By Sam Hart | @the_line_131
Sometimes in life people deserve a second chance. A third, even. Perhaps a fourth. But a fifth? A sixth?
On Wednesday the Miami Heat made their second eyebrow-raising signing of the off-season, following the lifeline handed to injury-riddled former number one Draft pick Greg Oden, welcoming Michael Beasley back to South Florida.
On Draft night in 2008, Pat Riley and the Heat opted to take Beasley at number two, having missed out on Derrick Rose – a few years later, of course, a certain LeBron Raymone James turned up and everything worked out just fine in Miami, but it could have been so different for them five years ago. Chicago had only a 1.7% chance of actually getting the number one pick and they landed a future MVP award-winning franchise superstar. The Heat got Beasley.
They passed on O.J Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Danilo Gallinari and Eric Gordon, as well as Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert lower down the order. As well as the chance to trade the pick for a veteran. But at the time, it was smart. It was a no-brainer. Beasley’s marriage of length and athleticism, basketball I.Q and skill set was too hard to pass up on.
Now they’ve got him for a second time.
How? The Phoenix Suns cut Beasley from the team just one month after he was arrested for marijuana possession in Scottsdale back in August. With his career hanging in the balance, Miami cautiously picked him up.
He had been arrested under similar circumstances in 2011 in Minneapolis, both times having been pulled over by police who found a stash of the drug and drug paraphernalia in his car. Plus, back in ‘08, during the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program, he was allegedly responsible for setting off a fire alarm in a hotel room due to marijuana smoke and later had to pay a $50,000 fine to the NBA. The following summer, having admitted to substance abuse, he was in rehab.
His clown-like wild child behaviour that he exhibited as a youngster (it’s rumoured that he attended over 20 schools and was once found having sex with a girl in a Principal’s office) carried over into university and then the NBA. Low-level, mostly harmless stuff, sure, but immature and hardly professional.
Here’s the thing: at just 24 years old he still has incredible upside and potential. A versatile 6’10” forward who, on his best day, can get to the rim, make moves in the post and hit outside shots, not to mention average around 20 points per game.
If – and it’s a big if – he can get his head straight, he can be a valuable piece anywhere.
The general consensus was that if any team was going to take a chance on Beasley it would have to be an already-successful one. One used to winning, one with experienced leaders and strong characters residing in the locker room. And that’s what’s happened. Scratch beneath the surface and it’s potentially, like the Oden move, a low-risk stroke of genius. It’s a non-guaranteed contract for one year, something that was proposed, apparently, by the player, showing that even he knows it’s his last chance. And remember: this team are already by far and away the best in the League. Re-signing Beasley under these circumstances can really only be a positive for the current Champions.
It’s fair to say the jury’s out on the former Kansas State freshman and he has much to prove. Many see this latest misdemeanour in Arizona as the straw that broke the camel’s back. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith put it pretty much perfectly: “My problem is, it’s South Beach. If you can’t behave in Phoenix and you can’t behave in Minnesota, how are you going to find the incentive to behave yourself in South Beach?”
That incentive should be the opportunity to play with the greatest player in the world, immediately challenge for a Championship, and all of that with the team that originally made all of your NBA hopes and dreams come true. But only Beasley can take control of his own future, knuckle down, understand the opportunity that he’s been given and prove everybody wrong…
We shall see.