Michael Beasley during his 4-12 night on January 24 (Getty Images)
On Jan. 24, the Phoenix Suns came through with an expertly timed nationally televised win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The team played sound all-around basketball and moved to 2-0 under interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. Even though the team roared out to a 7-8 start to the 2012-13 campaign, this win was probably a season-long highlight. Especially considering the storm and stress surrounding the team in the days leading up to it.
Michael Beasley shot 4 for 12 in that win, scoring just eight points despite the opportunity to launch double-figure shots. He then celebrated the win, according to Scottsdale, Ariz., police and ArizonaSports.com, by driving in a Mercedes without a valid driver’s license, going 71 miles per hour in a zone that only allowed for a speed limit of 45. The Mercedes did not have a license plate, or a temporary tag. Also, there was a gun in the car.
Beasley was not impaired. Not by drugs or alcohol, at least. From ArizonaSports.com:
According to a report obtained through a FOIA request, it has been learned that Suns forward Michael Beasley, on January 25, was pulled over by Scottsdale Police due to speeding down Scottsdale Road at about 1:10 a.m.
He was cited for driving with a suspended license, driving with excessive speed, driving with expired registration and failure to display a license plate on the rear of the vehicle. Driving with a suspended license and excessive speeding are criminal traffic violations, whereas driving with expired registration and failure to display a license plate are civil traffic violations.
According to the report, the officer noticed Beasley to have "slow speech and slow responses", but said no when asked if he had had anything to drink or taken any medications or drugs.
The officer said Beasley said "no, not really" when asked if he knew why he was stopped, and when told of his rate of speed said he didn't realize he was going so fast.
The report states the officer then asked if there were any drugs, guns, weapons or knives in the vehicle, to which Beasley said there was a gun in the center armrest in the back seat. The officer asked Beasley if he could "retrieve the weapon until the traffic stop was complete", and he complied.
According to the report, the gun was a Taurus 45 caliber that was loaded with one bullet in the chamber.
(He was going 71 in a 45, and answered “no, not really” when asked if he knew why he was being pulled over.)
The gun control debate is a necessary though wearying one, but all but the most ardent of arms supporters would probably get behind attempting to deny legal ownership of a gun to someone like Beasley, who not only has a criminal record but a years-long litany of bad choices to his name.
Beasley’s gun, as far as the report states, was registered and legal to own and operate. Why he needs one to defend himself against those noted Scottsdale carjackers is beyond me. Then again, I’m the guy that thinks getting in a car without a license plate is strange behavior to begin with. And I’m also the aggressive driver with a love of motorsport and owner of two car magazine subscriptions who loves speed, but also thinks that 51 in a 45 is pushing it, much less 71.
Beasley’s spotty track record began before he played his first NBA game, as the No. 2 pick in the 2008 Draft was fined $50,000 for his role in a marijuana-related incident at the Rookie Transition Program in 2008. He spent time in a substance abuse treatment center in 2009 before the Heat traded him to the Timberwolves after just two seasons. Upon acquiring Beasley, Timberwolves GM David Kahn called him ”a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana” before he arrived in Minnesota. Beasley was later pulled over for speeding and cited for marijuana possession by Minnesota police during the 2011 lockout. He also shoved a fan in the face during a lockout exhibition game in New York and launched a lawsuit against his former AAU coach, alleging that he had received improper benefits during his one season at Kansas State.
On the court? In spite of his average contract, he remains a millstone for the Suns. One who seems unrepentant about shooting an endless series of low-percentage shots and rarely getting to the free throw line, and one who may or may not believe in the existence of free-throw gremlins.
''I'm just playing aggressive,'' Beasley said. ''I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. No more nonchalant Beas. I'm back to the Beast.''
It’s true that Beasley had been playing — or, at least, “scoring” — better in the five games leading up to this comment. In the two games since those comments, though, in spite of a 24-point night on Saturday? He’s missed 24 of 36 shots from the field, and only taken three free throws despite having the ball in his hands so much.
Yes, there was that 24-point night on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors, but what’s the point when you need 23 shots (and, presumably, far more possessions) to get to 24 points? The Suns lost that game by 20. Lindsey Hunter’s team has gone 1-4 after winning its first two under his guidance, and that season highlight against the Clippers.
On Monday evening, the Suns announced that Beasley will receive no team-sponsored penalty for what they termed “motor-vehicle infractions.” I wonder how their fans feel about the squad glossing over an Arizona resident being caught going 71 in a 45.
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