Michael Beasley sees himself as Hassan Whiteside's mentor
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside has been one of the great positive surprises of this NBA season, rising from obscurity to become a top rim protector and strong candidate for Most Improved Player honors. Unfortunately, Whiteside has recently allowed his emotions to get the better of him, earning some high-profile flagrant fouls and one notable suspension. The latter incident compelled franchise icon Dwyane Wade to claim that Whiteside has some growing up to do, and it's difficult to argue. He's the kind of volatile, high-potential player who could make an All-Star team or end up out of the league once again.
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The standard advice for young players in similar situations is to find a veteran mentor. According to one member of the Heat, Whiteside has done just that. However, the identity of said calming presence may shock you, because it's none other than well-traveled forward Michael Beasley. From Josh Baumgard for CBS Miami (via EOB):
When the Heat’s talented but sometimes immature center mentioned Beasley among the players mentoring him after getting ejected from two games in a one-week span, many were baffled. Beas hasn’t exactly had a glowing reputation in NBA circles but his reasoning makes a ton of tense.
“It’s funny because everybody looks at me or not even me, looks at a troublemaker, and really wouldn’t want him to hinder the success of anyone else,” Beasley said. “Then they look at a Dwyane Wade and then a LeBron James, well, that’s the perfect guy to listen to. Well not always. Sometimes you want to listen to the guy that’s been through some things, the guy that fell off the mountain and climbed back and really that’s what Hassan needed. That’s what I needed. That’s what I had in UD my first couple years, somebody that didn’t have the high road to take his whole career.”
We forgive any readers who reject Beasley's claims to mentorship simply due to his history. The still just 26-year-old Beasley has stood out as either a problem child or questionably focused goofball at every stop in his NBA career. It would seem that he would at least have to prove his own maturity to mentor a player in need of guidance. For that matter, Beasley and Whiteside — himself roughly five months younger than Beasley — aren't even in especially different situations right now. They were both given low-risk chances to prove themselves when their NBA, and they're doing their best to show that they deserve to stay. Heck, Whiteside probably has a better case than Beasley at this point.
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Nevertheless, Beasley may be a valuable confidant for Whiteside even if the normal mentor-apprentice relationship probably isn't the right model for their situation. While Beasley appears to have matured — he rightly noted that this is his last chance in the NBA — it figures that he stills need support during this important time in his life. Similarly, Whiteside needs help even if he has more clearly demonstrated his on-court value. It would behoove both players to draw on each other for support, discuss their experiences, and generally rely on each other when they need it.
In other words, it may be silly to talk up Beasley as some kind of purveyor of wisdom, but it makes plenty of sense to look at him as a useful presence. Plus, even the most experienced mentors learn plenty from their mentees. To paraphrase Wade Garrett, Whiteside can teach Beasley as much as Beasley can teach Whiteside.
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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!