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Bradley Beal gears up for his first full All-Star Weekend
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sitting inside Capital One Arena on the Monday before All-Star Weekend, Bradley Beal still couldn't believe he made the All-Star team this season.
"It still hasn't hit me, it still hasn't hit me," Beal said in an interview. "It will definitely hit me when I head into the arena and actually see my jersey and see all of the other guys there. And just realizing that I'm one of the 24."
Beal will make his first full All-Star weekend appearance after being one of 24 All-Stars selected for Sunday's All-Star Game. The sixth-year Wizard has participated in the weekend before in the Rising Stars competition in 2013 and as a finalist in the Three-Point Contest in 2014, but this one will be different.
The Panda's whole family will be with him in L.A., his parents, four brothers, and one of his cousins. He'll have his girlfriend Kamiah and best friends Ray and Alex there as well, all taking in this experience. Beal is most looking forward to participating in the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service, but of course hoping to spend as much time with his family as possible.
"I definitely love spending time with my family, it's a goal of theirs [for me to be an All-Star]," Beal said. "They might be more excited than me. It was a very proud and exciting moment for my family, my friends, and my loved ones. I feel like it's a long time coming now."
Beal arguably deserved to make the East last year as an injury reserve, but Carmelo Anthony was named as a replacement for Kevin Love instead. Beal's career numbers last year weren't enough to get him to New Orleans, but this season he's putting up career-highs in points (23.4 per game), rebounds (4.5), assists (4.2), steals (1.2), and minutes (36.3).
Fellow teammate and All-Star selection John Wall will join Beal to leave for Los Angeles early Thursday morning to arrive in time for their first of several appearances, beginning with the Day of Service. Throughout the weekend, they will each be attending events with the NBA, their endorsement deals, and other media. Wall has given Beal some advice with the packed schedule in his first jam-packed All-Star Weekend.
"I have so many appearances to do, it's going to be a little draining," Beal explained. "But it's my first time so I'm going to make the most of it. His [Wall's] advice was don't do so many appearances, it'll kill you. But at the same time, he was just saying to enjoy it. It's your first time, your family is going to be there, it's going to be an unbelievable experience for everybody."
Along with Wall, Beal was picked by LeBron James and Team LeBron for Sunday's All-Star Game. Wall will unfortunately not be playing in the All-Star Game as he recovers from left knee surgery. Three other original Team LeBron players will also not be participating due to injury - DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Love, and Kristaps Porzingis. Joining James and Beal on the team will be LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Victor Oladipo, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Andre Drummond, Goran Dragic, and Kemba Walker.
"I don't even know," Beal said when asked about Team LeBron's gameplan. "We've had a few guys hurt on our team, there's going to be some new faces, new additions. I was looking forward to playing with John, now it's whoever's out there. I'm blessed and honored to be there, first and foremost, and soak in every moment. And just hoop. At the end of the day, our goal is to win and I feel like we have the better team."
Beal will also be participating in the 2018 JBL Three-Point Contest, his second time doing the event and first since losing to Marco Belinelli in the 2014 competition. Beal was the youngest player in NBA history to participate in the competition at the time, but he did it just to gain experience and go through the motions. This year, however, the player with the most 3-pointers before his 25th birthday in NBA history has other plans.
"This year, I gotta win. I can't just show up, there's so many great shooters. The competition's very high this year. I think it would just stack my name as one of the best shooters in the league."
Devin Booker, Wayne Ellington, Paul George, defending champion Eric Gordon, Tobias Harris, Kyle Lowry and 2016 champion Klay Thompson will join Beal in the competition. Beal is already known as one of the top shooters in the NBA, but winning the contest could put him on the national spotlight.
Beal and Wall are the first pair of Wizards teammates to be selected since Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison in the 2008 All-Star Game. The District's backcourt knows how important it is to have multiple All-Stars for the first time in a decade, and Beal hopes to put on for the city that has become his second home.
"I feel like John and I being All-Stars is significant to the city," Beal said. "I feel like the city needs it, the city has been missing having several stars on one team. Second of all, we need a championship, and that's the most important thing. I think this is definitely a stepping stone for that. Two guys with success, but we couldn't do it without the rest of the team as well. The city deserves it, hopefully they love it. We'll continue to showcase our talents and showcase our love back to the city as much as we can, and we'll represent it well."