8.24.2009

Bend String on Zither

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It is with great weariness that I begin this post on Michael Beasley and his rehab situation. I feel like I already pushed forth the envelope of flippancy in my Baseline post on the matter (damn, that works well in a self-referential sense). Maybe too far if it turns out that Beasley gobbling down pills or fall-down drunk all the time.

But when we posted that tattoo twit on Friday, the bags didn't even cross our mind. Maybe we're content to call a bag a bag; maybe we just were't super-scanning the background for too-thrilling data on what a 20 year-old millionaire does in an empty hotel; maybe we know that Beasley probably smokes and plays video games in all his spare time, but just didn't care. Whatever our over-liberal reasoning, the next morning it turned out we'd missed out on a MONSTER SCOOP: Michael Beasley photographed himself with pot-a-phenalia. What a moron.

What became difficult to discern in the flurry of typing that followed was whether Beasley was 1) in the wrong for smoking 2) was dumb for getting caught 3) needed to avoid all perception of smoking, since he had in the past 4) needed to cover his ass better. I was briefly working on a column that tried to link Beasley to Bolt, explaining how skepticism and suspicion was ruining sports, or at least our consumption of it. Or at least making blogs into speculative, uninformed, worthless tabloids that did little more than all squint at the same blurry image, or process the same publicly available circumstance, before giving voice to the "fan in the streets" or "what the mainstream's afraid to say." An unfortunate blurring of function, if you ask me.

giant-flightless-bird

Back to the Beasley at hand. Before the window into his soul—I mean, the Twitter account—hit the deck, Beasley threw out a couple of twits that were equal parts morbid, goofy (if you're threatening to take your own life, please limit the number of exclamation points), off-hand, paranoid, impulsive, and, sorry, but culturally specific. Among the many great contributions Tupac made to the world was the trope of imminent doom, brought about by fame, fortune, public scrutiny, and doing shit to piss people off. I admit that Beasley's twits were erratic, but they also fit readily under this rubric. So there might a matter of cross-cultural mis-communication here.

But hey, today, Beasley's checked into rehab, John Lucas is running the show, and we'll see those "possible substance and psychological issues" scrubbed right out of him! Excuse me if I'm not inclined to take this 100% seriously, especially as Yahoo! also reports that it was Riley who made Beasley 'fess up to his involvement in Rookie Transition-gate well after the fact. Beasley is weird dude, one whose personality makes him a fascinating and frustrating public entity. I can only imagine how it is for a team that's invest millions in him. The same goes for this lingering weed association. Why not attach "troubled" to his name once and for all, throw into rehab, make a show of it, and trot him out for 2009-10 with a firm sense of how he's supposed to conduct himself as a pro?

Except that's not what rehab's about. And "troubled" shouldn't simply mean "wacky" or even "pot smokin'." This might be a stigma that haunts Beasley for life, all in the name of public presentation couched in the language of "possible substance and psychological issues." That's the matter-of-fact take on it. There's also the rather ghastly thought that Beasley's being poked and prodded in hopes of uncovering some explanation for his behavior, reprogramming him rather than looking to subject him to the ultimate disciplinary sham/PR cover-up. Michael Beasley is young and foolish, but there's no reason to presume he's got loose screws just because he's poorly-behaved and off-kilter. You can tack various degrees of sinister, or ruthlessly capitalistic, to that.

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All this goes on the assumption that 1) Beasley is not indeed insane, since anyone who observed him in college can see he's toned himself down even under the greater stress posed by the pros 2) it's only pot, since a coked-out Beasley would be even more of a nightmare, and a Vin Baker-drunk Beasley would probably have gone to sleep in a giant ditch of his own digging by now (I mean that literally, not figuratively). If, however, this is intended to get Beasley help in earnest, the strategy seems awfully sloppy. Sorry, no pothead demands immediate detox. If the loopiness points to anything deeper, wouldn't it make more sense to first just have him talk to a doctor? Oh, I forgot: Whenever a famous person is unwell, or might be, your spirit them away to rehab so the world can't watch, and they can be spared the humiliation of being picked apart any further in public.

