Wake-up call: Shift in Beal's philosophy on playing hurt

Wake-up call: Shift in Beal's philosophy on playing hurt
March 17, 2014, 6:00 am
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(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

In the short-term view, Bradley Beal knew he'd be OK playing on a sore right ankle less than 24 hours after rolling it and having to be carried off the court. But what about the bigger picture given his history with stress injuries in the same leg, the first one caused by playing through a right ankle sprain at the end of his rookie season? "I'm not worried about it," said Beal as he walked out of Verizon Center after playing 37 minutes Saturday.

Before this season began, Beal, who was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his lower right leg in April and couldn't partake in contact drills until late July, vowed to be wiser about pushing himself to play through injuries. This is what he told CSN Washington on Sept. 6: "Hopefully I can learn my lesson, stop being hard-headed and just sit down when I need to sit down and listen to older guys, know my body and hopefully this year I'll be injury-free."

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Beal had a second stress injury that was discovered in November which caused him to miss nine games. When he returned by mid-December, he played on a minutes restriction. So why is he chancing it now? The latest ankle sprain wasn't as severe as it looked when he was carried off the floor in overtime at the Orlando Magic on Friday. He could walk on it after the game and there wasn't much swelling the next morning. He figured he could push through it. 

By the time the Wizards play at the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, after two days off, Beal expects he'll almost be back to normal. The Wizards (35-31) are on the verge of something special by making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Besides, when Beal scored 15 points in Saturday's win vs. the Brooklyn Nets, he was able to drive, cut, push off and move laterally without difficulty. He made 6 of 14 shots, including his first two three-point tries.

"Sometimes I think about it," Beal said when asked of developing another stress injury, which is a precursor to a season-ending fracture. "It scares me a little bit. At the same time I have to have faith in myself. I've had ankle sprains when I was 7. I wouldn't dare let a sprain hold me out."