Beasley says season in the background has changed him for the better

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game 6

Michael Beasley has yet to be active in The Finals and has been inactive in 10 of Miami’s 19 playoff games. (NBAE via Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – The Miami Heat’s main characters had taken their spots for media day at AT&T Center on the eve of the NBA Finals. Stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade entertained in the interview room. Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and other key cogs answered questions from behind podiums spaced around the perimeter of the floor.

Then there were the others, plopped down in the front row of seats along the corner of the court, just outside the sphere of the media’s interest. It was a fitting foursome: Greg Oden then Chris “Birdman” Andersen then Rashard Lewis then Michael Beasley. All four had signed with Miami within the last two seasons, eager to join LeBron and D-Wade for a championship ride, but also to seek a resurrection of sorts for careers that veered in different directions for differing reasons.

Only Beasley, the troubled, 25-year-old forward, sought something deeper: Salvation.

“I’ve seen him grow immensely, maturity‑wise, as a pro, on and off the court,” said Erik Spoelstra, the Heat’s rookie coach in 2008 when they drafted the 19-year-old Beasley No. 2 overall. “It’s really been ‑‑ it’s been cool to see.”

Even so, if judging solely by how Spoelstra has used him, it’s fair to wonder if Beasley, his disappointing career already dwindling by a thread, has failed in his pursuit. Some may have even forgotten he plays for the Heat. Few players are perceived so negatively by fans and media alike, with much of the scrutiny coming by way of his own missteps; a self-destructive path of poor decisions off the court and a sliding, seemingly increasingly lazy effort on it through his first five seasons spent with three teams.

Yet despite never realizing a rotation niche this season, and being inactive more often than not during the postseason, Beasley is adamant that this second stint with Miami has served as a vessel for personal growth.

“I’ve learned a lot, not just from LeBron and Dwyane, but from Rashard, Udonis [Haslem], Birdman and Ray, a team full of veterans, a team full of future Hall of Famers,” Beasley told NBA.com from his front-row seat little more than a week ago. “Definitely a great move for my career, more on the mental side of things. I’ve learned a lot: How to do things the right way, how to have fun the right way, not to sweat the small stuff.

“I’ve worked. The thing I’ve learned above all else is how to win, what it takes to win, the attitude and dedication to work. You get tired, but once you get used to it, it’s like your body needs it.”

Those are words that might pique the interest of skeptical general managers as Beasley becomes an unrestricted free agent next month. Last summer, after an underwhelming first season in Phoenix, the Suns bought him out of his remaining two years and $12 million as legal issues swirled around him. It followed a flame-out with Minnesota, the team Miami traded him to for a couple of second-round picks two seasons after drafting him one spot behind Chicago’s Derrick Rose and ahead of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.

After the Suns cut ties, Beasley signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract with the two-time champion Heat, a team with established leaders and where Beasley believed he would be afforded the chance to reset his career, and his life, while removed from the daily pressures of the spotlight.

“Who doesn’t have a past? Who doesn’t have skeletons?” Beasley said. “It’s just my skeletons are in the open, not in the closet. So have I been unfairly portrayed? I can say yes, I can say no. Did I bring it on myself? Most definitely. But it’s the growing process in life, maturing, a grown boy turning into a young man.”

Beasley has yet to be active in The Finals and has been inactive in 10 of Miami’s 19 playoff games. He’s played a total of seven minutes in three games. During the regular season, he appeared in a career-low 55 games and averaged career-lows in points (7.9), rebounds (3.1) and minutes (15.1).

Yet, Beasley said: “Honestly, this season has flown by faster than any other I’ve been in. I don’t know why, I don’t know how. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun.”

The Heat had no fun in Games 3 and 4 in Miami and now head back to San Antonio for Sunday’s Game 5 in the unenviable position of trailing 3-1. After Game 4, Spoelstra was asked if Beasley could be an option in Game 5 to provide some much-needed scoring punch. While his playing time was sporadic, Beasley did record a career-high shooting percentage of 49.9 percent and 38.9 percent from beyond the arc, a better mark than only his rookie season.

Spoelstra didn’t give a direct answer, and in an indication as to how Beasley is still perceived, the questioner was roasted on Twitter by fans and also media covering The Finals for having even broached the subject.

“I shouldn’t say no. I do, but I’m not going to stress over it,” Beasley said when asked if he cares more now how others view him. “People who know me, my family, my kids, my closest friends, they know me. I’m not trying to get everybody to know that I’m a good guy, a great guy or whatever. At this point I’m just focused on playing basketball.”

