Beal seals the deal
It all started with a dismissal of Chicago deep-dish pizza.
As the Washington Post reported Tuesday before Game 2 between the Wizards and Bulls, Wizards starting shooting guard Bradley Beal dismissed the famed deep-dish pizza of Chicago as “fat pie” that’ll keep you “in the bathroom for hours.” Sure, I might be slightly tweaking his comments for dramatic effect. And yeah – Beal probably meant #NODISRESPECTTOBENAFFLECK, but #ALLDISRESPECTTODEEPDISH. If you don’t know what these hashtags are parodying, you need to get up to snuff on your Kanye West circa September 2013.
Oh, breaking news during the writing of this column: Sir Charles Barkley just said the Wizards are going to sweep the Bulls! You heard it here first!
Anyway, Beal’s dismissal of deep-dish pizza was a microcosm for the slug fest that took place in Chicago Tuesday night. The Bulls desperately needed to win because we sportswriters need to exaggerate EVERYTHING. And Chicago really could’ve benefited from a win so that they wouldn’t have had to go play multiple games in Washington being down 2-0. Meanwhile, the Wizards were kinda, sorta playing with house money having already stolen Game 1 in Chicago.
Before Chicago led 87-77 with 6:58 to go in the fourth quarter, the one event of note in the game was a short fiasco in which Kirk Hinrich thought he was taller for a couple seconds and wrapped his arm around Bradley Beal’s neck during an inbounds play. Both players got technicals and that was that; still, the raw emotion of that moment foreshadowed what was to come in the final minutes of the game.
Still down seven with less than five minutes to go, the game became a mixture of insane back-and-forth hustle plays and The Bradley Beal Show. Both teams demonstrated the will to hit the floor hard just for an extra possession or two, yet only one team had Bradley Beal i.e. the 20-year-old (20!!!!), second year player who was All-SEC in his one college season at Florida and averaged 32.5 PPG in his senior year of high school.
I repeat: Bradley Beal is 20 years old. NBA – you’ve been put on notice.
Beal scored nine points down the stretch of the fourth quarter, and, with the help of an extra two points from Nenê, brought the Wizards all the way back to tie the game at 91 and force overtime. He was even granted shooting rights over John Wall on the final possession of regulation for Washington, though he ended up hitting rim on a fade-away over Joakim Noah.
Overtime was feisty still. Noah occasionally let out barbaric yelps into the heavens of the arena as if to mark his territory or simply unleash his anguish over the Bulls having another okay season with Derrick Rose in which they’ve managed to be competitive but never had any hope for a championship run. It must be awful to be a Chicago sports fan right now given the futility of the Cubs, the disappointment of Jay Cutler, the loss of hope for the Blackhawks, the ineptitude of the White Sox, the incoming DL stint for Chris Sale of the White Sox, and the absence of Derrick Rose. But hey, Chicago fans – just remember two things: You’ve still got deep-dish pizza (despite whatever Bradley “I’m awesome” Beal says), and you’re still not Cleveland.
That’s right, kids – God still hates Cleveland. The lead story on ClevelandBrowns.com as of the writing of this article is entitled “Brian Hoyer wins local cooking competition.” Yeah.
Despite almost giving the game away after controlling much of overtime, the Wizards pulled off the 101-99 victory after Kirk “I’m really just over 6’0” but they list me at 6’4” Hinrich missed a potential game-tying pair of free throws. He seemed really sad in his post-game interview, but it may have just been how he looks without his clear basketball Ray-Bans on his face that that threw me for a loop.
So, the Wizards are now up 2-0 heading back to Washington with the chance to win a playoff series for the first time since 2005. Back then, the Wizards were being led by Gilbert “Hey, guys – come check out my guns locker” Arenas, former Maryland stars Steve Blake and Juan Dixon, draft bust Kwame Brown, Antwan “I used to be younger” Jamison, and seven-footer Brendan Haywood. Those were the glory days for this iteration of the Wizards franchise. Before Arenas and Co., the last successful run for a Baltimore-Washington metro NBA team involved the Washington Bullets, who made the NBA Finals three times in five years from 1974-1979 and won the NBA championship in 1978 against the Seattle SuperSonics in seven games with all-stars Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes.
Yeah – it’s been a long time for BW-metro area NBA fans. Believe me when I say that, should Washington make a deep playoff run into May (even in this diluted Eastern Conference field), you’re going to see a lot of rejoicing from diehard and bandwagon Wiz fans alike – and, honestly, I’m cool either way. Consider this my formal motion for bringing an NBA team back to Baltimore. Happy NBA playoffs, y’all!