Once upon a time, Michael Beasley was a can’t-miss future NBA superstar. But just two years after being drafted No. 2 overall, he was deemed expendable in Miami and traded to Minnesota for next to nothing. Aiming to silence critics who label him a bust, Beasley says he’s grown up now. Will his game grow along with him?
Ten games into this season, Beasley is averaging 20.5 points and 5.2 rebounds on 48 percent shooting from the field. Last week he dropped a new career-high 42 points on Sacramento, before pouring in 35 on New York and 25 on Atlanta over the weekend. For our Dime #60 NBA Preview issue, we got up with Beasley before the beginning of the rest of his career:
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Michael Beasley is not going to blow smoke.
He is not going to pretend his one-in-a-million talent is some kind of curse, that what he does on a basketball court has subjected him to a miserable life of invasive reporters and heckling fans and too much pressure to win at all costs. Pro athletes are not immune to the mental and psychological vulnerabilities of any human, but really? He who is tortured doth not have “Super Cool Bease” tattooed across his back from shoulder-to-shoulder, sitting atop another tat reading “God’s Son” between large angel wings.
Talent, in this case, is most certainly a gift.
Talent ushered Michael Beasley from the jagged edges of the Washington, D.C. area all the way to the NBA. Talent has earned him just under $9 million in two years as a pro, with another $4.9 million going into his bank account this season. And talent has bought him what the money cannot — at 21 years old, a second chance to have a career defined by labels like “All-Star” and “franchise player” instead of “bust.”
Beasley is entering his first season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In July, the 6-8 forward was traded by the Miami Heat in a middle-of-the-night agreement for a measly pair of future second-round draft picks, just two years after he was the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft. (Even Darko stuck with his original team longer than that.) Beasley averaged 14.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in Miami, but having yet to reach the 20-and-10 potential he seemed destined to fulfill following his lone college season at Kansas State — plus two well-publicized incidents off the court involving marijuana, and a stint in a drug rehab center — his nascent career is already at a crossroads.