I remember interviewing Michael Beasley for the first time at the 2009 All-Star Game in Phoenix. He was in town for the Rookie-Sophomore game. I vividly recall him sprawled out in a court side chair with a nonchalant look on his face acting nothing like his attentive (and polite) peers, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo or Al Horford. Michael was a living manifestation of his "Big Easy" nickname.
For fun, listen here to the interview where I ask him for his thoughts about rumors that he might be coming to the Suns (in a trade for some guy named Amare Stoudemire).
He was down with it then, but in kind of a -- whatever will be, will be -- way. Now, a couple of years and one unproductive stop in Minnesota later, he seems a bit more excited about being in Phoenix.
He's older and at least on the surface, a more mature person who certainly has said ALL the right things about the mistakes in his past and his desire for the future.
We've heard it before, but here's a great quote from Beasley from this Yahoo! Sports profile:
"Five years in, I'm nowhere near where I thought or wanted myself to be. I don't have anyone to blame that on but myself. All I can do is look forward. On the court, off the court, I'm in a better space, better state of mind – the right track so to speak."
Assuming Michael follows through on the promise of his potential, it's going to take a few years of solid consistent play and impecable off-court behavior for him to shed the reputation he earned in his first few years in the league.
I have no problem believing that Michael can learn from his mistakes, redeem himself, and fulfill his dream. In fact, I'll be rooting for him. But of course, he must understand that the burden of proof is on him.