Unless I am totally wrong, and Beasley's been shooting speedballs before every game, this a ton of wasted resources, breath, and bed space for a kid whose long-term mental health—whatever its current state—would probably benefit from a vacation and some trips to a psychologist. But rehab sends a message to the world, and to Beasley. Like jail. Never mind that, if someone sick wants to get well, he needs to do so of his own accord. Threatening and intimidating Beasley onto the straight and narrow by making him hear about men who lose everything and spend their mornings looking a vein. . . it's an insult to Beasley, those addicts, and anyone who ends up working on his "case."

Normal people have to undergo some kind of in-house screening before entering a rehab facility. That Beasley got green-lighted immediately, when his situation would seem to demand at least some preliminary treatment before getting recommended for these places. Maybe I'm out of touch with the treatment of addiction, or the best way to deal with a recreational drug user whose behavioral issues only matter because he's a gigantic business asset. It's just hard for me to read this stuff and not laugh at the whole thing, while feeling a little bad for Beasley—who might have missed out on a chance for an appropriate, not nuclear-level, intervention.

CB007273

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23 Comments:

At 8/24/2009 3:19 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

completely sign on to all of the above. this shit is absurd.

maybe i'm being paranoid, but part of me feels like this is the heat's (read riley's) way to get the upper-hand in all future discussions about beasley's "character." any spat down the road, no matter how minor, whether about playing time, shots, coachability, whatever, and they can now point back to this as proof positive that beasley "has issues!" and they'll be justified for either treating him like a kid, shafting him, or giving up on him entirely.

unless there's some much more serious thing out there that we don't know about yet, it's really hard to believe that the ones guiding/shoving him are looking out for his best interest at this point.

 
At 8/24/2009 4:01 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

It never occurred to me before, but is Beasley the new Odom? They both went to random colleges for a year, which for many signified more a troubling (threatening?) non-seriousness about basketball tradition than a non-seriousness about education. Both were Top 5 draft picks and had impressive rookie years that were also somehow underwhelming and which raised concerns about effort level. They're both also tweener forwards, but that doesn't seem as relevant here.

Now comes the pot usage admission followed by disproportionate repentance (Odom breaking down crying at a press conference, Beasley going to rehab for weed) and outward signs of possible depression. For everyone's sake, I hope Beasley keeps his head up, and maybe he'll win a championship in a few years, too.

 
At 8/24/2009 4:15 PM, Blogger Q McCall said...

This issue is not worth even an eighth of the attention it's getting...

I'd like to chalk it up to summer boredom, but I think you're right -- it's partially hyper-skepticism/suspicion. But it's also part of an inability of writers to create well written stories out of something positive because it's so much easier to break the news by writing some crap about some sort of conflict. It's the epitome of lazy anti-intellectual journalism.

 
At 8/24/2009 4:36 PM, Blogger Chad said...

A picture of any NBA player with weed deserves essentially no attention. This is especially if the player in question has been getting high since at least the year he spent marooned in Fitchburg, MA, a fate that would lead weaker men to shoot horse tranquilizers into their own eyeballs.

But at this point the story isn't weed; it's that a young kid who went from Fitchburg to Bumblefunk, KS to Miami in two years has been admitted to a medical facility with a problem of some sort. That's serious stuff. I mean, I bow to no one in my distrust of Riles, but I have to say I'm really uncomfortable about proclaiming that this is just the Heat doing damage control.

All that is a long way of saying that while I agree with the post's attempt to defuse the drug angle, I think for the time being we should all maybe stop right there and wait until we know whether the kid is in fact all right. FD doesn't have deadline.

 
At 8/24/2009 5:15 PM, Blogger Silas said...

Like a lot of people, my introduction to this story was a blog post called something like “Michael Beasley Picture Controversy.” I wanted to decide for myself how big of a deal this was, so I pored over the picture before reading the article. After staring at it for about five minutes I hadn’t even noticed the bag. I began the article convinced that the “controversy” must be somehow related to Beasley’s tattoo, and it just appalls me that in all the talk about this not one person has taken time to mention just how ridiculous that thing is.

The wings and olde-English “god’s son” are fairly de rigeur NBA narcissism, but the centerpiece of the whole thing – the giant “Supercool Beas” – sounds like a character in a children’s anime. This shit must have taken hours to complete – could he seriously not think of anything more hard core than that? And what’s up with the dangling glasses?

I will be very sad if, after being stared at by millions of people, this amazing piece of NBA ink gets left out in the cold just because of some stupid marijuana.

 
At 8/24/2009 5:16 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Apparently the depression part is confirmed, but everyone who knows him is confused. And I'll reiterate: Does depression require in-patient rehab?

