Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beasley+Boat+Beer=Bad Mix

Unfortunately, this is what you get when you no longer receive the benefit of the doubt.Beasley Intro

Heat forward Michael Beasley learned a hard lesson Saturday, if things actually played out the way the team, Beasley and others caught up in Beer Boat Gate say they did. Beasley again found himself in the middle of a controversy that had nothing to do with whether he should start at power forward ahead of Udonis Haslem or slightly out of position at small forward.

There was another camera. There was Beasley. There was a naughty substance that happened to find itself sitting on a table with Beasley in the vicinity. And, of course, there was the Internet, which was used to spread this potential cocktail of disaster across the world faster than Beasley can release a jump shot.

This latest incident could be easily dismissed. Beasley was aboard a chartered fishing trip after an Oct. 10 practice he had no desire to be on, but was encouraged to go by his counselor from that drug rehab stay in Houston. Instead of casting, Beasley found a soft spot for napping. It just so happened to be the wrong spot, a place where there was a table with a bunch of open beer bottles resting nearby as well.

Say cheese. Flash. It was that easy to put Beasley in another uncomfortable spot. did what does. And it ran a story with all kinds of not-so-subtle suggestions about how Beasley was drifting into temptation again. Needless to say that Beasley remains in the league's substance abuse program for missteps dating to weeks after the 2008 draft, when he was caught in a New York hotel room with women amid the smell of marijuana.

The kid has no more wiggle room when it comes to off-the-court stumbles. If he fails, he falls into a potential 5-game suspension. So that made this current situation a bit tough to fathom - even for Beasley.

Beasley is one of the most likable and approachable guys in the Heat locker room. He's got an easy smile, and infectious laugh and a hilarious jab or two to deliver to any teammate or team employee at any given second. No one is off limits. He's still very much a 20-year-old kid having fun at an age when life is supposed to be all about fun.

Except, he's a high-profile professional athlete with a checkered not-so-distant past now. So even if Beasley did absolutely nothing wrong in this latest boat photo flap other than fall asleep on the wrong couch, he's a victim of circumstances his previous actions helped to create.

It's unfortunate. But it's true. The thing about Beasley is that he's not going to let this incident send him into a shell. He loves to go out. He lives right around the corner from AmericanAirlines Arena. And he's never met a stranger. So if you've got a camera phone and Beasley is nearby, he'd welcome the company.

Beasley-playfulCoach "If you're not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't have to worry about (anything)," Beasley said Saturday. "I don't mind taking a picture with someone. A few seconds to me could make their whole day."

That's fine. But aren't you concerned about perception at this point? Don't you fear being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time after everything that's gone on? Can you even take that chance?

"I don't think you should have to be aware (of your surroundings at all times)," said Beasley, who is still underage when it comes to alcohol. "That's like going into a bar and telling them to shut down the bar just because you're near me. I think that's part of growing up and being mature."

Beasley admitted that he never drinks and that he doesn't smoke. At least not anymore. He's been sober, BeasleyDraft he says, "since 8-6-09." That was right around the time of his initial stay in Houston as part of the drug treatment program. He then violated a rule and had to check into an in-patient facility.

But that's behind Beasley now. And that boat has sailed. At least that's the case until the next camera phone flashes. Then, he'll have to go through all of this again. Beasley may well have earned a starting job this season. But it'll be a while before he earns the benefit of the doubt in matters off the court. Innocent or not.

And that's unfortunate. Especially in cases when he's clean.

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