I don’t root. I’m paid to do a job, which means I’m a professional and as a result, I can’t root or have favorites. I’m supposed to be objective, but if I’m being honest, I do have a favorite basketball player. And his name is Michael Beasley. He’s not just my favorite player, he’s your favorite player’s favorite player, just ask him.

You remember Beaz, right? The second pick in the 2008 Draft right behind Derrick Rose. And Beasley is right behind Rose again, becoming a Knick shortly after Rose went to Cleveland. And honestly, I’m wishing he got to New York years ago because he is exactly what the Knicks have been needing. Just ask him about that too.

He met with the media yesterday and frankly, it was even better than I could’ve expected. He hit on everything, starting with his expectations for the team this season:  “If Tim Hardaway Jr., Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and myself [are on the same roster] — those are four guys that can score 25 points per game. Then you add in Lance Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn, Joakim Noah, let’s not forget about that All-Star.”

25 points per game? Dude, you had a game with 25 points last year. One. Normally, I’d say let’s pump the brakes on the 25 per night hype, but not this time. Because I’m feeling it with Beasley. He’s got me believing and if you’re a Knicks fan, he should have you believing, too, because this is a new season and he doesn’t really give a damn that Vegas is putting the Knicks win total around 31.

“Whatever happened last year is what happened. But I’m here now, and I’m going to do everything I can to get everyone on the same page — even if that page is beating me up every day in practice. Whatever I have to do to get us to come together on the floor is what I’m going to do. Do I see us better than a 30-win team in Vegas? Listen, I don’t even go to Vegas. So, yeah, I do. I think we’ve got a position to be not only a playoff team but a 5-, 6-seed team if we do it right.”

Again, normally, I’d say that declaring the Knicks to be a 5 or a 6 seed in a season where they might still dump Melo is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard since D Rose declared them to be a super-team, but not this time. If Beasley believes it, I believe it.

And the next part is something I want to believe more than I’ve ever believed anything. Because unlike some guys who’ve preceded him in New York, Beasley isn’t saving himself for life after basketball. That’s because he doesn’t see a life after basketball, at least not for a long, long time.

“I’m still young, bro. I’m 28. I plan to play at least until I’m 43. So you do the math.”

15 more years?!? You plan to play until your 43? Normally, I’d be saying, WHAT?!?!? WHERE!??? And I’d be saying that 43 is a really strange age to just throw out there. Hell, I’ll play until I’m 44 1/2!

But that’s not me, not today. Because I’m looking at the glass half full here and I’m picking out the part where Beasley says he plans to play “at least until I’m 43.” So there’s a chance that he could steam right past that and go to 47, 48, or even 50.

This cat could be Tom Brady in shorts. And no, I’m not going to point out that he’s been on six teams in ten years and that if he played until he was 43 he wouldn’t just run out of teams, he’d run out of leagues, but that’s not the point right now. Not when we’re celebrating Beasley. Because he’s not looking to play mediocre ball until he’s in his mid-40s. He’s got bigger plans. Much, much bigger plans.

“I still think I have a chance to be one of the best in the NBA. I’m your favorite player’s favorite player. And it’s not enough for me for him to know that. I want the world to know that. So I’m still working hard as if I can be the best ever. If you doubt it, if you don’t believe it, it will just make my story that much better.”

HELL. FREAKING. YES. I don’t just like that quote, I love that quote. No, I don’t love that quote, I need that quote. I want to print off that quote, grind it up, and sprinkle it on my breakfast. I need that quote coursing through my bloodstream. Kyrie Irving could come out today and say that the Earth is flat and that LeBron is a monster and the best he could do is take silver in the “Quote of the Year” award.

But Beasley, being Beasley, wasn’t done. Not even close. He knows what you think about his abilities on defense. He’s heard that criticism and he has some words for you: “I am not as bad a defender as you say I am. My help-side defense has been (shaky), I’ll give you that. But not a lot of people can score on me on the ball.”

See? He’s honest. He’s not claiming to be something he’s not. He’s not The Glove or The Worm, he’s The Beaz. And that means that he’s not really going to do much as a help-side defender. If the ball is on the opposite side and you’re looking for him to rotate over, you’re on your own. But if the situation is right and someone is trying to score on him straight up, he’s going to do something about that.

The more I read these quotes, the more I never want him to leave. What would the NBA be like without a guy like Michael Beasley declaring that “I just want an opportunity to play more than 15 minutes. And you know if I play more than 15 minutes I’m going to score more than 15 points. And if I can do that for 82 games, that’s an All-Star level. I don’t know. I’m just talking. I just want an opportunity to play basketball.”

Who cares that he’s only started 9 games in the last four seasons and he’s talking about being an All-Star. Normally, I’d say let’s get to 9 starts in a season before we start talking All-Star Game, but I love everything about Beasley right now. I’m not thinking All-Star game, I’m thinking 2020 Olympics. And 2024. And 2028 right here in Los Angeles, because he’s got that much gas left in the tank.

This man is a national treasure and we must do everything we can to protect him. I know we don’t deserve him, but I know we need him now more than ever. Rock on, Michael Beasley. Rock on.



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