WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal spoke to the media for the first time since it was announced that he would be shut down for the rest of the season with a fibula injury. In the interview, Beal admitted that he may have made a mistake trying to play through his injuries.
"Should I have [played]? No," he said when asked. "But I was going to play regardless, because I'm a hard-headed kid. That's just how I am. I'm always competitive and I always want to play. If I feel like it's at the point where I can play through it, I'm going to play regardless of what the injury is. But [now] this is something that the trainers agreed on that we just can't take the risk."
Beal said he's been feeling on and off pain in his leg all season in addition to the ankle trouble, but it hadn't been especially serious until after he absorbed a hit in the Wizards' win over the Bulls on Tuesday.
Here's a partial transcript of Beal and Randy Wittman addressing the media.
Initial Reaction: "I was glad it wasn't too serious, but I'm still upset by the fact that I can't play. It is what it is. I had a feeling that it really wasn't my ankle. It ended up being my fibula, but I'm glad it's just a stress reaction and not a possible worse injury."
Did you know after the game Tuesday? "Yeah, I think I knew. It was heckling me all year, and that was the worst it felt. There's no point in me continuing to pound it and pound it, because that'd make it worse. I knew I wasn't playing the next game for sure, but it only ended up being shut down for the year the next day. I can't complain."
When did you first feel leg pain? "I don't even remember. It was earlier in the year. I'm not sure what game it was. I knew definitely it's being going back and forth, on and off the whole year. It was definitely a pain in the butt sometimes, but when it was away, I felt good. It was something that kept going back and forth and something I didn't want to take a risk on anymore."
Was the ankle injury connected to that? "It was, because we thought it was a high ankle sprain. They always say those hurt and take a while to heal, similar to what I have now. I got several MRIs earlier in the year and it wasn't really showing up the way it did now. I got another one the other day, and unfortunately it showed a stress reaction in my bones. Something we just can't take a risk on."
Did the ankle injuries contribute to the leg pain? "Probably, yeah. But my ankles were fine. I've always gotten over ankle injuries since I was a little kid. There was nothing too crazy [this year], nothing I couldn't handle. It was just the fact that pushing through those, I would say, probably is what caused me to shift the balance to the other leg, causing me to have the stress reaction."
Did you feel any pressure from anyone to play, other than yourself? "It was all from me. I won't let anyone force me to play if I can't play. My trainers tell me that as well. They don't know how my body feels. Only I know how it feels. Basically, they just tell me they just treat me to see how I'm feeling. If I feel as though I can go, I'm going to go. If I'm not [feeling able to go], I'm not [going to play], necessarily."
Does this change your offseason training schedule? "It doesn't change [my offseason plan] at all. It's just that I'm going to be sitting down [for that time], which I was going to do after the season anyway. Just resting up and letting it heal, then easing my way back into it before getting down to the grind before the season starts."
Does it hurt now? "It hurts every now and then, but nothing too painful. I can walk around. As long as I'm not running or jumping, anything that would cause it to be very painful, I'm good."
(Note: Beal did not have a brace on his leg).
Was the 82-game season a big adjustment? "It definitely is, because you don't realize how long it is and how quick it is at the same time. There are so many games back to back. A lot of guys don't even play the full 82 because of how weary it gets on your body. It's definitely a long season and definitely one of the biggest transitions that any rookie faces. Also, the traveling on top of that."
Will you do any work to strengthen your leg and ankles? "Whatever the training staff has planned for it, I definitely want to do it to strengthen my ankles, strengthen the rest of my body and everything connected to it. Make sure they're strong to prevent this from happening again."
Will you play in Summer League? "Whatever coach has planned for me. It's really up to coach whether or not I play. If I play, I probably won't play in too many games. But it's definitely something I wouldn't mind doing."
On the injury itself: "Injuries are what they are. It's not a serious injury. He just needs to rest, which all guys need at the end of the year, whether you cut your season short by seven games [sic.] or not. I don't think there's disappointment of being hurt. It would have been nice to have him play at the end of the season, because like I've said to you guys, it's important for young guys like him to play as many games as you can early on. But the reality of it is that we had to shut him down, and I think he had a solid campaign."
Should he have been shut down sooner? "Obviously, it was always a situation with how he felt. He got back to a point where he felt good. The Toronto game [at Verizon Center], he felt good. Then, he got hit a couple times in the next game [against the Bulls] and came down awkwardly. As we stated leading up to it, obviously, if he's got any pain in [the ankle], we're not going to push him to play. But he came back and said he felt good, wanted to go, and we played him no problems. Next day in practice, he was fine. Obviously, there was still some problem area there when he got hit, though he didn't turn it again. He came down a little hard, awkward on it looking on film again. He felt something. And that was when it's like, 'You know, we have eight games left, let's shut him down.'"
Will the Wizards sign another guard? "I doubt it. I doubt it. What do we got, 12 days left? [But] we're going to talk about it. If there's a young guy out there worth taking a look at, maybe somebody from China. We're going through the list of D-League guys playing at a high level right now, which we obviously did with Shelvin [Mack] and Garrett [Temple]. We're going to look at that. But it's just so hard at this point for me. I don't even know how many more practices we've got. To integrate a guy with 12 days left and maybe no practices left into what we're doing [is hard]. Those kind of things.
"I'm not going to say 'NO', but as long as we stay healthy-er without getting more guys not playing other than Bradley, [we'll be OK]. We have Cartier [Martin]. We have Chris [Singleton] that can play some 3. We have Martell [Webster] that can play some 2, and Garrett. And I played A.J. [Price]and John [Wall] together some here coming down the stretch, and I like looking at that to see how that combination can look because I haven't really used that this year."