How Washington Wizards Star Bradley Beal Plans On Making Magic On And Off The Court This Season

Bradley BealPhoto Credit: Andreas Branch



BRADLEY BEAL SOUNDS EXHAUSTED, like he’s been using his summer off-season to live his best life into the wee hours of the morning. And he is, but not in the way you might think.

The NBA star owes his sleepless nights to his newborn son, Braxton. And although he wouldn’t have it any other way, the man is tired. “A vacation is hard to plan now, and sleep is hard to come by, but that’s life,” he sighs longingly. (For reference, we had just been talking about how he and wife Kamiah Adams-Beal make it their mission to hit the spa on holiday.

His haphazard REM schedule doesn’t come into play until later in our chat, and now in hindsight I feel kind of mean for talking about an escape.)

But trust me, Beal isn’t complaining. Life, at this moment in time, is aces. He’s married to his best friend, has a Kardashian-worthy crew of kids (with the same matching first letter name game to boot: Bradley Jr. aka “Deuce,” 4, Braylon, 3, and Braxton, 2 months, all begin with a “Bra” just like their dad, who also comes from a “B” family; his brothers are Brandon, Bruce, Byron, and Bryon), and is currently the face of his franchise, the Washington Wizards, inking a five-year, $251 million contract extension with a guaranteed $57 million in the fifth year to stay and play in DC. — and likely more.

Given that Beal has played for the same team since being selected as third overall pick in the 2012 draft a decade ago, the Wizards’ faith in him, as well as major mutual respect, were definitely deciding factors in his decision to extend his stay in the nation’s capital. (Not, as it happens, for the food, people, museums, or politics — though all of that is an added bonus.)

“People always look at me like I’m crazy, but I have a huge desire to want to make it work here and win here,” the shooting guard admits, noting, “This is the team that drafted me. They’re super loyal, I have a great relationship with ownership, and a great relationship with our front office. Plus, there’s not a lot of chances in the careers of NBA players to be notated as the franchise guy, you know? To be able to have that opportunity, to be able to be in a position to where I can write my own story, that’s everything.”

His pledge of allegiance is a topic that pops up intermittently throughout our chat — a reciprocation that I feel must be one of his identifying characteristics. Beal whole-heartedly agrees, saying, “Loyalty is definitely a huge factor for me. At the end of the day, basketball is a business. You see guys drafted to teams and traded shortly after, and sometimes, loyalty is questioned. I’ve never had that feeling [with the Wizards]. I’ve never had to have that particular cloud lingering over my head at any point in my career here. I love the fact that we’re always up front, that there’s always a straightforward conversation about where we’re going and what we’re doing.”

Obviously, what he’d really like to do is win. With a $251 million contract looming over his head, he’s not just in it for the warm and fuzzies. That being said, doing it here, in his home of ten years, for the fans and front office that have had his back throughout his time in the league, well, there’s a poetic and supreme justice in that.

On that front, he says, “I feel like if I win a championship here in DC, the grind of it, with everything I’ve been through, all the adversity and ups and downs, that would make a win that much sweeter, make me appreciate it that much more. And I do love the grind, and to sometimes go against the odds.”

Perhaps the odds are now in his favor. Although the Wizards finished 12th in the Eastern Conference, Wes Unseld was just getting his feet wet as head coach, and the team has a slew of new players in fellow shooting guard Will Barton, point guards Monte Morris and Delon Wright, power forward Taj Gibson, and newly drafted shooting guard Johnny Davis, with recent additions of center Kristaps Porzingis, who joined the team early last season, and power forward Kyle Kuzma, who was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021.

Beal says as much now. “We still have to develop as a team and get better, but [I’m confident we’ll get there]. It was Wes Unseld’s first year last year, so that was an adjustment for us as players, getting acclimated to a new system and how he wants us to play. We have about 10 new guys since the start of last year, so essentially we’re playing with a fresh new team.”

That being said, he’s realistic about learning curves. The Wizards won’t magically win the NBA Finals overnight. “We’re not going to be undefeated in the first 20 games of the season; it’s still a work in progress, and we still have certain things that need to be developed. But we are developing camaraderie right in the off-season, and hopefully that will take us into the preseason and season itself, so we can get the thing running right.”

 Not that winning is off the court, so to speak — not by a long shot. As he builds, it will come. “Winning takes precedence and priority over everything,” he declares. “Obviously we have to win. We have to be better; I have to be better.”

