Bradley Beal Wore No. 23 Growing Up Because He Idolized LeBron James, ‘Never Watched’ Michael Jordan

Bradley Beal, Andre IguodalaWe now know two things for certain about Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal: He is still young, and he didn’t watch a lot of basketball as a kid.

Beal riffed about his personal life and hosted a trip to his hometown of St. Louis for an episode of Wizards Magazine, and in it, he offered a reminder that at 20 years old, he’s probably much younger than you. See, Beal always wore No. 23 on his jersey in AAU and high school, like kids across the country for the last three decades.

But the number wasn’t in honor of Michael Jordan, the most famous No. 23 in history. It was in honor of LeBron James.

“I never watched Michael Jordan growing up,” Beal said. “I grew up, ’23’ was LeBron. I always knew about Michael Jordan, but I can’t necessarily model myself after him. I always admired LeBron and the way he played all the time he was in Cleveland.”

Beal was 9 years old when Jordan retired for good and 10 years old when James entered the NBA. It makes sense that he’d be more familiar with James’ career than Jordan’s, but to “never watch” Jordan is surprising. Plenty of sub-9-year-olds watch sports — many of us knew more about sports at that age than we ever could today — but Beal apparently was doing other things.

Maybe Beal spent his formative years reading books or learning to interact with other people in a non-competitive environment, giving himself a solid base upon which he could develop into an upstanding citizen of society. What a waste of time.

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