Even if you can't appreciate the aesthetics of the game, or you think nobody gives 100% during the regular season, or you think the officiating is fixed, you have to love the NBA for this much: In no other pro sport would a GM justify an acquisition by saying, "Well, you know, he was smoking too much weed in Miami. Now, he's not."
But in the NBA, thanks to the almost tragic-candor of David Kahn, that just happened:
"He's a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana and has told me that he's not smoking anymore. ... He is growing up -- he's not grown up. He's 21 ... and he just turned 21 last January, and if you think back, as I do all the time, to when I was 21 and if you had given me this kind of money and put me in this kind of world with these kinds of pressures attached to it and some of the demands, I don't know (that) I would have handled it any easier than, say, he has."
"I think that if Michael was 25 or 26, maybe I would have felt differently about things. But I feel very strongly that some of these kids simply deserve the opportunity to make mistakes and grow up. The issue is, will they learn from their mistakes? Will they grow from them? In Michael's case, there's no evidence yet to suggest he won't, meaning that he should be able to grow from these mistakes."
But by far the strangest part of the story? Um, David Kahn's maybe right on this one.
If he lacks the ideal height or athleticism to excel at any given position in the NBA, Michael Beasley's still a player with enormous amounts of innate gifts as a basketball player, and in the summer of LeBron—where Beasley was one of the only obstacles to forming the
douchebag superstar triptych on South Beach—those gifts have become obscured a little bit.
Is he a franchise cornerstone? Probably not.
But given Miami's desperation to deal him and the subsequent lack of interest across the league, you'd think Michael Beasley had some form of the basketball black plague. He's played two seasons. He's 21. He spent much of the first season battling substance abuse, and much of the second learning how to live without it. He can still score around the basket, hit open jumpers, rebound, and eventually, might even learn defense.
It's certainly possible that he'll never live up to his billing as the a former-no. 2 overall pick—especially if the substance abuse recurs—but a rebirth as a star isn't out of the question, either.
Can't believe I'm agreeing with David Kahn less than a week after he was proselytizing about Darko Milcic, but it's a solid gamble, and for exactly the reasons he outlined. Crazy.