At what, I wonder? He readily shares his perceived strengths and (mostly) weaknesses. “I’m my toughest critic,” he notes. “Nobody will be harder on me than I am on myself. I always say everything in my game needs to get better, and I need to improve every year. Like, people credit me as a good shooter, but I feel like I didn’t shoot as well over the last few years. So that’s one thing. Getting my percentages up higher, being more consistent, shooting deeper threes, working on my defense more, being more engaged, rebounding.”

Bradley BealPhoto Credit: Andreas Branch

“Give me some positivity, Bradley!” I say, and so he does… eventually. “I can’t be giving my superpowers away; I can’t be giving my enemies the sauce!” he teases, before answering, “I do love my game, I love how I play, and I don’t want to say that I don’t. I love my ability to score on three levels. I don’t just shoot the ball and dribble, I can shoot mid-range and get to the basket. I definitely take pride in that, and not being a one-dimensional player.”

But there is no “I” in team, and Beal is very much about the Wizards as a unit. Where would Harry Potter be, for example, without Ron or Hermione? “It definitely takes a village; I can’t do it all by myself,” he notes. “It takes everybody, from ownership all the way down to the last man. Winning hasn’t been something we’ve been doing, and I definitely want to change the narrative of our team. I want us to be a winning team. I want to be known as a winning team.”

If Harry Potter were team captain, I imagine he’d use some kind of sneaky spell or a good luck charm. But Beal’s lucky charm? It looks more like the bat symbol.

Because in reality, the “B” in Bradley should probably stand for “Batman.” The Dark Knight is Beal’s favorite superhero, but I’m still not quite sure why. What I do know is this: when I ask Beal about Batman, he lights up (and more importantly, wakes up).

“I love Batman, but he has no superpowers. It’s the craziest thing: he’s my favorite, and a superhero, but he has no power!” he laments.

We mull over that for a moment. What does make Bruce Wayne so great? (I think it’s the codpiece, though I’m sure this is not a popular opinion). And then Beal starts thinking about what he wishes he could do. “I’d like to mind read. Or be invisible. Or have the ability to teleport.” He pauses, and seems to put real thought into the question. “But I’d go with teleport most of all. If I need to be somewhere, I’d like to get there quick. If I wanted to go to Spain, I’d just snap and finger and be there.”

While I applaud this power of choice, I think it’s safe to say that Beal has a few powers of his own. So what if they’re not superhuman?

Bradley BealPhoto Credit: Andreas Branch

As a basketball player, he’s a total unicorn (see: our entire last section) playing for the same team his entire career. But beyond that, throughout his 10 years in the league, he’s made NBA All-Star three times (in 2018, 2019, and 2021, respectively); been selected to the 2013 NBA All-Rookie First Team; finished second in the league for scoring in 2020-21, averaging 31.3 points per game; shot career highs from the field (48.5%) and from the free throw line (88.9%) in the 2020-21 season; become the second player in Washington Wizards history with 13,000 points; made 2020-21 his fifth straight season with at least 1,700 points; become the sixth player since 1976 to average 30+ points in back-to-back seasons; and finished third in the league behind Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry, with 34 games of 30+ points. (He was second in the league with eight 40+ point games — just behind Curry.)

In his opinion, his superpower would be his ability to listen. “It’s a strength,” he says. “I can be an ear to people; I’m good at just being there, listening.”

That said, methinks his real power is his heart. In 2019, he was honored with the NBA Care Community Assist Award, which highlights an individual player’s commitment to positively impacting his community through sustained efforts over the course of a season. Beal is also a champion for equality, and in regard to women’s basketball in particular, has been outspoken about his support of the WNBA and equal pay. And during the hellish year that was 2020, he advocated for the Black community and showed his support for social justice movements, leading marches and protests.

But, being from such a large, tight family, and building that Kardashian-worthy close-knit crew of his own, it’s no surprise that his main emphasis is child-focused athletics programs. He hosts annual children’s basketball camps in DC and his hometown of St. Louis, and has been quietly fulfilling a long-term dream, something he’s wanted to do since the day he was drafted. He’s currently in the process of building a 99,000 square-foot elite performance sports facility, in conjunction with the 501c non-profit Chesterfield Sports Association, to create something for burgeoning athletes that he himself never had growing up. It’s a place, he says, which will “give them a home, a place where they can develop even when they’re done playing. A place where, even when they’ve gone to college and hopefully gone pro, [they] can come back to and still have a place to train.”

