Bucher: Wiz handled Beal right
Bradley Beal walks just fine even though his season is over because of a stress injury to his right fibula, and the rookie shooting guard wasn't in too much pain to talk Friday.
Looking back, should he have tried to play through injuries to both ankles?
"Should I have?" Beal said rhetorically. "No. But I was going to play regardless because I'm a hard-headed kid. That's just how I am. I'm always competitive. I always want to play."
Beal's season ended Tuesday in an 90-86 win vs. the Chicago Bulls, when he fell hard to the floor and hurt his leg. He had just returned from a left ankle sprain that forced him to miss 11 games. Before that injury, he had a high right ankle sprain that he played through that didn't force him to miss action.
"I was glad that it was nothing too serious but I'm still upset by the fact that I can't play. ... I had a feeling it really wasn't my ankle. It ended up being my fibula, but I'm glad its a stress reaction rather than a fracture or possibly broken.
"It's nothing too painful. I can walk around, as long as I'm not running or jumping."
The injury won’t require surgery and he can return in about six weeks to basketball activities. Immediately after the Bulls game, Beal knew he'd be on the shelf for the rest of the season even though he hadn't gotten an MRI.
"I think I knew because it's been heckling me all year," he said. "That was the worst it ever felt honestly, and there was no point in me continuing to pound it and pound it and making it worse."
As the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft, Beal started slow but quickly acclimated to the NBA. In 56 games, he averaged 13.9 points, 3.8 assists, 2.4 rebounds and shot 38.6% from three-point range. He started 46, but the he never played this much basketball in a season.
Beal, 19, only played one season at Florida where he started in all 37 games.
In the NBA, Beal has taken his lumps in the 82-game season.
Going into Saturday’s game vs. the Indiana Pacers, Beal has missed 19 games with injuries that include a right wrist sprain and a sore back. It’ll be 26 when the season is done.
"I think it's more than that," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who played in the NBA from 1983-92. "The main thing is the speed of the game is so different. ... For young kids coming into this league it's the competition every night, no matter if you're playing the team that's the best in the league or the team that's worst in the league. The competition, you just can't fathom it. The speed of the game will always be the biggest thing for kids coming up to our level. Even for me, 30 years ago, it was the biggest thing."
"You don't realize how long it is and how quick it is at the same time," he said. "It's so many games back-to-back. It's 82 at that. ... You can tell how weary it (makes) your body. It's definitely the biggest transition any rookie will have to face. And the traveling on top of that."
CSN Washington first reported that Beal had a high right ankle sprain March 5, two days after he injured the left one in the fourth quarter of a game vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. CSN also first reported Wednesday through a person with knowledge of the situation that Beal's fibula injury was the result of playing on a bad right ankle.
Beal confirmed that Friday, too.
"It's been back and forth, on and on through the whole year," Beal said of his right ankle sprain. "It was (connected). ... I got several MRIs earlier in the year and it wasn't really showing up the way it did now.
"My ankles were fine. I've been spraining my ankles since I was a little kid. ... Pushing through those I would say probably is what caused me to shift the balance to the other leg and it stressed more than the other one."