Bend String on Zither
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.
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.
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.