ORLANDO, Fla. - Michael Beasley stood in the doorway to the gym an hour before gametime, iPod in his left hand, head bobbing slightly as he chatted with new Miami Heat teammate Mario Chalmers.
Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley, center, drives past Chicago Bulls guard Keith Langford, left, and guard Derrick Rose (1) during an NBA summer league basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Monday, July 7, 2008.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)
He was the picture of cool.
And on the court, his demeanor didn't change much.
If Beasley was the tiniest bit anxious about his first pro outing — one that came against the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose, the only player selected before him in last month's NBA draft — he hid the nerves perfectly. Beasley scored 28 points in 23 minutes, lifting Miami past Chicago 94-70 on Monday in the Orlando summer league opener for both teams.
It was the ninth-highest scoring performance in Orlando summer league history, and true to his form, Beasley wasn't the least bit impressed.
"Could have played better," he said. "Could have got a couple more assists, made a couple extra passes, got a couple more rebounds, could have got a couple stops early on."
He was 9-for-21 from the field, with nine rebounds and 19 points in the second half — matching the total that Bulls forwards Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas, both second-year NBA players, managed in the entire game. The Bulls started with Thomas guarding Beasley, switched to put Noah on him midway through the first quarter, and neither had much of an answer.
"He's a great player on the pick-and-roll and he's going to be someone who'll be very tough to guard," Noah said. "I mean, I was very impressed. He was very comfortable in everything that he wanted to do and he did a great job."
Meanwhile, Rose had some moments, but simply never took over the game offensively the way Beasley did.
The guard who spearheaded Memphis' run to the NCAA title game this past season finished with 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting, with four assists and five turnovers — mostly while being guarded by Chalmers, who hit the big shot as Kansas beat Rose's Tigers in overtime in that national championship game.
"We didn't win," Rose said, "so I think I played horrible. But tomorrow's a new day."
Kasib Powell had 15 points and Chalmers added 11 points and six assists for Miami. Demetris Nichols and Keith Langford both had 13 points for Chicago.
Each team plays five games in the six-team, weeklong summer league, which also features entries from Indiana, Orlando, New Jersey and Oklahoma City. Summer league games are really glorified scrimmages, each team dressed in practice gear, with no fans in the bleachers.
But Beasley vs. Rose garnered plenty of attention, which Beasley tried to ignore.
"You can put the Jolly Green Giant out there," Beasley said. "I'm going to still play, man."
Many players from the first game, Indiana-Oklahoma City, stuck around to watch the top two draft picks. A slew of NBA coaches and executives made sure to get good seats around the court before tipoff. Heat forward Dorell Wright, who had just flown home from California, decided to make the 3 1/2-hour drive north to watch the former Kansas State forward he hopes to be teammates with next season.
"I like to see the young guys," Wright said. "And he's going to be good."
He didn't disappoint.
Beasley's first shot was blocked by Thomas — "I caught a flat, man," Beasley said — but that was a rare lowlight. He split defenders off the dribble for layups. He rebounded his own missed 3-pointer, turned toward the basket and laid it back in. He switched at the perfect time on some pick-and-rolls, denying Rose the chance to penetrate.
"He's a great player," Rose said. "He's a force."
Beasley wasn't perfect. He forced some shots, especially early. He picked up three fouls in the opening minutes, and even though players can't foul out in summer league, Heat coach Keith Askins decided to teach the rookie a lesson and sat him for the second quarter.
"I'm going to let him play as long as he wants," Askins said, "as long as he stays out of trouble."
This much is already clear: With Beasley alongside Dwyane Wade, the Heat expect to be far removed from the 15-win wreck of a season they endured last year. The Bulls couldn't stop him from scoring, and couldn't even stop him from singing during stoppages of player, either. (Yes, they did ask.)
"I didn't want to," Beasley said. "I was happy, singing a happy song."
After his first pro outing, so were the Heat.
"Well, he's a hell of a basketball player," Askins said. "But we already knew that."