Big Three's origin traces back to Beasley's failure
MIAMI - A large swath of America hates LeBron James. Maybe they should direct some of their venom at Michael Beasley.
The troubled talent, who's in town with the Timberwolves to face the Heat Tuesday night, has a lot of black marks next to his name. A high-school-hopping phenom with a penchant for problems. A one-and-done double-double machine whose goofiness at Kansas State would often devolve into outlandish and prima donna behavior.
A strong smell of marijuana at the 2008 NBA Rookie Transition Program and lingering questions about Beasley's role, followed by a large fine and an early embarrassment for the Heat.
His stint in rehab.
Let's add to it: the first domino that allowed the Big Three to turn their collective gaze on Miami.
Had Beasley lived up to his potential as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, there might be a big two in Miami right now.
Then LeBron would still be the toast of Cleveland. Or the hero of New Jersey or Chicago or Los Angeles.
Here's the deal: I wrote about Beasley when I was a sports writer in Kansas City. I've stood two feet from him as he joked and acted inappropriately on his way up an elevator to visit sick children.
I've seen adults, just before Beasley arrived at Kansas State, coddle his childish outbursts with dizzying displays of stupidity so they could bask in the glory of a 17-year-old kid without a clue.
I've seen the raw talent that should produce a double-double most nights in the NBA waste away because no one ever effectively set up the boundaries he, like all of us, needed.
This is especially true with young, talented athletes who are celebrities before they're men. Young people who, before they learn much about the world, are taught by enablers and sycophants that the rules don't apply to them.
That's a dangerous enough combination for grown men in the business, media or political arenas. It's especially problematic for teenage athletes.
LeBron's not the only basketball player whose talent meant he grew up in a different world than most of us.
Beasley has serious talent, enough that if he had been able to harness it LeBron might have said he was taking his talents to the Windy City (which, for some reason, sounds a lot less offensive).
Pat Riley saw Beasley's talent when he visited Manhattan, Kan., and personally scouted the college freshman in 2008. Word is Riley also saw the problems and personality issues that might not -- did not -- fit into the professionally oriented culture here in Miami.
Many Heat players still love the guy, and why not? On his best days, Beasley can be fun, funny, endearing and a mercenary on the court.
Making mistakes and not living up to potential doesn't make you a bad guy. But it can make you a bad choice for a franchise.
Beasley's career numbers are pedestrian in relation to his skill: 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
He never caught up defensively. He struggled under the weight of a league and organization full of talent that expected its lottery pick to act, well, like a lottery pick. He often looked ill at ease on the floor.
Talent is fine. A killer instinct - and a clue - to go with that talent is finer still.
Beasley never matured, personally or professionally, into the player his talent warranted.
That meant he was expendable and that the Heat were a franchise still looking for an identity.
Booting Beas could be done with ease.
So LeBron looked south. And so did Chris Bosh. Which leaves us where we are today, a Big Three hosting Beasley and his Minnesota Timberwolves.
Want to blame someone for The Decision? Fine. Just save a fraction of those hard feelings for Beasley. His shortcomings have played a part in the rise of a powerhouse.