 
At 8/24/2009 5:25 PM, Blogger El Presidente said...

X

 
At 8/24/2009 5:50 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Why does Michael Beasley's dad have a Twitter account?

 
At 8/24/2009 6:38 PM, Blogger Phil said...

I could not agree more. This whole mess is something of a tragicomedy.

Unrelated: Thanks for posting on FD more frequently. I like the Baseline, but I prefer FD.

 
At 8/24/2009 7:12 PM, Blogger Carl said...

If you want to say to he and teach about the risk of all vice, you should have a cultural communication, you can to put some examples or If you don't know what to do it, simply you to call a Rehabilitation Centre

 
At 8/24/2009 9:00 PM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

As I understand it (medical student, disclaimer), depression doesn't require in-patient treatment unless it's believed that the patient is at significant risk to harm him/herself. Doctors assess patients for suicidal ideations, and if there's evidence of that, then I think steps can be taken for their own protection (if the patient acquiesces, at least).

 
At 8/25/2009 2:18 AM, Blogger Caleb Tyler Adam said...

@ Shoals & Sweat, re: whether depression results in inpatient rehab -

Yes. Yes. It can. Trust me. That's all I have to say about that.

 
At 8/25/2009 3:08 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Hospitalization/institutionalization aren't the same as entering a rehab facility.

In rehab, the focus is on treating addiction disorders. Many addicts have dual diagnoses, which is part of the challenge of working with them, but if the depression itself is seen as the major problem, I don't see how a rehab center makes the most sense.

But what do I know.

 
At 8/25/2009 9:53 AM, Blogger Rebar said...

but with most recovery centers when you get a drug evaluation A. it has a psychological component and B. they'll most likely recommend in patient treatment if they feel that your environment is a detriment to your health (aka you know how to buy drugs, so like, every time) and C. They make more money on in patient.

 
At 8/25/2009 10:39 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Fine, I stand corrected, it appears there are rehab centers for depressives. Never been suggested for anyone I know, though.

Sunset Malibu Depression/Rehab Center

 
At 8/25/2009 12:24 PM, Blogger Deckfight said...

i really like that you used the word "reprogrammed" in this, b/c i think that's exactly what's going on. i think the same is going on w/ michael vick...

I don't think this would have been as big of deal (to the media, not to Beasley as a person) if for some reason ecstacy or cocaine was in the picture...then it's just ballers being ballers. But if it's weed, then holy cow! that's a drug that all babyboomers can relate to, so let's write him up for it! he must then be "re-programmed" to societal expectations for what basketball players can and can't do.

 
At 8/25/2009 3:02 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

@Deckfight: did you just say weed was worse than ecstacy or cocaine? And then did you say it was worse because baby boomers relate to it? Don't most baby boomers look back fondly upon weed and view it as relatively harmless?

 
At 8/25/2009 3:19 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

I wonder how much of this fiasco has to do with the fact that Beasely has already been branded as 'the clownish one who has the challenge of living in body-shot heaven' on draft night. We love to watch people fail, and while succumbing to recreational drug use and depression isn't typically a failure, it is a failure for Beasely because it was supposed to be his greatest challenge all along.

Draw your narratives deep, because once he gets into the Finals it will make a fantastic half-time segment.

 
At 8/26/2009 11:09 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Funny, I spent about one day feeling bad about this post after the whole "depression" thing leaked. Now that it's apparently league-imposed, I'm back to agreeing 100% with this one.

 
At 8/26/2009 4:07 PM, Blogger holopawer said...

Stephen Jackson for Mayor shirt sighting at the downtown post office in Gainesville, FL. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

 
At 8/26/2009 7:40 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

I wrote and didn't post a comment expressing potential vexedness at the possibility that the treatment was league-imposed. It sounded too much like stupid conspiracy theory. Truth, fiction, strangeness ... vexed.

On this issue, Stern et al. have over-learned from past successes. They really need to revisit the League's policies and re-strike the balance among preserving their marketing image, helping players in need, and staying out of the private business of their employees.


wv: hydropor--League-approved strain of Cannabis ... in the 22nd century

 
At 8/27/2009 3:04 PM, Blogger Ritchie said...

With Beas' eyes it's gotta be black tar in the bag right? Or are we kidding ourselves?

 
At 8/28/2009 3:04 PM, Blogger Diesel824 said...

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