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Believing in Beasley?

Heat forward Michael Beasley has already had one promising yet controversial season in the NBA. But in BeasleyDraft many ways, the rest of his career - and life - start today.

Actually, it began again on that day he arrived in Houston to start a rehabilitation program designed to address the demons that have haunted him since the moment he became a basketball prodigy.

What we know is that concerns over drug use and psychological issues led the Heat to push Beasley, the talented 20-year-old forward, into a treatment program of some kind in Houston. Details remain sketchy about how long Beasley (right) has been in treatment and when he'll emerge from the program.

But this latest development has completely altered the course and perception of what already had been a rocky and, at times, outright difficult offseason for the Heat. Until Monday, the Heat's summer has been defined by its inability to bring in quality help to upgrade the roster this offseason.

Suddenly, it's now all about the player Miami has sent away to get his life, health and priorities in order. It's hard to know what's been racing through Beasley's mind during an offseason filled with emotional speed bumps. It's hard to know what may have driven him to the brink of substance abuse. But life came at Beasley fast this offseason.

It started with the birth of his first child, daughter Mikaiya, back in May. At one moment, Beasley talked about how the birth had changed his outlook on things. I spoke to him in June about this very issue and he went as far as to say that he planned to save 75 percent of his salary to put away for his family.

New Beasley In the very next breath, Beasley was as defiant as ever when it came to the maturity issue. He wondered out loud why everyone expected this 20-year-old young man to act like he was 30 or, well, a mature 20.

In July, there was the second snub from USA Basketball execs, who passed over Beasley as they picked out young prospects who will be in line for future Olympic squads. Almost everyone who was anyone in the draft lottery the last three or four years was invited to that Las Vegas training camp tryout. 

Except Michael Paul Beasley, Jr., the No. 2 overall pick in 2008. 

That omission sent Beasley on the rant that led to the disappearance of his first Twitter account. He posted something about being in "kill mode" entering next season as a result of the USA tryout snub.

Then came the trade rumors involving Carlos Boozer, who was to be shipped from Utah to Miami if the Heat were inclined to include Beasley in the deal. Heat president Pat Riley came out and essentially said it wasn't happening. But later in July, there was the Lamar Odom situation.

At one point during the Heat's free agency pursuit of Odom, Beasley was ready and willing to accept a move to Los Angeles if a sign-and-trade could have been worked out after Odom's negotiations with the Lakers broke down. But it never got to that because the Lakers were willing to call Odom's bluff and in no way planned to aid in the Heat's acquisition of the versatile forward.

And then came last week's most recent Twitter episode, when Beasley posted a photo of himself and his new tattoo. In the process, there were two plastic bags in the background that caught the attention and speculation of Internet nation. The notion was that there may or may not have been marijuana in the bags. 

Then came Monday's revelation that Beasley had been out of town for some time and had recently sought treatment for a number of his issues. ESPN's Jay Bilas made an interesting observation when I spoke with him Monday about this Beasley ordeal. He was hoping that we all weren't on the verge of another Chris Washburn situation. Remember him? If so, the similarities probably frighten you a bit.

Like Beasley, Washburn was an incredibly talented big man with perimeter skills and a silky smooth game 25 years ago coming out of high school. Like Beasley, Washburn faced questions about his academic credibility and concerns over his maturity level after repeated off-the-court issues entering college.

Like Beasley, Washburn was a one-season wonder during a breakout year at North Carolina State. Like Beasley, Washburn showed plenty of promise during his rookie NBA season after he was a top-three pick in the 1986 draft. Then the drug issues and concerns kept popping up. Just like Beasley.

As his second NBA season was just taking off, Washburn (right) was forced to check into a drug treatment Washburn facility. A bad situation quickly grew worse. After failing three drug tests in three years, Washburn was banned for life from the NBA in 1989. After only 72 career games, Washburn was an NBA washout.

"Unfortunately, you've seen this type of thing before," Bilas said. "You hope it doesn't get to that point (with Beasley) and he gets the help he needs. But you know these sort of issues and concerns have been brought up before, with a talented player that early in his career."

I'm sure former NBA player, coach and league 12-step program czar John Lucas will probably mention the Washburn story to Beasley - if he hasn't already - during one of their counseling sessions in Houston. Of course, Lucas could tell his own story of overcoming substance abuse to gain his status as one of the NBA's truly great comeback stories.

The good news is that Beasley still has plenty of basketball left ahead of him if he comes back from Houston with his life together. Far more importantly, he's still got plenty of his life ahead of him too if he comes back with a proper gameplan. 

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)


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