Beasley has worked closely with Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard. Unlike past seasons, Beasley is said to arrive early for practice and stays late, cues he said he immediately gleaned from the team’s veterans. He is said to listen intently to coaches and teammates, and he hasn’t uttered a peep about being limited to an end-of-bench role.

He even pays more attention to nutrition when in the past a pregame meal of chicken strips and french fries from the concession stand would do.

“Everything that we’ve discussed privately, everything that we’ve been working on individually and also with other coaches, he’s been grasping it, and he’s been enjoying it and working hard at it,” Howard said. “That right there, that’s how I judge Michael.”

After he signed with the Heat, Beasley hired a new agent. Beasley said he is solely focused on finishing out this season and declined to answer if he’d be willing to sign a deal similar to his current one to remain with the Heat. His agent, Jared Karnes, said there have been no discussions yet with Miami president Pat Riley.

Beasley did make one declarative statement: He will be sticking around in the NBA.

“Definitely,” Beasley said. “There’s still some immaturity about me, but that’s what keeps it light. I’m a goofy, fun-loving guy, I like to think so myself anyway. But you’re definitely going to see a different me.”

It’s up to Beasley to make believers.

18 Comments

  1. billybob says:

    it’s too late.

    he should have use him way before

  2. pacersbandwagon says:

    beasley will help the heat with the greatest finals comeback in nba history

  3. Ross says:

    they should get Melo, and while they are at it, Kevin Love as well, that way they can win rings year in and year out. but for what Glory?? Absolutely nothing. Simply put, LBJ can’t win it all even with extra stars around him. Spurs basketball.. the way the game be played, not centred on any stars.

  4. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    Another questionable decision by Spoelstra… What was the point of getting rid of Mike Miller to avoid paying a couple million dollars in luxury tax so that they can have the cap space to sign Oden & Beasley and neither of them play…I don’t understand why…

  5. hammar says:

    Time is burning out for the Heat. All are in favor of win or all will be moving out.

  6. TheKush says:

    Beasley is the biggest disappointed in NBA history worse than Kwame Brown ever was. We all watched him and KD in the early days and at the very least I would have expected Beasley to be an average nba player averaging at least 12 points per game. I don’t care about his personal life we all have problems at least he had the chance to let out his stress on the court he threw that out the window because he’s lazy!

    He makes me sick because there are tons of very good ballers out there that should replace him. In my view he’s the biggest disappointment in nba history. The Heat look tired last game and last year they could have thrown Mike Miller out there to make a couple 3’s now they only have Ray Allen and Lewis. Beasley is doing nothing. I don’t care what anyone says Chris Bosh is not an hall of famer. Again Tim Duncan is owning him and Tim Duncan is like 10 years older than him and Bosh is in his prime. I’ve seen several great players own Chris Bosh

    If Bosh was in the west he wouldn’t make the all star team and he would be exposed.

    Dwyane Wade is no longer a great player he’s a very good player and LBJ has to do too much for the Miami Cavaliers!

    Personally I think the Heat are playing the spurs all wrong defensively that “help the helper” defense makes the spurs offense look better than it really is. I would force the spurs point guards to beat me. I don’t remember Tony Parker ever scoring 60 points? When you play that help the helper defense against the spurs you fall prey to their 3 point trap.

    The spurs don’t have any dominant players they have a great team with two players that can take over a game. With that said kawhi leonard has been spectacular! If he plays like that in another game the heat are toast. I don’t think the problem is offense I just think the heat are playing the spurs all wrong on defense.

    Dallas took the Spurs to a game 7 for a reason I think rick carlisle is a lot smarter than people give him credit for. Dallas beat the heat the exact same way the spurs are beating them now! I’ve never thought of Spoelstra as good coach like Mike Brown he’s lucky enough to have LBJ on his side.

    Hopefully the heat will wake up; their last game put me to sleep! I expect better and I don’t give a damn about Beasley professional sports is filled with losers that didn’t know how good they had it until it was taken from them. The new generation of ballers will learn from Beasley’s buffoonery!

  7. John says:

    Beasley will be back next season as our starting SF and finally play the game as college….so we believe whatever happens this season we believe. James will be change to PG and be the next Magic Johnson ( 6’10 PG ) and finally we get a Center in the draft or in FA this season Bosh at PF and Wade at SG and them we be again in the Finals so I trust in Riley and Beasley will be a Heat for life.

