Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard has deep ties to international basketball and the U.S. men’s program, so you can imagine how thrilled he was to have one of his players, Bradley Beal, make the Olympic roster ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games. Beal, though, was removed from the team just days before they flew to Japan due to Covid-19 health and safety protocols.
Like everyone, Sheppard was stunned by the timing.
“I was devastated for Bradley, with how much that opportunity meant to him,” Sheppard said. “The one great thing about this being 2021, he will be on the 2024 team. He deserves it more than anybody. He embodied the Olympic spirit. That team was devastated when he was not able to go forward with them.”
Beal was set to become the first active Wizards player to represent Team USA in the Olympics. His next chance, as Sheppard notes, will be in 2024 in Paris, France.
Sheppard visited Beal and Team USA in Las Vegas during their pre-Olympics training camp. He interacted with players and coaches, including head coach Gregg Popovich.
Sheppard was there when the Beal situation began to emerge and he could saw firsthand how the rest of the team reacted to the news.
“It was almost like a funeral atmosphere because he meant so much to that team. But I think, [it helped] that when they were able to get the gold, he heard from everybody from the locker room in Tokyo. Players were calling him and coaches were texting to him, saying how much they wish he was there to celebrate that and how much he meant to the team,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard went on to add that Beal can only move on and look ahead to 2024. A lot can happen in three years, but as long as Beal is still playing well, and still playing for Washington, he should have another shot at making Wizards/Bullets franchise history.