“Well he was so much better than I was … after a while I wanted to get to his level, I wanted to be better than him.”
“We always competed in everything … so you know I wanted to be as good as him. And I know that sounds a little weird because he was younger than me, but I just tried to push myself to be better.”
When you read those quotes with the names in the headline, you would think that Michael Beasley was talking about Kevin Durant. However, those were the words of the Oklahoma City Thunder star, while describing how he looked up to his childhood friend during last week’s appearance on ESPN’s Highly Questionable.
I know that that’s shocking to most, but the first time I heard those words was years ago, when a YouTube video of the two leaked from an ESPN magazine shoot.
It was the summer after Durant’s rookie season and few months before Beasley’s first. Two No. 2 picks just having fun and talking basketball. People thought that the man pundits picked to surpass LeBron James was being humble, but he truly believes that he became a better player from being around Beasley.
Maybe it was because Beasley was actually a better baller who had the easygoing free spirit that Durant always longed for — the antitheses of the low self-esteem that KD described having to the Highly Questionable crew.
Their basketball lives played out like a movie as the two became fast friends at the age of 11 when Beasley stole the team’s pizza after their first meeting, prompting them to be “together everyday until the 10th grade.”
And much like the movies, the shy, quiet one surpassed the guy that they all thought was better. Durant is on his quest not to be the NBA’s second best, while Beasley is struggling to get his career back. KD is still a little fresh off of losing an NBA Finals while Bease was on his third team in five years.
For what it’s worth, Durant still seemed like there was a piece of his buddy’s game that he might have been missing, and that’s the edge that he tried to add last season — the type of edge that made his D.M.V. counterpart cup a spectators face and push it during a 2011 game at New York City’s Dyckman Park.
It’s safe to say that Durant didn’t want that much bite, but he adopted enough bark to net 12 technical fouls and one ejection. If the Miami Heat are lucky, Beasley can learn from his best friend and keep all his troubles on the court. Then, maybe, he will get back to being that talent that KD wanted to be.
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