  8. John says:

    Beasly needs playing time right now and why not be starter in game 5 at 4 against Duncan. We know Duncan is the greaster PF ever played this game but he is unable to guard Beasly or James if they both play their game. Come on coach is time for Beasly and Oden to show up and we can make a greastest come back in finals ever and win again this year…Cole for starter and Beasly and use Douglas over Chalmers and get involve Oden and Haslem to stop the Spurs at some point. Battier to bench and let’s play hard Heat..now is win or win …we are the champs unless Spurs beat us in 5 or 6 or 7 we still are the champs. Riley come on get some respect and apply the change coach Spo is your disciple and now he knows he needs you in how to beat Spurs in a great come back. I still believe in our team Let’ s go Heat !!!!!

  9. Well God bless him I wish him well

  10. FLASH3@heat says:

    Agree,,i also dont understand why Beasley is not even in the active list..i think he will be a game changer if given 20 to 30 mins..as a Filipino we’re so proud of you COACH SPO but in your decision of not playing BEASLEY i think you made a big mistake..pls giv him one last chance,,

  11. Ozzy says:

    I definitely feel Beasley could be the x factor for the Heat to have anychance of actually coming back to win this series.

    It’s weird when people roast the reporter on twitter when I feel he brought up a legitimate question. I don’t know how Spoelstra responded but I would say it’s foolish to not consider putting Beasley.

    They’re down to their last game and havd been putrid offensively, more so than on the defensive end.

    Beasley can show the nation that he’s here to say and can prove that he indeed has changed for the better. Everyone besides Lebron and Udonis needs to step up and I truly feel Beasley has been the overlook cog in the rotation.

    pg-wade
    sg-lebron
    sf-beasley
    pf-andersen
    c-bosh

    Leonard has emerged as a legitimate two way player and the only way to neutralize him is with Beasley.

    • flash says:

      I’m a fan of Miami , i know and we all know that heat are great team , great players but coach , i honestly he know how to be coach , but not become a hall of fame coach. game 3 you lost because popo adjust his line up put diaw instead of tiago , i know that spo will adjust his first five in game 4 but no adjust so the game and score same. he need to be mind game. put haslem, bosh, james, allen and cole … and wade , birdman, and chalmers of the bench . then after 4 to 5 mins he can put wade in the line up for fire power… hope u see my msg …. spoelstra

      • flash says:

        u had battier, oden and beasley to complee our line up, u need to trust your player… spo. u become champion bec your line are too good and not with you , hope pat riley will handle GAME 5, please you are the only one can match the talent of popo…. popo/pjackson/riley i think they are equalled in coaching … spo too far , sorry spo thats i seeing to you, no adjustment in the game.

  12. SPURS GREATNESS says:

    If I was Coach Spoelstra, I would have allowed Beasley to play some minutes.

    But since he didn’t, that’s okay with me too.

    GO SPURS GO !!

  13. Roberto says:

    I Thimk that Beasley must will be at the 5,6 and 7th. games, with James, Bosh, Wade and Andersen… After inrerchange with

    Haslem, Allen Douglas and Norris Cole …

    Beasley will be one of the best player in this next games…..

    If not, only a miracle will permit that our Heat win ……..

  14. Melo-To-Houston says:

    Great article. I for one believe this series is done, but if there is anything that can change that, its inserting Beasley at the 4 on Diaw. The difference between the Heat and Spurs, when you run at the Heat, they are looking for an escape dribble into a pull-up jumper. When you run out at the Spurs, they are looking to attack and go straight to the hoop and either finish, or draw defenders and swing till the ball finds the open man. With Beasleys capability to spread the floor, mixed with his athletic ability to finish strong at the rim….he can be a nightmare on the floor with James, Wade, Bosh and Allen.

  15. Foley says:

    Beasley should have been a regular on the Miami line up all season learning how to play with LBJ. Erik is a great coach but is biggest flaw is lack of vision. The Spurs who literally created the maintenance program Miami tried to copy for Wade however they understood that in other to win they also needed young legs. This is what Beasley could have brought to the table. LBJ makes everyone one around him better and B easy could have been a super star by now. Love Wade & Ray but there is only so much they can do and really don’t need any mentoring from James. Such a wasted opportunity to get the best out Beasley. We knew the Heat were clearly not a better team than the Spurs all season but they did not change course and now have themselves to blame. Spo will be crazy not to play Beasley for game 5. He is their best chance of changing the dynamics. It will be a tall task for him to have an impact with Spurs in such a zone. B easy hope you stayed ready. Miami needs a miracle !

    • flash says:

      Miracle ??? well can but too hard, bec popo are too good in adjusting the game easily not like spo…but me i hope miami can win atleast 2 games so that they can say they are defending champion they gave spurs hard time …. or game 7 fight.. James dont listen to the fans that saying u are the reason losing heat or talking bad words to you…. i know you are just a human but remember you are and idol and icon of many people around the world , so close your ears and show them that you are future hall of fame player . good luck miami what ever happen miami forever ….