NBA: Beasley meets the Heat
By Tim Reynolds
MIAMI ó By now, those who know anything about Michael Beasley probably are aware of his mischievous side.
The stories of his many transgressions are well-known. He filled a teammate’s shoes with toothpaste. He cut off a kindergarten classmate’s pigtail. He hid his grandmother’s dentures. And most recently, he’s a suspect in the investigation to determine who doused his sister’s dinner earlier this week with hot sauce.
Not exactly stuff that makes him Public Enemy No. 1.
“You know,” he said, an eyebrow raised, “I’m a kid.”
The Miami Heat hope to watch him become a man.
Beasley arrived in Miami on Friday, one night after the Heat used the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft on the scoring machine who left Kansas State after averaging 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds in his lone season there. He got the ultra-red-carpet treatment Miami gives to few, the sort of welcome from team president Pat Riley that only the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Eddie Jones and Brian Grant received for their South Beach arrivals.
“We will never draft a No. 1 or a No. 2 again because we’re going to win,” Riley said. “There will be no more lottery picks, we hope, in your career, Michael. And I can assure you that we are on the right path with that specific goal.”
Beasley wore a gray suit, took a seat on the dais and spent more than a minute looking around the arena’s rafters, mouth slightly open. He was fidgety and seemed even a tiny bit overwhelmed when 150 Heat employees in the stands gave him a raucous ovation.
“How’s everyone doing?” Beasley asked them, waving his left hand.
“Better now,” one yelled back.
Beasley has said he prides himself on being cool and collected, yet acknowledged Friday that, even though the draft is over, he’s still battling nerves.
“All my thoughts are just in a whirlwind right now,” Beasley said. “Is this real? I’m kind of scared of what’s coming next. … I knew that I might have been the No. 1 or No. 2 pick for a long time, but reality has set in. My life is changing dramatically. So I am a little surprised that I am this nervous.”
He’ll make $3.6 million as a rookie with the Heat, much more in endorsements and be asked to help Dwyane Wade turn Miami’s first-to-worst fortunes around.
He shrugged that off. Playing the game is the easy part, he says, then points out he has plenty to prove.
“On the court and off,” Beasley said, “I have a large chip on my shoulder.”
And really, why shouldn’t he?
Beasley was passed over for college player of the year honors, which went to North Carolina’s star Tyler Hansbrough ó a deserving choice, yet a choice that prompted many to suspect that Beasley simply didn’t win because he was a freshman.
He got passed over again Thursday, when the Chicago Bulls didn’t take him with the No. 1 pick.
“That’s bulletin board material for Michael Beasley,” said Bruce Shingler, the former Kansas State administrative assistant who will live with Beasley during his rookie season. “Michael Beasley always wants to be No. 1. That’s his demeanor. I love Derrick Rose’s game. I think he’s going to be a great pro. I love everything he brings to the game. But Michael Beasley is, by far, the best player in the country and the best player in the draft. He’ll show it, too.”
Beasley’s mother, Fatima Smith, said seeing her son get chosen second didn’t matter to her.
“He was picked No. 1,” Smith said, pointing to a Heat logo. “He was their No. 1 pick.”
Miami is vowing to do all it can to help Beasley acclimate to South Beach, one of the hottest of America’s hotspots. It’s a tempting place for anyone, not just instant millionaires who feel like they’re on top of the world.
Daequan Cook knows what it’s like to be a teenager who ends up going to the Heat in the first round of the NBA draft. That was his path a year ago.
His message for Beasley is simple.
“Stay humble,” Cook said. “Because a lot of players are not going to respect you automatically.”
For weeks, Beasley heard about all his purported “issues,” and cringed when reminded that the final days of the draft with laden with reports that the Heat didn’t want to take him because they weren’t enthralled with his supposed character flaws.
Those stories were all based on unnamed sources, and all were strongly denied by the Heat, a tightlipped organization that wasn’t talking publicly at all and had at least one executive calling the tales “absurd.”
Still, though Riley told Beasley to ignore whatever he was hearing, it all stung the 19-year-old.
“He has a love for the game that is unlike any other,” Shingler said.