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Thoughts on Michael Beasley's Image

Michael Beasley has fired his agent, pinning his lack of a shoe deal on representation rather than the fact that he's neither a high-scoring guard nor a big man of the Shaq/Oden genre, the fact that he played college basketball at a relatively obscure school that made no noise in the NCAA Tournament, the widely-held belief that the team that drafted him was really, really reluctant to draft him, and the fact that he landed with a team with a young superstar already firmly entrenched as its best player and resident product pitchman. I'm not sure which of those circumstances can be blamed on his agent - or actually I am sure, and it's none of them.

It's disconcerting that a young man who has yet to play a regular-season NBA game already needs to push the reset button in this fashion, but I'm encouraged that he's aware of his surly/goofy public image and is at least attempting to take steps to repair it. Not to be harsh, but Beasley's kind of a joke right now. He gives dorky interviews, clowns around, and is rarely pictured without the infuriatingly smug grin of the newly-minted millionaire. He'd probably drive me crazy too if he weren't so integral to the future of my NBA team, and even though he is, I don't really feel like buying a pair of shoes from him.

It's equally significant that the shuffle of handlers includes an official falling-out with adviser Curtis Malone, his AAU coach. I don't know specifically what Malone's role in Beasley's life is/was, but I do know he didn't keep Beasley from earning a reputation as immature or being captured in ridiculously irresponsible pictures like the one in the top FanShot in that right-hand column over there. So while I'll admit I don't know exactly what Malone did, I can see what he didn't do, and it's the stuff I wish he would have done.

Still, Beasley's first impression has been a miserable one. He's light-hearted and funny, but he's got a smarmy streak to him that the best NBA endorsers successfully avoid. I don't know how else to put this, but he seems like kind of a prick. It will take some outstanding play on the court and some competent damage control off it to overcome that perception. The best thing Beasley can do is put his head down and work, and hope his game develops and his public shenanigans subside to the point that shoe companies are bidding on him. Maybe focus on building a productive NBA career for now, and worry about the sneaker-hawking later. Just an idea.