For several years, forward Michael Beasley has stood out as a notable NBA draft bust, the sort of player who has been unable to turn his considerable talent into anything resembling a consistent career. This season, Beasley finds himself back with his first team, the Miami Heat, which brought him in on a non-guaranteed deal that would pay him $1 million if he makes the team out of training camp. It's a low-risk move for Miami, as well as a chance for Beasley to find a role with a championship squad with aspirations to win a third-straight title. He could learn something.
On Thursday night, Beasley made his preseason debut, scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field in just over nine minutes of play in the Heat's 112-107 win over the Detroit Pistons. While those numbers indicate some positives, the real story does not show up in the box score. From Joseph Goodman for the Miami Herald (via The Point Forward):
Michael Beasley is pretty hard on himself sometimes. Beasley received his first minutes of playing time and he was great. He scored nine points in his first five minutes of action and was diving on the floor and doing things coaches generally like to see out of players trying to make a roster. Of course, Beasley also did something a little odd after one offensive play. Upset with himself over missing a shot, Beasley started punching himself in the head while running back on defense. He punched himself so hard that he needed treatment after the game from the Heat's trainer. Steel compresses (like the ones cut doctors use in boxing) were applied to Beasley's brow in the locker room.
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel confirmed the story and added these quotes from Beasley:
"It was fun," the energetic forward said. "I didn't think I was going to play. It was the first time back. I'm trying to find my way."
Having missed Monday's preseason-opening victory over the visiting Atlanta Hawks with a bruised calf, Beasley spent the bulk of his minutes alongside the likes of Jones, Ray Allen, Jarvis Varnado and Norris Cole. He appeared both anxious and winded at times, closing with those nine points in addition to two rebounds in 9 minutes, 18 seconds.
He said he was disappointed about getting a quick foul upon entering, missing a defensive rotation and failing to come up with a blocked shot on Pistons guard Will Bynum, slapping himself in the head so hard at one point that he required postgame treatment from trainer Jay Sabol.
"Overall," he said, "I give myself a B-minus, C-plus. I'm just trying to teach myself to do everything hard."
This bizarre story is somehow both alarming and promising. On one hand, Beasley has a reputation for being a bit absent-minded, and I'm pretty sure that hitting yourself in the head so hard that it requires medical treatment qualifies as more of the same. However, Beasley only did so because he was torn up about performing well and even proclaimed his desire to play hard after the game. It could be that he's turned over a new leaf. After all, it's not as if he got impressively blown out hair stuck in an elevator.
With the Heat rotation fairly well established, Beasley's potential addition to the regular season roster stands as the biggest story of their camp. It feels necessary, then, to ensure that this very weird, ultimately newsworthy story does not overshadow the fact that he's fighting for his basketball future. If we take Beasley at his word, then this self-inflected injury likely had more to do with his desire to prove himself than any sideshow antics.