Michael Beasley gets high praise from former teammate Dwyane Wade
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MINNEAPOLIS – The always-polarizing Miami Heat brought their traveling circus to the Target Center Friday, making short work of the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-92.
Beasley spent his first two seasons with the Heat after Miami used the second-overall pick to draft him in 2008 before getting traded to Minnesota due in large part to the aftermath of 'The Decision.'
Beasley's time in South Beach was marred by marijuana allegations that started at the NBA Rookie Transition Program and continued when he checked himself into a Houston rehabilitation center for depression. But despite the off the court issues, Heat coach Eric Spoelstra looked back fondly at his time coaching Beasley.
"There are so many misconceptions about Michael," he said. "It was a joy to coach him, it really was. Michael loves the game of basketball. He loves practice, he loves games, he likes being in the gym, he likes talking about the game. Like a lot of young players, need to improve their fundamentals, learn the system and learn discipline. But the thing about Michael is, he is into all that and we miss him."
After getting off to a strong start, Beasley's season was derailed when he suffered a reoccurring ankle injury in January that forced him to miss games, a stretch where Beasley admitted his confidence took a hit and he lost his shooting touch.
Much like his head coach, Heat leader Dwyane Wade had nothing but positive things to say about his former teammate.
"Michael is very talented guy," Wade, who finished with a game-high 32 points, said. "He has shown lots of flashes of greatness here. With more patience, more hard work, Michael can really turn into a star, especially here."
Beasley says he looks back fondly on his team in a Heat uniform and still keeps in touch with his former teammates, including Wade.
Due to his checkered past and goofy personality, the question of maturity is raised seemingly every time Beasley's name is brought up, and he knows this and is working to change the perception people have of him.
"I don't do anything any more," he said. "I come to practice, go home, hang out with my kids, come back to practice or games."
Beasley has kept his name out of the headlines for off the court issues -- with the exception of an incident at a movie theater a few weeks ago -- and it hasn't gone unnoticed by his current and former teammates.
"He has done a good job of coming here and playing basketball and really not getting into a lot of things off the court so hopefully it works out for him," Wade said.
"I can tell, knowing him through the whole time, he has grown up a lot," Kevin Love said. "More than anything, off the court. You can tell day in and day out in the way he acts and interacts with other people. In that regard, I am happy for him. He is only going to get better. He is 22-years old and he isn't going to reach his prime for a few more years. When he really figures it out he could really be very good in this league.
Many consider the move to Minnesota a big part for Beasley's maturation. The days of bright lights and constant media attention in Miami are gone. In Minnesota, where five reporters at practice is considered a big day, he has more time to develop and mature.
"We are looking to broaden his game too," coach Kurt Rambis said. "We are working with him on his offensive moves and reading situations and being able to handle the ball in pick and roll situations, isolation situations, helping him work through his decision making process too. We are working to grow him as a player that has tremendous potential play in this league."