One of the toughest things for a young professional athlete is living up to the hype that is pressed upon them. For those who can’t, there is a term for these players.
For NBA player and 11-year veteran Michael Beasley, the trials and tribulations he has endured have made it difficult for him to live up to expectations and fight off being labeled a bust.
Where it all began
The lofty expectations placed upon Beasley come from being selected number two overall in the 2008 NBA draft by the Miami Heat. However, his journey did not start on draft night, rather it was in his high school days where he bounced around seven different high schools.
He eventually landed at Oak Hill Academy, a prep school known for producing NBA stars like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, and many others. Just like other schools, he was dismissed from there and would travel to another state and another prep school landing at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts where he would earn his high school diploma.
Beasley was then giving the invitation to play in the famed McDonald’s All-American game, where the nation’s best high school players face-off against one another. In that game, Beasley would take home the MVP title as he went on to score a game high 23 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
Even though he was labeled as a ‘trouble-maker’ and ‘jokester’ at a young age, it did not seem to be an issue in the eyes of the ESPN recruiting rankings. In the 2007 ESPN 100 rankings for high school prospects, Beasley was ranked eighth, ranking ahead of NBA stars in this class like Blake Griffin (ranked 18th), James Harden (ranked 21st), and DeAndre Jordan (25th).
Dominance in College
Unfortunately for Michael Beasley, his antics in high school hindered several big name colleges from seriously considering him as a recruit. With offers from UNC Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Kansas State, Beasley decided on Kansas State due to the developed relationship between then first time head coach and future lifelong friend Frank Martin.
In his first and only college season, Beasley would go on to dominate earning several accolades including 1st Team All-America honors, 1st Team Big 12 honors, a Wooden Award Finalist, Big 12 Player of the Year, and USBWA Freshman of the Year honors.
Michael Beasley filled the stat sheet like no other freshman, finishing the year ranked third in the nation with 26.2 points per game and first in the nation with 12.4 rebounds per game.
Kansas State would go on to make the NCAA tournament that season as the 11th seed and would upset number six seeded USC in the first round. Beasley accumulated 23 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
In the next round against Wisconsin, the Wildcats would get blown out, but Beasley would shine yet again with another 23 point outing while bringing down 13 rebounds.
That solo season was enough for Beasley to declare for the 2008 NBA draft and unlike many of the big-time college programs, several NBA teams drooled over Beasley in the scouting process.
NBA promise quickly clouded
The 2008 NBA draft saw several high profile names taken, with several of their careers seeming to take off to the stratosphere only to take a steep spiral down towards earth.
Taken number one overall was Derrick Rose, who became the best player in the NBA earning 2010-2011 MVP honors only to be riddled with lower body injuries since his ACL tear in the 2012 NBA playoffs.
O.J. Mayo was selected third overall and was out of the league in eight years and battled failed drug tests, one after another which led to the NBA banning him for two years.
Selected between Rose and Mayo was Michael Beasley by the Miami Heat.
As a lottery pick for Miami, the expectation for him was to step in and be the complementary piece to Dwyane Wade. Sadly, that did not work out and Beasley quickly found his way into trouble.
While taking part in a Rookie Transition Program for the Miami Heat, Michael Beasley was a part of an incident that involved teammates Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur. The situation involved breaking a team rule of having females in the players room along with a heavy smell of marijuana coming from the rooms.
Beasley denied any involvement, but was fined $50,000 from the league and it was the beginning of what became a series of off the court issues.
Things got hot…then cold in Minnesota
Beasley managed to stay out of trouble for the most part in his rookie season, but his time in Miami was wearing thin on owner Pat Riley. Beasley was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves after his second year with the Heat for a second round pick and a swap of first round picks in an effort for the Heat to free up cap space to land LeBron James.
In his first year in Minnesota, Michael Beasley flourished and showed the talent that lived up to his high draft pick status. He finished with a career-high 19.2 PPG in his first year with Minnesota and collected his career-high in points in a game with 42 in only his eighth game of the year.
