(Author’s Note: The following is just an opinion piece. I have never spoken to Michael Beasley, nor do I know him. I’m writing this as if I were him, giving a perspective on the way he might possibly see things.)
You are Michael Beasley.
You look around and notice the lights are brighter. The stakes are higher. The goal of a greater glory is within your grasp.
You are Michael Beasley, and you are but a mere spectator on the grand stage.
You sit there watching the game that you love, yearning for that one chance to prove your worth. You hear the whispers of the fans wondering why you are not out there. You feel that you’re just as talented – if not more – than some of the players playing in this Eastern Conference Finals. Rashard Lewis? Dude isn’t what he was a few years back, but he’s out there getting important minutes. Shane Battier? Ha! Have you seen how awkward he is driving to the basket? And what’s with shooting from his tippy-toes?
On the other side, the Indiana Pacers are throwing guys like George Hill and Rasual Butler out there. You know that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t think you’re a good defender, but he could at least hide you on those guys. Wait, is that Evan Turner??? He gets to play for a little bit, while you have to find something in common with Justin Hamilton?
Problem is, you know that Spoelstra is a “defense first” guy, and the numbers he covets don’t support you. Although you have an offensive rating of 106.9 per 100 possessions while you’re out there playing, your defensive rating is 107.9 per 100 possessions. To your advantage, if you sort the rankings (and not counting DeAndre Liggins’ epic stint with the team), by points per 48 minutes, your third (THIRD!) on the team with 25.2. That’s better than Chris Bosh (great, now you’ve given those people that dislike Bosh ammunition)! Problem is that the team is a – 45 when you’re playing. Stupid metrics. Who came up with all that stuff, anyway?
Even though Ray Allen might not be able to play tonight, coach is looking at James Jones, or maybe going with both Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole at the same time. Jones has the trust of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade – as well as Spoelstra – and their word is the law. Even though everyone yells at Chalmers, he’s proven that he can win on the big stage, and plays like he thinks he’s The Man.
Maybe Spoelstra doesn’t want you to take a step into the spotlight out of fear that you might stumble and lose confidence. Just look at the fact that you didn’t play a lot in the so-called “marquee games”, with the exception of San Antonio (maybe he’s saving you as a secret weapon for the Finals!). You played less than one total minute vs. Indiana; you only played in on the game against the Thunder – less than 8 minutes in the Heat’s blowout win in Oklahoma City; you never got into either Clippers game. You never even got into the Christmas Day game against the Lakers. To make matters worse, you only averaged 6.7 minutes against the Knicks. The Knicks! They weren’t even good!
You are Michael Beasley, and you know some of the issues stem from the fact you come with baggage. You know that’s in the back of everyone’s mind. Everyone is pulling for you to get it right, that maybe they treat you with kid gloves. You were fined multiple times in 2009 for violating team policies. You under-achieved in the 2010 Playoffs when you went for 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds against Boston. You were expendable when the Heat signed LeBron and Bosh, fetching only two-second round picks from Minnesota.
But you bounced back. With the Timberwolves, you averaged 19.2 points per game in 2010-11. However injuries got the better of you, limiting you to 47 games during the Lockout-shortened season of 2011-12. Phoenix even opened the wallet for you, by giving you $18 million over 3 years to sign with them. Thing is, you got busted for possession after one year, which was enough for the Suns to get rid of you, even though they still had to pay you.
You are Michael Beasley, and you had one foot out of the NBA. Your shot at living your dream was fading. But that’s when Pat Riley stepped in. He was willing to bring you in and give you a chance. The catch was you had to earn your spot. Your deal wouldn’t be guaranteed until January, so Miami could get rid of you at any time prior to that. But you worked hard, showed flashes of the talent that makes you Michael Beasley.
Here you are. The Eastern Conference Finals. You’ll sit on the bench, watching the game you love. You’ll keep loose and keep your eyes and ears open while the coaches draw up plays. But, most importantly, you’ll wait for your time to come; you’re name to be called. You want to earn your spot. What better way to do it than by helping the Heat earn their spot in the Finals, you think to yourself.
You are a new Michael Beasley.
And you’re ready to re-introduce yourself to the world.