Michael Beasley, The Candyman - A Short Story of Wasted Talent

By Adam Camara - I recently moved to the Phoenix area, and as a lifelong NBA fan, have occasionally switched on the local Phoenix Suns game while channel surfing. You want to know what consumes me the most when watching their games? No, it's not how bad the Suns are this season. It's Michael Beasley. When I watch him play I think of a quote from one of my favorite movies, A Bronx Tale - "The saddest thing in life is wasted talent".
Michael Beasley Skittles

If you could construct the ideal basketball player in a lab it would be something like: 6'10", 235 pounds, ambidextrous (able to use both hands proficiently), a jump shot like a shooting guard, dribbling ability like a point guard, supreme quickness and athleticism...basically Michael Beasley.
For that reason he was the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, but sadly he has not come close to reaching his potential. A combination of off-the-court-issues and mediocre, uninspired play on the court has him with his third different NBA team already. His NBA career has consisted of a series of letdowns to this point. So with every physical gift that a basketball player could ask for, how can Michael Beasley possibly not be great? I found the answer while reading the sports section of the Arizona Republic newspaper last weekend. Here's an excerpt of an interview with Michael Beasley (one that I thought was an early April Fools joke but you really could not make this stuff up:

Each week, azcentral sports spotlights a member of the Suns. This week’s visit is with Beasley, who is in his first year with Phoenix.
Q: Is Skittles still your favorite candy? How often do you have them?
A: By far. I have them every day. Not as much as I used to. Probably like six or seven packs a day.
Q: Really? Fun-size or regular-sized bags?
A: The regular ones.
Q: Are the athletic trainers and team dietitians good with that?
A: I don’t bring them to the arena any more. I just eat them at home and keep them to myself. My favorite pack is the wild berry—the best, by far. I like to stick with the wild berry. The red pack is original so it’s always going to be good, but that wild berry takes it to another level.
Q: Do you pack some in case a hotel on the road does not have them?
A: I usually have some in my backpack.

Here's a guy who makes 6 million dollars a year to play basketball. He was blessed with all the tools to be a great basketball player except the desire. Now I'm certainly not saying that eating 7 packs of skittles a day is the reason he has fallen short (although other NBA players have benefited from cutting out sugar), but it certainly signifies the larger reason why. It shows a lack of discipline and pride in his profession. His job is to be an athlete and he's eating bags of Skittles. 
Extraordinary god-given talent can only take a man so far. In order to reach greatness it takes a combination of that talent along with the will to be great.
Perhaps I'm being a little harsh on Mr. Beasley, but I can't help it. You see, I subscribe to the same beliefs as Robert DeNiro in A Bronx Tale. It goes well beyond sports. Realizing our gifts and making the most of them is often times not as easy as it seems. In Michael Beasley's case there's still time for redemption. He's only 24 years old. Maybe he'll throw the proverbial Skittles bag away and become the player he was supposed to be..but if he doesn't, he'll be just another sad tale of wasted talent.