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Bradley Beal gears up for return to Washington

© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

When the Phoenix Suns traded for Bradley Beal back on June 18, Beal had to leave a city in Washington that gave him his entire career in the NBA.

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Beal was drafted by the Wizards with the No. 3 overall pick back in 2012, and he stayed loyal to the city through all of the ups and downs for 11 years before the trade.

Similar to how Devin Booker is perceived in Phoenix, Washington fans were behind Beal through his entire career.

Today, Beal returns to the place that gave him everything in the NBA for over a decade.

“Honestly, (Friday) is probably the first day it hit me, just getting closer to it,” Beal said after the Suns lost 129-120 to the Atlanta Hawks Friday. “Being back in the building, seeing familiar faces, I have no idea what to expect, to feel, but I’m kind of going in with just an open mind, open heart. Embracing all the feels, embracing the love. Whatever I get, being thankful the moments that we had here and just take it all in.”

Throughout his time in Washington, Beal ended up playing 635 regular season games, good for third all time in Wizards history. In these games, Beal became the all-time franchise leader in 3-pointers (1,514), second in points (15,391), field goals (5,624), steals (772) and top 5 in several other categories.

He made the All-Star game three times in Washington and was named All-NBA third team in 2021 when he averaged a career high 31.3 points.

“It’s tough because I don’t like patting myself on the back or kind of gaslighting myself,” Beal said. “Just take your time and embrace what you did in D.C. and just be in the moment: that’s what my biggest goal is.”

Suns’ fans have seen several tribute videos this year whether they’re for their players on the road or opposing players in Footprint Center. Beal might be the most deserving out of everyone.

“I’m trying to find ways to balance it and not get too rattled,” Beal said. “Especially if they’re doing it before the game, I want to try to stay locked in as much as possible. I’m sure it’ll be a special moment. I’ll embrace it all and be ready to go.”

(Video credit to AZ Central’s Duane Rankin)

Teammates react to Beal’s return

The Suns (28-21) enter this afternoon’s matchup 3-3 on its current seven-game road trip, the longest of the season.

Beal has struggled since breaking his nose in Indiana on Jan. 26. Since suffering the injury, Beal has gone 3-for-27 from 3-point range.

His Suns’ teammates are still rallying behind him and looking forward to seeing the reception he will get in Washington.

“I’m excited for him,” Kevin Durant said as he gears up to play in his hometown. “Growing up in that area, I know how important the Wizards are to the youth and how much they respect guys that play for the team. Brad has left his mark in D.C. over the past decade. It’s going to be cool to see the reception for him when he comes back. Look forward to going out there and playing our best for him, so we can get this W.”

Booker, who knows exactly what it’s like to stay so long in one place in his NBA career, knows how special this moment will be for Beal.

“He’s going to be locked in and ready to go,” Booker said about his backcourt mate. “We’re going to rally behind him. We obviously know what’s at stake. He’s done a lot for that franchise and that organization, so he should be welcomed with the love that he deserves.”

Suns have clean injury report vs. Wizards, Kyle Kuzma out

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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