Unfortunately for Beasley and the Timberwolves, the cops would pull Beasley over in the early morning hours of June 26th (after the 2010-2011 season concluded). He was initially pulled over for a speeding violation, but was later found with possession of marijuana.
In the same off-season, Beasley was involved in an incident at Dyckman Park in New York where he would get into a physical altercation involving a fan after playing in an exhibition game.
The following season, Beasley would not produce the same scoring output and would see his scoring average drop by 7.7 PPG. The spotlight and the glimmer of Beasley was beginning to fade rapidly.
One-year deals abound
Beasley then tested the free-agent waters when his rookie contract, for which he had been playing under, expired. He was offered a three-year $18 million contract by the Phoenix Suns and quickly signed on the dotted line.
After a steep decline in production, (career-worst 40.5 FG%) the Suns backed-out of their three-year commitment to Beasley and agreed to a buyout after just one season. The buyout total was finalized for seven million dollars.
The reason for the buyout and short stint in Phoenix stemmed from an arrest in Scottsdale, Arizona on August 3rd, where he had been pulled over and was found with marijuana in his possession, yet again.
After heading back to where it all started for him in Miami on a one-year one million dollar deal, Beasley would bring his antics along with him.
On January 25th, Michael Beasley was pulled over yet again for speeding. Only this time, he did not have his car registered or with plates attached while also carrying a loaded gun in the backseat.
No criminal actions were taken, but it was yet another incident the Heat were aware of and it would lead to him not earning another contract with Miami. Either it was that incident that led to him becoming a free-agent or his then career-low averages of 7.9 points and 3.1 rebounds.
He then signed a one-year deal with the Memphis Grizzles, but would not play a single game with the team after he was released just two-weeks later.
Beasley would go on to sign two 10-day contracts back with the team that drafted him in Miami before signing for the remainder of the season for 195k. After appearing in only 24 games for the Heat and averaging only 8.8 PPG and 3.7 RPG, the writing was on the wall that he would never receive another multi-year deal and would also never reach his expected stardom.
Following the season with the Heat, his most serious off-court issue became public.
Back in 2013, during his time with Pheonix, Beasley was accused of raping a female in Scottsdale. After Beasley’s claim of it being consensual and no evidence suggesting that he had committed any type of sexual assault, he was found innocent.
The Houston Rockets then threw their hat into the ring on the one-year deal sweepstakes for Beasley, to which he re-paid them with a solid bounce-back season with 12.8 PPG. However, he was later traded to Milwaukee for guard Tyler Ennis.
He did manage to stay out of trouble the next three seasons seasons with Houston, Milwaukee, the New York Knicks, and the Los Angeles Lakers which was a great sign.
It was while he was in New York where he showed flashes of his former believed stardom where he averaged 13.2 PPG, a point marker that had eluded him since his third season in the league. Many thought that Beasley and his production would be on the uptick following this season and his career would take a turn.
With a limited role with the Lakers and his eventual trade from the team at the deadline, Beasley’s confidence then appeared tarnished. But as always, Beasley would show flashes as to how much of a bucket he can actually be.
Not helping him was a failed drug test earlier in the season that will result in a five-game suspension for Beasley in the 2019-2020 season.
Sitting as a free-agent for a majority of the 2019 off-season, Michael Beasley reached a tentative agreement with the Detroit Pistons. He was eventually waived due to the signing of the ‘Big 3’ MVP Joe Johnson (who was later released).
Beasley then was considering making a move to the Chinese Basketball League where he won the MVP back in 2016 with the Shanghai Sharks. Now, the team looking at him, the Shanxi Loongs, are still weighing their options in terms on whether or not to bring him in.
Throughout the duration of Beasley’s career, he has exhibited flashes of why he was a coveted high school prospect and eventual lottery selection. Unfortunately, his off-the court antics ultimately effected his play on the court and the potential and skill for Beasley never was on full-display.
Who knows how Beasley’s career would have panned out had he kept progressing and ascending in terms of his development. While his time in the NBA did not go the way he or others might have planned, it goes to show that the road for every NBA player has several detours and routes and while it may have been a rough road, Michael Beasley went through it all and managed to carve out a healthy career.