as the Bullets. It won't be easy getting there in an improved Eastern Conference, which last year required a winning record just to clinch a play-in seed.

Beal, though, is ready for the challenge.

"That’s my main focus. That’s what I want to prove, that I can win," he said.