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‘To finally be healthy is a big relief’ — Andscape

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Knock on wood, Bradley Beal is finally healthy and flourishing with the Phoenix Suns.

The first-year Suns guard missed 24 of 42 regular-season games entering Wednesday’s game due to back and ankle injuries. Beal, however, has looked like the three-time NBA All-Star he is in January, averaging 20.3 points in the month while scoring a season-high 37 points on the road against Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 11. While Beal has conceded that his games missed due to injury will likely keep him from making the NBA All-Star Game and ineligible for postseason awards, he is ecstatic just to be healthy and contributing to the rising Suns.

“To finally be healthy is a big relief, excitement. It’s also checking off of a big worry that I had,” Beal said to Andscape last week. “Being new to a new team, being an investment to this team, you want to be available. You want to be able to showcase what you’re able to do and contribute to winning and that was really rocky for me, too, beginning of the year. And to be back healthy now and to be back in full force with everything behind me, I can just look forward now. It feels amazing in every single game. I’m just thankful to just be out there. I just have a different mindset now. It’s like I just have an attitude of gratitude …

“But it was very humbling, man. It definitely challenged me mentally. It made me stronger and just made me more appreciative of the game, that we have it and that we’re able to play it at this high level that we play it.”

Beal, his wife Kamiah Adams-Beal, and three young sons, Bradley “Deuce” II, Braylon and Braxton, moved to Phoenix after the Washington Wizards traded Beal to the Phoenix Suns in June 2023. The St. Louis native has acknowledged that he is joining his first true championship contender in his NBA career with fellow superstars, forward Kevin Durant and guard Devin Booker, and coach Frank Vogel. The Suns have never won an NBA championship.

During the 2023-24 NBA season, Beal, 30, will be sharing insight into his life on and off the court in the Valley of the Sun and on the road during his monthly video and diary on Andscape. NBA players Draymond Green, Vince Carter, Trae Young, CJ McCollum, Fred VanVleet, De’Aaron Fox, Cade Cunningham, James Wiseman and Josh Jackson have participated in previous diaries.

The 6-foot-4, 207-pounder is averaging 18 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 19 games this season. The Suns’ Big 3 of Beal, Durant and Booker are expected to play during Wednesday’s road game against the Dallas Mavericks (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

In Beal’s fourth diary installment, as told to Andscape senior NBA writer Marc J. Spears, he talks about the joy of playing with Durant and Booker and being on a title contender, his hopes of making the NBA All-Star Weekend 3-point competition, his hopes of playing for USA Basketball in the 2024 Paris Games after missing the last Olympics due to the COVID-19, seeing actor and Suns fan Emma Stone at the Lakers game, his pregame routine, his first return to Washington on Feb. 4 to play his former team, the Washington Wizards, and much more.

From left to right: Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal, guard Devin Booker and forward Kevin Durant celebrate after scoring against the Charlotte Hornets at Footprint Center on Dec. 29, 2023, in Phoenix.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

To be with the Suns, a team that has an opportunity to win at a high level and a championship is our goal, that’s fun. Basketball is very, you know, it kind of takes you to a new level mentally. But it’s also not easy because you have a target on your back every single night.

You got to make sure that you’re locked in and you’re ready to go. You’re going to get the opposing team’s best shot every night. The league as a whole is supercompetitive now. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be in a situation that I’m in to, to learn from the teammates I have and the staff that we have and be on the floor with those guys. It’s been fun. I haven’t taken a moment for granted, not once. So, I’m just grateful to be here, and I’m excited for what we can do. We’re still building it.

I would say I’m a lot more confident this season knowing that we have a legit chance, given our roster, given our staff, given everything as a whole. In Washington, I’ve always had a goal of making it possible to hopefully win a championship. But it was always baby steps in D.C. making the playoffs, making the second round, hopefully getting to a conference finals. There was always a steppingstone. We’re here now [in Phoenix]. We’re shooting for it all. So those are two totally different feelings.

We’re still working out some kinks, but it’s been a fun journey. Everybody’s sacrificing and embracing the grind of it. We’ve been putting together some good stretches against some good teams. It’s been fun to be back healthy, been fun to be back.

The Lakers game I wasn’t trying to put the world on notice. I was just playing ball. I was just having fun. It’s one of the best stadiums [Crypto.com Arena] to play in, you know, so just embracing the moment, embracing just being on the floor. I always say I don’t want to take a moment for granted, especially after missing as many games as I did, and the impact that has on the team and on yourself. It makes you more appreciative of everything.

And it was just my night that night. I had a role and KD [Durant] told me to just keep going and he kept feeding me, and the team just rallied around me. It was an unbelievable feeling, a boost of confidence and just a boost of morale as a team.

“I saw her [Emma Stone]. I didn’t know initially until Book turned around and said, ‘What’s up Em?’ I turned back and she dapped us up. I was like, ‘Oh snap, that’s Emma Stone.’ I’m a huge fan of hers. That was a cool moment. That’s Hollywood for you. That is very cool that we have her support.”

