Washington Wizards co-stars and backcourt mates Bradley Beal and John Wall entered into the sports headlines this week when Wall revealed to media outlets that he and Beal “have a tendency to dislike each other” while they’re competing on the court. A recent interview with CSN Mid Atlantic revealed that the league’s most expensive backcourt (both players are signed to max contracts) might have some serious issues. Both Wall and Beal have downplayed media overreaction but is there truly something brewing? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this important question.
Washington Wizards co-stars and backcourt mates John Wall and Bradley Beal . (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
Riley: Cohesion matters in the NBA. You can look at last season’s two finalists in the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers and see two teams that absolutely loved one another. It doesn’t matter if Beal and Wall are bickering on court or off court, neither scenario is good for the Wizards. You can’t have your two best and highest-paid players snapping at each other in any fashion. Washington is trying to reestablish itself as a perennial powerhouse inside the NBA Eastern Conference and player development will be key. Whatever unresolved issues the two costars have will need to be resolved if Washington expects to make any noise this season.
Green: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen didn’t always see eye-to-eye. Shaq and Kobe practically hated each other; members of the 2007 championship Boston team didn’t always play nice. And, even the 2016 NBA champion Cavs had three stars in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who had their fair share of hostility. In-house feuds can be media gold but the reality is if the team is talented then everybody doesn’t have to love each other. Even former 76ers legend Allen Iverson and then-head coach Larry Brown argued and fussed at each other all the way to the 2001 Finals before they succumbed to the even more dysfunctional Los Angeles Lakers. It’s funny how we haven’t seen eye-opening evidence of Beal and Wall’s disdain for one another in prior seasons, but now there’s some huge issue that has emerged between the two as we approach the middle of the NBA offseason. Nothing to see here.
Riley: While there have been some troublesome pairings that have achieved great accolades, that’s not the rule by any means. Any coach or player would rather be part of a team that’s getting along well rather than the opposite. Washington was shunned in its two-year plan to snag Kevin Durant. So, if the team is going to be any better than its 41-41 record from last season then self improvement is going to be key, which is why player developer extraordinaire Scott Brooks was brought in. But while Wall and Beal can improve individually, it’ll all be for nought if they don’t make each other better.
Green: Washington’s chances in the East rest more on General Manager Ernie Grunfeld’s shoulders rather then the improvement of Wall and Beal. Washington’s backcourt might be at each other’s throats, but the real problem in D.C. sits in the front office. Critics will point to recent reports surrounding Wall and Beal as to why the team hasn’t had overwhelming success, but even before the Wizards backcourt arrived in the District, the franchise was having problems competing. Wall and Beal feuding with each other might be an issue to some, but the real problems for Washington are bigger than the team’s two star players.