''I'd like to thank the organization for believing in me,'' Michael Beasley said in July, ''giving me another chance, a better opportunity to grow as a person and a player.
"It makes me feel good that someone actually believes in me and someone is willing to give me a chance."
UPDATE: My bad. Michael Beasley showed up on September 14 to his first informal workout, shown here on suns.com. He looked buff compared to his teammates, which means either he bulked up or they are really skinny. You decide. Still, he was at least two weeks later than his teammates.
That was July. This is September (the 15th to be exact), just two weeks before arguably the most important season of Michael Beasley's career officially begins.
Guys are allowed to be anywhere they want to be. Media Day is not until October 1, immediately followed by a 5-day training camp in San Diego, and then the daily games/practice schedule starts up for the next seven months nonstop (eight if you're good enough).
Yet, when nearly every other able-bodied soul under contract is already hanging out together and playing pickup games, and visiting places like Phoenix Children's Hospital to donate money and personal time, shouldn't an otherwise unencumbered 23-year old fighting for his NBA stardom, nay his NBA future, be with them?
And when a front office has clearly hung their future on the rebirth of a former #2 overall pick, paying him more money and more attention than any other NBA team would do, doesn't it behoove the player to show initial excitement and loyalty by starting the rebirth process as early as possible?
Paging Michael Beasley.
I understand taking care of your own business for as long as possible (working out with mentor Norm Nixon, playing pickup games in California) before spending every waking day for seven consecutive months with the same 20-25 players, coaches and trainers and another half-dozen beat reporters asking you the same questions over and over.
I understand clinging to your new touchstone and mentor, Norm Nixon, for as long as possible.
But Michael Beasley is fighting for his NBA career. Sure, he's got three guaranteed seasons on this contract, but that shouldn't be good enough. Anything less than NBA stardom should be a failure in Beasley's eyes. He was the #2 pick in the 2008 draft for a very good reason.
For some reason, the mercurial - and a little goofy - Michael Beasley just barely arrived in Phoenix. He is not yet running the court with his new teammates, who by the way are of like age and mind. They, too, want to establish their NBA futures. Why not align yourself with them and rise together?
Goran Dragic wants to be a great NBA point guard. He would do well to learn as quickly as possible where their second or third most-talented player should get the ball to produce the most efficient offense.
Wes Johnson and PJ Tucker want to prove for the first time they belong in the NBA. And oh by the way, they want Beasley's minutes. Building a strong relationship with the team will at least afford them the opportunity to prove it.
Jared Dudley is establishing his leadership of this relatively young team. Beasley would do well to ingratiate himself with Duds.
The venerable Luis Scola is already here, despite having taken little time off for his relatively aging body to recuperate from the Olympics.
Every other Phoenix Sun is here, except Marcin Gortat who just played his last tournament game for Poland barely a week ago. He needs time to rest and recover before the grueling season. And except Jermaine O'Neal, he of 17 seasons in the NBA and a fairly certain role on the team as second or third center.
The time is now.
Whoever earns the role of leadership - Scola, Dragic, Dudley, Gortat - will want players around them who really care about the team. What does it say when Beasley doesn't show up as early as possible to start training with his new team?
Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot.
- For the second consecutive year, these informal workouts are closed to the media. Paul Coro of azcentral.com heard glowing reports on Marshall, Morris and Dragic. Of course they were glowing. They're second-hand from a Suns player or staffer. Is it cynical to wonder why Wes Johnson's name wasn't mentioned as well? Why not, right?
- Jared Dudley donated $5,000 to Phoenix Children's hospital on Thursday, and passed out donation "bears" to kids with PJ Tucker, Kendall Marshall and Markieff Morris. I myself became a "monthly miracle maker" for the second time - a minimal $20/month for a year. It's nothing to me, and so much more to those kids.
- It's a great sign of natural leadership that Luis Scola has shown up already. He's a gamer, and his teammates loved him - both on Argentina and in Houston.