Washington Wizards player Bradley Beal has spoken to the media during their final practice session in London today ahead of the NBA London Game 2019 against the New York Knicks at The O2 on January 17th.
Q: How do you rate the Wizards’ form going into this game?
BB: Not perfect, but it’s a lot better than at the beginning of the year. I think we’re turning the corner and over the last five games we’ve played some top teams in the East and played really well. I think we’re turning a corner and it’s just a matter of continuing to build our camaraderie as we have a totally different team to what we had at the beginning of the season, so we need to get those guys comfortable with the system and I think now we’re at the point where we just need to keep going.
Q: You’re in great form right now – what do you put this down to?
BB: Injuries happen, John [Wall]’s out, Dwight [Howard]’s out, Markieff [Morris]’s out, so everyone else has to step up. There’s no excuse for anything, that’s why you have fifteen guys on a team, so everyone has to be able to step up in a lot of ways and contribute, myself included. It’s up to me to be able to lead the team and carry as much as I can.
Q: How important is the form of Tomas Satoransky right now?
BB: He’s huge. He’s important – he’s our starting point guard so he runs the show, he’s getting us going. I tell him all the time to continue to be aggressive because when he’s aggressive we’re a great team.
Q: What is Satoransky like as a person?
BB: Unbelievable – he’s a goofball actually! He’s probably one of the funniest guys on the team. He’s a great guy.
Q: What are your thoughts on playing in London?
BB: I think it’s awesome, it’s amazing as it expands the NBA game and I think everyone is a huge fan. It warms our heart to know that we have so many fans, not only in the States but worldwide. London is a big basketball hub so we’re excited and blessed to be here, as not everyone has this opportunity, so I’m embracing it, the team’s embracing it and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: How have you found the mix between fun and focus so far?
BB: We’re doing a pretty good job but it’s a business trip at the end of the day. I always tell myself that if I love [London] that much I can come back in the summer and really have fun. For me, this is all about getting a little feel of the culture and sightseeing, but the biggest thing is just about making sure I’m ready for tomorrow.
Q: Two wins over the Knicks already this season, does that stand you in good stead for the game?
BB: It’s not a guarantee, we’ve got to make sure we come out and take care of business. This is a team that always competes and we go hard but it’s going to be a tough challenge for us. We have some guys out like I said before, but I think we’re at a point where we’re turning a corner and we’ve got some momentum we can build off from the last couple of games. We’re looking forward to it and tomorrow will be exciting.
Q: Do you think there’s scope for more games in London, perhaps an All-Star in the future?
BB: Probably, I wouldn’t even be surprised if they had a team eventually over here. It’d be crazy – I definitely hope it will happen one day. So why not, that’s my opinion!
Q: Would you consider playing for a team over here?
BB: I’d have to really think about that! I wouldn’t mind, I’d have to live over here a little longer to see if I can hang out with you guys and find out if you’re mean or not!
Q: This will be the third time that the Knicks have played in London – does that give them the advantage going into this game?
BB: I don’t think so. Everybody puts their shoes on the same way and a hoop is a hoop, whether you’re playing at the O2 or in the garden, it doesn’t matter where we play; you have to be able to show up to that game. You’re only as good as your last one so I don’t think [the fact they’ve played here before] is a huge advantage no.
Q: Do you think London is becoming a global sporting hub now, with MLB coming over here this year as well?
BB: I didn’t know that. For sure, we have the [American] Football over here every year, now basketball and baseball. It’s amazing, like I said before it’s definitely a sports hub and it’s exciting – l wouldn’t be surprised if they had a team over here down the line, so I think it’s amazing that we’re able to expand the game and that we have fans over here and people that love the game and support the game. I think it’s great for basketball.
Q: Has the news about Enes Kanter been a distraction at all going into the game?
BB: No – he’s not on my team so I don’t worry about it.
Q: What do you do to keep your focus?
BB: You have to – the biggest goal for us is to win. We’re under 500 right now so there’s nothing for us to be really happy about or too proud about – you have to be even keeled and make sure our main priority is to win games. That’s my main focus and however it looks, I’m going to go out there and get it done.
Q: What do you have to do as a team to make the Playoffs?
BB: We have a lot of things we have to work on and get better at.