Actor Emma Stone (center) shakes hands with Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal (right) during the Suns’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 11 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles.

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis is going to be freezing. I think the only way I will be there is if I’m in a 3-point contest. But I gave you my [3-point] percentages. I don’t know if I could participate. Probably could, but that would probably be the only way I go. If not, I am going to enjoy [vacation].

I don’t know, man. I’ve had some tough runs in the past in the 3-point contest. I was runner-up one year. A couple of years, I didn’t do good. I feel I got to get one. To shoot those 3s, you are out there on the island by yourself. It’s dark. You feel like it’s moving at lightning speed. It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s a fun environment, something you always dreamed of as a kid.

We’re going back to D.C. I’m looking forward to seeing my brother and my nephew — my brother had a baby over the past year — and all of my family and friends that we’ve met and grown to become friends with and close with over the years. And then, obviously, all the people who are still a part of the organization from when I was there. I know it’ll be a special time, a special moment for everybody. I’m not really nervous about it, but I’m saying it now weeks in advance. You never know.

Catch me in a moment, I might. I don’t know. Who knows? You might be a little bit more emotional about it, but it’s not right now. No, no, no. During the tribute video? Yeah. It may hit me then. It depends on when they do the video, though. That’s very key. If they do it during the game, it may hit me. It may not hit me as hard because I’ll be locked into the game. If they do it before the game, that may make it a little bit more emotional. I hope not, but I don’t know. I probably won’t know till I’m in it.

The fans in D.C. [have] always been great to me. They’ve always been supportive and loving, uplifting, encouraging, critical when necessary. I loved everything about it. I loved everything about the fans there. They’ve always respected me and always embraced me as one of theirs. I’ve always been grateful for them, and I’ve always tried to give back to the community as best as I could and show my respect and love back to the fans and the community as best I could, too.

One of the biggest things I loved and makes me feel more at peace and kind of at ease about leaving the city was I didn’t leave in a hostile way. And there was no hostility towards me and there was nothing that caused any friction or craziness or madness in leaving. That’s one thing that kind of gives you a little ease and peace about it, too.

Guard Bradley Beal of the USA men’s national team looks on during the game against the Argentina men’s national team on July 13, 2021, at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympics. Man, that that still haunts me to this day. Still hurts me in the heart to not be able to go. You know my I always [dreamed] of it as a kid and, it was a reality. And, granted, things happen for a reason. COVID hit and it hit me strong. Actually, it was the first time I ever had it and it forbid me to go so I couldn’t go. But I was happy [USA] won. It is funny because every time I play coach Pop (Spurs coach and former USA coach Gregg Popovich) that is one of the one of the first things we always talk about.

He is like, ‘Damn, I didn’t get to coach you. Damn, you didn’t get to go.’ So, [Paris] is definitely a goal. Hopefully I’m in this pool of players who can be chosen to go to France.

[Miami Heat center] Bam [Adebayo] is my brother, man. Even on USAB, we were both on the Tokyo team. But even before then, competing against him, we were both in the Southeast Division, I’ve always been a fan of him and it’s always exciting to play him because he don’t care who you are. He’s going to compete. He’s going to come at you. The flex [challenge we had against each other], that is one of the [in-game] moments I’m talking about. Just his energy, his liveliness. Once he makes a play, once he gets a stop on a guard, he’s going to pat himself on the back and let him know what it is all about. The flex [on me] was one of them moments. But I have fun with him and let him know I lift a few weights, too. I probably don’t lift as much as him, but I’m in the weight room, too.

I bought a house here in Arizona. Cost me. The process of buying here in Arizona is definitely different. It is way more expensive than I thought. And it’s very similar to California, honestly. Superexpensive. But income taxes are low, so I love that. Very low. But real estate is expensive, man.

I always feel a little pressure [on my drive to home games]. At first, I have a little self-reflection. Meditate a little bit. It’s kind of quiet. In my mind, I just kind of visualize the game a little bit. And as I’m driving, I just enjoy the ride, enjoy the scenery. Then I’m listening to music. So, it’s kind of routine-ish in some ways.

“I mix it up [the music I play]. It depends on the mood. It can be rap. Some days, I’m R&B. Some days gospel. Some days no music. It’s depending on the mood.

Arizona is beautiful. To see the mountains from your backyard is unreal. It’s some of the coolest stuff in the world. Very clear skies. Not many tall buildings to block the views of the mountains. They don’t have much grass, though. It’s very hot. That is one thing, my dogs are suffering with no grass.

I have two dogs. I have a cane corso, and I got a rottweiler. My babies. We used to have three baby sharks back in D.C. We used to have a big fish tank. Couldn’t transport them just when it wasn’t a good look. You got the Noah’s Ark and the private jet.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.



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