Everybody likes a comeback story, especially if that story involves someone that has been brought down from a place of esteemed height at one point. What people also like is a story of positive transformation. That brings us to the Miami Heat’s two biggest offseason acquisitions, Greg Oden and Michael Beasley.
Oden and Beasley have had two very different career paths, but both feature the same disappointment from previous teams and fans.
Former draft status notwithstanding, the equally troubled duo have hopes of resurrecting their careers and making a team that has all the ingredients to succeed with or without them. Oden hasn’t seen an NBA court since December 5, 2009, due to a seemingly infinite number of knee surgeries. On the other hand, Beasley has been healthy enough to play but has squandered his opportunities and forced himself out of town on three separate teams. He has been mired in off-the-court troubles and uninspired play. Now the team that originally drafted him has brought him back for part two.
Oden’s story is that of a nice, young (older looking) man trying to find his way back through a minefield of knee injuries. Beasley comes off (maybe unintentionally so) as the bad boy who may not even really like basketball but plays because people say he can.
You don’t have to blindly buy into either way of thinking. But after speaking to both of them and some of their teammates at the Heat’s media day, it shed some light on both players.
“I got a lot to prove to myself. It’s been a long road for me. I’ve been rehabbing for three years” said Oden when asked about his role and if he felt he needed to live up to expectations.
“When I am finally in that first game — even if I play five minutes — just to be able to end the game and be healthy that’s going to be a big step for me.” Sincerity and humility, with only the slightest chaser of confidence, stirs in his voice with that statement.
You can tell his heart is heavy after his knee has failed him one time too many. He just wants to play and become more than just a nice guy who has had some bad breaks.
Beasley was asked a similar question and shrugged his previous mistakes off as part of life. When asked if he had any regrets, Beasley simply said, “No” with both sincerity, confidence and an edge of defiance. While it might be easy to scratch one’s head at his seemingly cavalier attitude towards previous transgressions, further comments show Beasley might be growing.
“Is my career where I want it to be? Not by a long shot,” he said.
“But is my career a total disappointment? No. I’m happy with where I’m at so far, It’s just a different path to the top.
“Coming to a team that has been at the top of the league in scoring, my (offensive) niche doesn’t carry much weight here. So I have to find a new niche. I have got to find a new style and way to play.”
Beasley has a good-natured personality but it takes the right questions to bring that out. Certainly one does not want to be cross examined about his/her mistakes, but the life of an athlete lends itself to such scrutiny. Beasley isn’t a regular Joe with a 9-5 job at a department store. That’s what he sometimes fails to realize.