Marijuana is not Michael Beasley's problem. It is easy to point to the drug as the figurehead of Beasley's issues because it has been a consistent presence in much of his negative press (Sports by Brooks). But to single out weed as the nucleus of the 24-year-old Phoenix Suns forward's issues is like blaming the internet for cyber-bullying.
The action is a product of a trait that exists in the person, the cyber misconduct—and in Beasley's case, the weed usage—is just the vehicle.
Were it not weed or online intimidation, chances are there would be some other ill-advised activity that showed the world there is a deeper problem. Most recently, Beasley was arrested in Scottsdale, Ariz. for possession of what police believe to be marijuana on Aug. 5, per ESPN. This was a terrible blow to Beasley's basketball future.
The Suns are reportedly contemplating releasing him, per John Gambadoro of Arizona Times. Previous issues with marijuana had prompted Beasley to vow he was done with the drug, per ESPN Twin Cities' Tom Pelissero, but if the reports are completely factual, he has gone back on his word.
Beasley isn't a depraved or mean-spirited person, by most accounts. Most people wouldn't consider a person with his issues as such. Many critics just take shots at Beasley and other self sabotagers labeling them nuts or eternal screw ups. Beasley's problems seems to be more based in a lack of self control.
Looking at his history of inexplicable behavior, the problem could require professional help.
His path is especially dangerous because many of his vices and less-than ideal character traits have been acceptable in many forums. Acceptance has been even higher because of how talented he is athletically. Perhaps that is the reason he's never gotten the help he needs.
Beasley grew up with Kevin Durant in Washington, D.C. Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt told Percy Allen of the Seattle Times this of her son's childhood friend back in 2008: "He [Beasley] was a good kid. He was fun-loving. He liked to have a good time. His personality is not as serious as Kevin. He was always well-mannered. I never had a problem with Mike."
This quote was made just before Beasley was selected No. 2 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat, one of three teams Beasley has played for in his brief career.
Pratt's sentiments can be seen in this video of the two friends from 2008, per beasy video on YouTube.
While Pratt's comments may seem like a harmless description of a young man, it falls in line with a trend that seems to define the true source of Beasley's missteps.
In college and in high school, Beasley was known as a jokester and clown to a fault. Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun-Sentinel observed Michael Beasley and Pat Riley, the man who ultimately took him with the second pick in the 2008 NBA Draft during a pre-draft workout. He wrote:
Riley was seated in the first row of the balcony Friday at the Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports, so it was difficult to get close enough to hear if that grinding sound was the Heat president gnashing his teeth. Below, Michael Beasley was having fun, kidding around on a side court with a few wild shots while other draft prospects were fighting for their pro lives.
As a few top prospects joined the workout, Beasley remained alone. The former Kansas State power forward said he took the wrong bus over, was waiting for his assigned group. All the while, he joked with players, smiled, carried himself as without a care in the world.
Beasley's high school coach—one of them at least, he transferred several times as a prep star—Steve Smith of the famed Oak Hill Academy has his own stories of Beasley's less-than ideal behavior. In an article written by Eli Saslow of the Washington Post, Smith talks about his time with Beasley. Per Saslow, Smith blamed Beasley's behavior on immaturity.
He too spoke of Beasley's good heart, but he had to draw the line for him to set a standard of behavior. Smith had suspended Beasley from the team for writing his name on several lockers throughout the school. Actions Beasley said he did just because he thought it was fun. What happened next? Saslow writes:
So, with two weeks left in the school year, Smith offered his star player one final chance: He told Beasley that, to be invited back to Oak Hill, he needed to impress administrators with flawless end-of-year behavior.
Two days later, Beasley signed his name in black ink on the principal's truck, Smith said.
"He'll definitely try your patience," Smith said. "You look at him physically and he's a full-grown man, and you think he's going to make good decisions all the time. But a lot of times, he just didn't."
Apparently, this trend still hasn't changed.
According to Smith, during an important practice session before a big game, the coach told his team to lean in and listen to instruction. All the players except Beasley took heed. Beasley reportedly began shouting and being disruptive. His teammates laughed, but Smith simply shook his head.
Is anyone in the world that much of a clown? It is unlikely. Newly-acquired veteran Caron Butler has volunteered to mentor Beasley, per Jeff Caplan of NBA.com—should the latter remain with the team. Butler's beginnings weren't ideal, so it would seem that he could be of some assistance to Beasley.
At some point, Beasley has to get help for his self-control issue which could stem from an undiagnosed behavioral issue or some other as of yet addressed problem.
Here's to hoping he's able to handle his issues. Sometimes, you have to get to the root to kill the weed.
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