Somebody stole the pizza, and all signs pointed to the new kid. Eight years ago, Michael Beasley was awkward and clumsy on the basketball...
Somebody stole the pizza, and all signs pointed to the new kid.
Eight years ago, Michael Beasley was awkward and clumsy on the basketball court. Everyone at the Seat Pleasant Activities Center just outside Washington, D.C., could see that he had raw talent, but he lacked focus. He was undisciplined and difficult to coach.
After his first few hours practicing with the boys’ team, Beasley was told to leave the gym and not return.
Before leaving, the new kid swiped a box of pizza the team had planned for lunch.
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That was the first time Sonics rookie guard Kevin Durant met Beasley.
“We were 11 years old when we met,” Durant said. “We had a team and the guy that ran the organization (PK Martin) heard about him and brought him down to the rec center. Mike practiced with us one day, and he was awful. You could tell that he was good, but I guess he was nervous. He was lazy. He didn’t play like he wanted to.
“And when he left, he stole our pizza. Our big pizza. We had just ordered it, too.”
Some first impressions you never forget.
Durant can’t tell that story without laughing. But really, it’s all so absurd when you think about it.
Two friends would devote their lives to chasing a basketball dream. The older boy (Durant) would blaze a path that the younger one would follow.
In their freshman seasons, each would attend National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Md. As juniors, they’d attend acclaimed Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, where they bolster their national reputation and become prominent collegiate recruits.
As seniors, they’d transfer to different high schools closer to home.
They’d win the MVP award of the McDonald’s All-America Game.
They’d attend Big 12 schools. Durant to Texas, Beasley to Kansas State.
They’d win the conference Freshman of the Year award.
They’d leave school after one year.
And they’d both become high lottery picks in the NBA draft. Durant was taken No. 2 overall last year by the Sonics and Beasley is considered by many to be top pick in the June 26 draft.
Who would believe that story?
Depending on what happens at Tuesday’s draft lottery, the Sonics may be in position to reunite the childhood friends.
Seattle finished with the second-worst record in the NBA, which gives it a 19.9 percent chance of landing the top spot. The team has an 18.8 percent chance of drafting No. 2, 17.1 percent chance of picking third, 31.9 percent chance of picking fourth and a 12.3 percent chance at the fifth choice. Lottery rules say the Sonics can fall no lower than fifth in the draft order.
Still, the odds of selecting two kids from nearby neighborhoods so high in the draft in consecutive years are infinitesimal.
Beasley remembers meeting Durant, and he also confessed to the pizza heist.
“Where I lived was not the best area to grow up in,” he said of his hometown of Upper Marlboro, Md. “I didn’t know when the next time I was going to eat.”
Even though Beasley stole the team’s lunch and was horrible in practice, Martin invited him back.
“From there, he was kind of the jokester of the team,” Durant said. “Everybody just kind of drew to Mike. He didn’t play that much early on, but one game we were in the championship and it went to like a triple overtime and he had 20 and 20 [points and rebounds].
“He was 12 years old. And all he was doing was tipping the ball to himself. He was almost dunking. His hands were so big. He was getting rebounds, and his hands were at the rim laying it in. After that he was a monster from then.”
Durant and Beasley became inseparable.
“He sort of lived with me almost,” Durant said. “He would come over before school, after school, stay late and then leave. [Our relationship] is very tight. We’re brothers. We tell each other we love each other. We’ve been through a lot. Almost the same things.”
Beasley’s mom was a single woman raising four kids. When the boys were teenagers, Beasley’s mother would drop him off at Durant’s home every day at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast. Durant and Beasley would ride the bus to school and play basketball in the evenings.
“He was a good kid,” Wanda Pratt, Durant’s mother, said of Beasley. “He was fun-loving. He liked to have a good time. His personality is not as serious as Kevin. He was always well-mannered. I never had a problem with Mike.”
Everyone calls him B-Easy, but his playful personality belies a fierce competitiveness on the court.
Much like Durant, Beasley is versatile. He’s a relentless scorer in the paint and a lethal perimeter shooter with three-point range. And his 6-foot-9, 235-pound frame is more suited for the rigors of a six-month NBA season than Durant, the Rookie of the Year, who weighed 215 last season.
“We’re a lot alike, but he’s a different player than I am,” Durant said. “I would say he’s more like Carmelo [Anthony] because he has more of an inside-out game. The biggest difference in us is he’ll be a No. 1 pick. I hate to put that pressure on him, but he’ll be a No. 1 pick.”
During the season they talked at least twice a week, and admittedly a few times they kicked around the idea of playing together for the Sonics.
“Yeah, we thought about it, but wherever he goes, I wish him the best,” Durant said. “If we happen to play on the same team, he can play inside out. He would be a great low-post presence. We’d just learn from each other. We’d be a very young team.
“That would be so cool. I’m not going to say it’s impossible, because you never know what can happen.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org