Apparently the answer is yes.
Before the game, the board was filled with a checklist of items to remind Wolves players of their responsibilities. Whatever game plan Wolves coach Kurt Rambis had intended was never executed, prompting claims from Rambis of a lack of professionalism in his players and an alarming assessment from a frustrated Michael Beasley.
“I feel like everything we’ve been working on since training camp went out the window tonight,” Beasley said. “As of right now, we’re the worst team in the NBA.”
Wait, there’s more.
“I talk about us being the hardest-working team in the league, and we didn’t show it tonight,” Wolves forward Kevin Love said. “We should have been a lot more aggressive. It’s just not acceptable.”
Rambis took the situation one step further.
“Part of being a professional in this league is finding ways to come out and play hard each and every night,” he said. “That’s the mark of a true team, a professional team and professional individuals, to get the job done every night. Every once in a while is not good enough.”
Beasley was so disturbed with the results that he sat in front of his locker stall staring at the floor with his uniform on. He was the last player still in uniform, but he had a reason. Beasley was preparing to go back onto the court to do some extra shooting.
Despite 29 turnovers resulting in a record 22 steals for the Grizzlies, I wasn’t as upset with the road team’s effort as they were with themselves. This was the second night of a back to back and though Memphis was without its premier post presence in Zach Randolph, they still had their share of mismatches to choose from. Most notably, Michael Beasley on Rudy Gay.
There’s already been plenty of chatter regarding Beas’ true position and Saturday night’s matchup may have taken a few more votes out of the SF column. While he’s able to bully smaller defenders and blow by the bigger ones, when faced with an athlete and scorer of Gay’s caliber, Beasley is left with little recourse on either end of the court. Granted, Son of Sam had better shot selection than our lovable misfit, but we can’t expect Beas to get taller, quicker or more explosive, right? Just more consistent.
Well, that’s going to take a while. Kurt Rambis tells us that the title of team’s “best player” is up for debate, yet it’s readily apparent that essentially all of the candidates play the same position. Furthermore, they’re all specialists who play the same position. Kevin Love is primarily a rebounder, Anthony Tolliver-who has played some inspired ball-is a defender and Beasley is a scorer, in the looser sense of the word. (Of course Wesley Johnson hasn’t proven himself to be chopped liver either, logging significant minutes at the three spot, Beas’ ‘other’ position.) Point being, Beasley is a man without a position on a team relatively rife with options wherever he may be played. It’s tough for a young man to find his game under such circumstances. And his coach hasn’t even set a rotation yet.
Yet for someone liable to say practically anything at any given time, Beas’ willingness to consistently say and do the right things-so far-is more than encouraging, it may prove inspirational. I can’t imagine that his postgame shootaround (seriously, how many times has that happened?) went unnoticed or unappreciated and perhaps it forced some of our other young men to take stock of their own deficiencies.
Speaking of unappreciated, Pat Riley didn’t find Beasley ‘super cool’ at all, routinely questioning his commitment and capability before shipping him our way. But apparently he taught the kid more about leadership than we thought.
This isn’t the worst team in the NBA, just the youngest. And tonight, maybe, just maybe, they’ll be the most motivated.