And really, just throwing this out there, but he’s the ultimate husband and dad. While not a “superpower” in the traditional sense of the word, someone that shows loyalty, respect, and love should never be discredited.

Seriously, he and Kamiah — who founded the cosmetics brand XO by Kamiah and who many might recognize from VH1’s Love and Hip Hop — are couple goals. He understands that she needs to sometimes be home in LA where she’s from, and she tries to understand his love of modern art, even taking him to contemporary artist Hebru Brantley’s Chicago studio and a Basquiat exhibit he’d been longing to see in New York. But best of all, she bought him a new PC so they could play Call of Duty all day long — she with a pink controller, he with a blue one — and although they may talk mad smack in the process, they do still love each other.

He still remembers the day they met with a smile in his voice. “She was doing hand signals in the air, trying to get my attention, and I was kind of confused. I’m like ‘What is that?’ But she was actually trying to give me her number in the air because we were so far apart. But she eventually wrote it on a napkin, and gave it to me. She was aggressive, I give her that.”

OK, but real talk: Is there anything more attractive than a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it? “You know, I did appreciate it, because I don’t know if I would have made a move, because I was just chilling. I wasn’t actually doing anything,” he admits. “And honestly, she caught my eye, and I’m shy at heart, so I probably wouldn’t have done anything about it.”

But she did what she did — and the rest is a beautiful history that Beal refers to as a “unicorn relationship,” a balance of respect, friendship, and fun, which the couple documents on their YouTube Channel, “The Beal Family.”

Beal was raised by a strong mother, so it’s unsurprising that he appreciated Kamiah’s power moves. Besta, a former college basketball player, was the glue that held his family together — which is no easy task with five strapping boys — but Beal credits his parents as a unit. “I’ve been blessed in so many ways,” he concedes. “I was raised in a two-parent household, so I had an example of how to treat a woman, see how my dad treated my mom, how hard they both worked to provide for their family, their endeavors, and the sacrifices they had to make. I guess I had a really good ass example of how to live, how to raise a family, and how to be a man. I definitely credit them — and my mom was our backbone. She’s the strongest head of our family; she taught us everything, from school to sports. She is immaculate in so many ways. She is the real MVP.”

Cue the “aw,” please (I couldn’t help myself), but in case you’re starting to think the man is pure mush, well, just ask his wife. She might not be super fond of some of the shit he pulls… but then again, Kamiah is probably right there next to him, giving as good as she gets.

The Beals like to wind each other up, and it’s way more physical than Blake Lively/Ryan Reynolds-style internet trolling. “We prank each other all the time,” he divulges. “We’ll video each other when we’re walking, holding hands, and she’ll trip me. We’ll pour water on each other while the other person is sleeping. I’ve drawn on her face while she’s sleeping, for sure. I try not to act too crazy though!”

Bradley BealPhoto Credit: Andreas Branch

I bet: If I were him, I’d totally fear her retaliation!

By nature, though Beal comes across as fairly serious and a little reserved, I remind myself that, going back to the beginning here, the man is a brand-new dad. Who has time for joking or pranking when you can’t sleep through the night, right? So when I ask what people might be surprised to learn about him, I end up being surprised as well. “I’m funny,” he declares. “I think sometimes people think I can be dry or shy, but I’m just very down-to-earth, chill, and laid-back. Back in school, I was always known as the shy guy, but I was actually the class jokester and the teacher would never suspect me. I wouldn’t call too much attention to myself but I would jump out of the shell every now and again. So I was a sly, shy guy at the same time.”

But at home, he can be whoever the hell he wants to be. He’s a goofball, a jokester, a husband, a father, a friend. At home, he’s just Bradley. Which is why when he says that he considers his family to be his greatest luxury, I’m entirely unsurprised.

“My home, my family, is my place of peace,” he shares. “After work, when I come home, my kids are always happy, they’re always in a good mood, and they take my mind off of whatever it is that was bothering me or stressing me out. They teach me a lot about myself, too, as they get older, as they mature. While I’m trying to pave the way for them, they check me during the process and help me evaluate myself and my life in a lot of ways.

“And then I have my wife, who’s my best friend, my everything,” he continues. “The fact is, I kind of give her the reins to hold me accountable; but I enforced it. I’m like, If there’s something that you dislike or something that you need more of from me, express it; tell me so I can do better, so I can be the best version of me that I can possibly be.”

Holding that kind of power, well, what else can you really call it but magic?

Bradley BealPhoto Credit: Andreas Branch