I, for one, like it when athletes are thoughtful, nuanced and honest. It makes for good discussion and it helps us think about what is really going through their heads.
Bradley Beal is, based on all my interactions with him, a thoughtful, honest and nuanced young man. We shouldn't confuse dialect for intelligence, but Beal has a knack for conveying his thoughts well in public appearances. This was no different when 106.7 The Fan asked him about how he'd respond if he had a teammate like Derrick Rose that didn't come back from an injury in the intended timetable.
Sarah Kogod of the Washington Post transcribed the comments:
"That's hard, because I've never experienced that injury," Beal said. "And I know what type of injury that is, it's possible it's gonna happen again. Knock on wood. But at the same time, you might have to give it a go. If you're practicing for two months and everybody in practice is saying you're practicing well, I figure you gotta give it a shot in a game.
"But it's his decision. I can't really have a say so in it. If he doesn't feel he's mentally confident to be able to go out there and help the team, I guess I can't really blame him for it."
"A little bit. Yeah, I would [lose some respect for a teammate if he did that]," he said. "The type of player he is, and the mentality and competitiveness that he has, I think he would have gave it a go. I don't know what was holding him back. I think he's scared it's probably going to happen again and he won't be the same. But you're never the same after an injury. But you just have to fight through it and do something else to be able to impact the game. I'm not sure what it is he has to do. I really can't speak for him."
I present these comments in full because they exhibit an opinion that doesn't necessarily make for a good headline. (That many outlets made one out of it is understandable; you can't write a 50-word headline, after all). Beal is essentially saying that, while he doesn't know Rose's situation personally, he would be somewhat confused if, as a teammate, Rose said he was ready to play and didn't play. At the same time, that confusion would ultimately stay in his head because he respects the individual needs of Rose's body.
This may seem like a "wishy-washy" opinion, but it's not. I often wonder why SB Nation's competitors do business the way they do based on what they put out, but I also respect that I don't really know their situations. (Before you get any ideas, I'm not talking about anyone specifically). It's a thought that enters my brain, but not one that overwhelms it. That Beal spoke out his thought while also acknowledging that it was just a thought is commendable to me. Why shouldn't he say what he said?
Of course, the comments got around and Beal was forced to tweet this clarification.
Hey @drose would hate for u to think I meant any disrespect. Only u know when u r ready to play! Can't wait to see u back out there next yr!— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) May 18, 2013
Oh well. Such is what happens when spoken word becomes written word.
I do find it interesting what Beal said in the context of his season. Remember: he fought through a number of ailments at the end of the year, to the point that many of us wished he'd sit out and think about his long-term health. (That he suffered a stress injury like John Wall only added to my apprehension). From his perspective, I can understand that lingering though about Rose's own caution. The injuries are significantly different, of course, and I think Beal understands that. At the same time, Beal played through pain this season, so he is one of a few NBA players that can speak to the core issue at play.
Let's use Beal's comments as a means to have a discussion rather than vilifying him in any way. That's all I'm saying.