Long-time readers might know that I'm a big fan of Marcel Proust and I also have a soft spot for Michael Beasley. Before B-Easy entered the NBA, he was going to be the next big thing. But then one day he set foot inside Miami's American Airlines Arena and he simply wasn't. Sure, he's given us great stories ("That's my bone!") and become quite the traveler of these United States, but I bet he would trade it all for some positive fame that has nothing to do with his super-cool hair knots or the dreaded word "potential."
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I recently wrote a piece on the NBA's most and least efficient scorers , and Beasley was near the bottom of the list. Worse than Dion Waiters, worse then Gerald Green, and even worse than than JaVale McGee (who's actually pretty good). After I posted the article, Beasley seemed to transform right before our eyes from a guy who needs to spend some time in the D-League to a guy who once again is showing us his, well, potential (in my case, literally, since I saw him play in person at this past weekend's Suns-Mavs game). After I noted that he had posted only .948 points per attempt this season, he went out and scored 25 on 16 attempts against San Antonio, 12 on 10 attempts against Dallas, and 27 on 20 attempts against the Lakers. Now I want more.
A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves - Proust
The night after publishing the piece on efficient scorers, I reached over to my bed stand and spent time with part four of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time series. Basketball is a way for me to mentally escape the everyday demands of work and family, but I also like to escape with good books. For the uninitiated, In Search of Lost Time covers the life of a young boy as he ages into a man, and discusses his many experiences in a way that only fans of long-winded but well constructed and beautiful descriptions of eating madeline cookies can enjoy.
Proust is a master of language, and even though I typically tend towards more direct authors like Hemingway, I can't resist Marcel's pleasures. Alain du Botton was definitely on target when he wrote his book, How Proust Can Change Your Life. The charms of his words are irresistible, even when he takes an untold number of pages to discuss the longing of a little boy lying in bed waiting for his mom to come and tuck him in.
My translation of part four is called Sodom and Gomorrah. And at dinner party after dinner party we learn more and more about an older version of the little boy who once yearned for his mother's kiss but now wants nothing less than to rid himself of his deeply attached girlfriend. But he just can't bring himself to tell her his true feelings. I don't know what happens at the end because I'm about 100 pages away, but I know that once I finish volume four, I'll jump into volumes five and six without hesitation.
Love is a reciprocal torture - Proust
But here's the problem: I'm not really enjoying volume four. I'm tired of dinner parties and I wish the narrator would muster the guts to dump his lady-friend and move back to Paris. I wish Baron de Charlus was able to be more open about his preferences, and I don't like to see Albertine stuck in a relationship with a guy who doesn't seem to care. While my general belief about literature is that once a book goes bad it's time to move on to the next, I know that I won't move on from this one. I experienced the potential in the first few pages of volume one, and it's spectacular.
Which brings me back to Michael Beasley.
Michael Beasley is full of occasionally realized raw potential, but it seems as if we're always waiting for the next volume. Maybe he'll break out in Miami, or Minneapolis, or Phoenix, or maybe he'll realize his potential in his next NBA stop. When and if it happens, it might just be amazing.
But how long do we wait? And when we get to the very end, will we feel fulfilled or simply like we wasted too many evenings with B-Easy and not enough with the Beast? Remember when Beasley debuted in Summer League and scored 28 points in 23 minutes? Remember when he scored 16 and 21 in his first preseason games? And remember when he scored 27 against the Lakers YESTERDAY (but only after he was named on this blog one of this season's least efficient scorers)?
He can do it. But will he?
Like many others, I'm waiting for Michael Beasley to become a star. While Marcel Proust spent a considerable amount of time confined to his bedroom due to various ailments, NBA players don't have the luxury of living and growing in relative obscurity. Every move that Michael Beasley makes will be measured and judged as he progresses along his still unpredictable career arc.
And I'll be waiting persistently.
Charles Henry Bennett
We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us and spare us. - Proust