Kevin Durant grew speechless last summer, unsure of what to say to his childhood friend and former teammate who had fallen on hard times.
Durant wanted to reach out to Michael Beasley, but what would he say? The Thunder’s star had never been admitted into a rehabilitation center as Beasley was in mid-August, never felt like it’s not worth living and never got so frustrated that he needed to publicly declare that the world was against him.
"I didn’t want to be the guy that said the same things everybody else had said,” Durant said. "So I just prayed for him. That’s all I could do because I didn’t know what to tell him.”
Durant does know how close Beasley came to not being here, in sound mind and spirit as his Miami Heat gears up to take on the Thunder tonight at American Airlines Arena.
That’s why, for Durant, tonight’s contest will take on greater significance. Why when the two embrace shortly before tip-off, Durant will smile and be grateful. Why before trying to beat in Beasley’s brains, Durant will rejoice at the sight of the friend who is attempting to recapture his basketball brilliance while leaving behind the mischievous monkey business.
"I’m just happy to see him doing well and bouncing back and not letting it faze him,” said Durant, who has known Beasley since they were 10 year olds in suburban Washington. "Because he easily could have broke down. He didn’t. He fought through it. God tested him, and I think he’s passed it.”
Durant said he remains close with Beasley but admitted there isn’t much time to be sociable during the season. The two players who were teammates on the same AAU squad as youngsters, however, routinely spend much their off-seasons together. Last summer was no different before Beasley left for Houston to train and work out in a new environment.
Then Durant heard the news of Beasley checking into a rehab center, and like everyone else, he saw the controversial postings on Beasley’s now-terminated Twitter account.