A mural on the wall of Ben’s Chili Bowl in northwest D.C. now showcases Washington Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, just in time for the team’s playoff run.
The two shooting stars stood outside the iconic eatery Thursday, marveling at the painting while dozens of fans cheered.
The diner remains a local attraction in the area where former President Barack Obama occasionally stopped by. The temporary Wizards mural — featuring the two clad in the team’s Stars and Stripes uniforms — replaces the previous painting of Obama, Bill Cosby, late D.C. music icon Chuck Brown and local radio host Donnie Simpson.
“It’s surreal to look up and you think about certain things and wonder how you got here,” Wall said. “It’s definitely an honor to be in a mural on the wall of Ben’s Chili Bowl in a landmark spot of D.C. It’s cool to see all the fans giving us this support.”
Meanwhile Wall and Beal are readying for Game 1 of the team’s first-round playoff matchup against the Atlanta Hawks at Verizon Center on Sunday. The Wizards seek payback after the Hawks defeated them two years ago in the Eastern Conference semifinals when an injury forced Wall to miss the final three games of the series.
“We’re very excited for it,” Wall said. “The last two playoff [runs] we played, we started on the road, so to get a home game to begin it is great. This is a different ballgame in the playoffs. Every possession counts and you have a different focus. There’s no joking around. You have to lock in.”
Wall and Beal signed hats, basketballs and jerseys and even took a few selfies with fans such as Mark Bellinger of Northwest.
“Seeing Brad is cool [but] I came to see my man John,” said Bellinger, 24. “I’ve followed his career since he’s been in the NBA.”
Afterward, the backcourt duo walked inside and chatted with the Ali family, owners of the diner, and some of the workers.
While Wall and Beal perused the diner, former Washington Bullets legend Phil Chenier arrived and stood outside to take a picture and sign a Gilbert Arenas Bullets jersey worn by Jerry Dessy of Beltsville, Maryland.
Although Dessy, 19, never saw Chenier’s silky-smooth jump shot, he listens to him and Steve Buckhantz broadcasts games on CSN Mid-Atlantic. The broadcast duo of 20 years worked their last regular-season game together Wednesday in Miami, as Chenier will go on to conduct other work for CSN and Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
“I’ve heard [Chenier] and Steve Buckhantz my whole life. To see him in person was amazing,” said Dessy, who’s confident the Wizards will beat the Hawks. “I also got John Wall to sign my jersey, so it has been a great day.”