- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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[Ed's Note: We'll admit to being in something of the Beasley Business this week. Tomorrow, stop by for a cover story and video on the future #1 or #2 overall draft pick, and as if that weren't enough, the guy is blogging for this site. Still, we had to be there today, as Beasley tries to prove that he's the first Michael Beasley, not the next Derrick Coleman. He has a lot to prove.]
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Once Michael Beasley was finished playing for the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday morning, he was just getting started. Wearing a black Bulls team sweatsuit, he stepped outside and started playing for the media.
With cameras, microphones, notepads and a couple dozen of Chicago's media members waiting for him, Beasley emerged from the Berto Center's doors, outside of the practice facility built for the likes of MJ and Pippen, and placed himself in the middle of the pack, beginning what would basically be a 15-minute stand-up routine. All he needed was a punchline. For a likely #1 or #2 pick overall in the upcoming draft, "I don't get no respect," might not work.
-Asked about measuring 6-foot-8 at the pre-draft camp rather than his previously listed 6-10: "I'm a little disappointed to find out I'm actually a midget."
-Asked if he can you succeed at the NBA level like he did in high school and college: "Depends if I like the coach."
-Asked what he knew about other Bulls players: "They got one Jayhawk that I'll have to work really hard to get along with."
-Asked if he saw Bulls GM John Paxson play: "I'm not that old."
We already know what Beasley brings to the court from a physical standpoint, questions on his height aside. He's big, well-built, has deep range but loves to rebound; he's basically a double-double waiting to show up in your daily box score. In effect, the actual workout portion of Tuesday's audition— he dribbled, shot, rebounded, curled— was simply a formality for the Bulls.
What everyone really wants to know is whether the possible No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft has the potential to dress up in leather and be a fixture at Chicago's Excalibur nightclub just as another Bulls power forward once did. (He even has a subtle Rodman look, doesn't he?) They want to know if "personality" really means "mischievous." They wonder if "curious" means "bound for trouble."
Beasley isn't blind to that. He realizes everyone's trying to figure out if he's a head-case.
"They asked me if I was crazy," said Beasley when asked about the sort of questions he gets from NBA teams.
"I left that one unanswered."
Laughs erupt around him. That is how this interview session mostly went, but it's also what Beasley claims he wants fans to know about him.
"(Know) That I'm funny, I guess," he said. "I'm a real laid back person. That's pretty much it."
That's one interpretation. One scout recently said of Beasley, "If you look into his eyes, you'll see Looney Toons playing inside his head."
With the crowd of reporters, it was often hard to look him straight in the eyes, but with all this in your mind, you wondered just how easily his mind wanders. On Tuesday, he often paused midway through answers and provided peculiar observations.
On the draft approaching: "I'm a little nervous, a little anxious, but excited at the same time. … Man, they got people behind the fence, too." Beasley had lost focus. Fans were looking at him through a fence, some wearing Kansas State gear. This wasn't a new phenomenon.
On the interview process with the Bulls: "I felt great about it. I think … Is that a bug on my neck? … I think everybody's liking me, at least I hope. I like everybody. The team's pretty cool. I'm just having fun."
The Bulls probably aren't right now. They still have to choose between the enigmatic but sublimely talented Beasley and the more quiet but gifted Derrick Rose, the former Chicago high school phenom who arrives to visit with them on Thursday. Beasley has his quirks, and the team must also wonder if bringing Rose home leaves him in the ideal situation to grow into a star.
Beasley has an opinion. Asked whether the Bulls should pick him, he answers, "I think they should."
21hMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne