King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Michael Beasley's one and done: When the going gets good, the good turn pro. Plus: Big Papi's buried jersey.

By King Kaufman

Published April 15, 2008 10:00AM (EDT)

Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley surprised almost no one by announcing Monday that he'll enter this spring's NBA draft, where he's expected to be the first or second pick. Memphis point guard Derrick Rose, who is also reportedly ready to turn pro after the NBA-requisite one year in college, would be the only player likely to go higher than Beasley.

Beasley and Rose are by leaps and bounds better players than consensus Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina, who at 22 is three years their senior.

Nothing against Hansbrough, an excellent college player who's got a chance to be a solid pro, but if they're retiring his number at North Carolina, they ought to be breaking ground for museums for Beasley and Rose at K-State and Memphis.

Beasley huddled with friends, family and advisors over the weekend as he struggled with the decision, according to press reports. That's a credit to him, that he gave a major life decision serious thought rather than just doing the obvious thing, which would have been to take the millions of dollars available to him the instant he declared for the draft.

That said, going pro was the obvious thing to do for a good reason. Millions of them.

Yes, that makes me a crass worshipper of the almighty dollar over education and all that, though I'd be willing to change my view for a few bucks.

Wait, that's not what I was going to say. I was going to say that Beasley, who has talked about taking the usually mythical "student-athlete" label seriously, can continue his education at any time for the rest of his life, including the time he spends in the NBA. Perhaps you remember Vince Carter taking time out from playoff preparations to graduate from the University of North Carolina a few years ago.

What Carter did isn't easy. It gets harder to go back to college every day you're away, especially when what many people mistakenly believe is the sole purpose of college -- preparing the student to get a good job -- is no longer a motivator because the student is taking naps on beds made of Benjamins.

But if you're going to face a hard decision, like whether to go back to college, might as well do it as a multimillionaire, don't you think? I think that and would like to try it sometime. But that opportunity -- becoming an instant millionaire -- might not always be there for Beasley. He could get injured during his sophomore year, or he could just lose his basketball mojo and have his stock drop.

Here's how one of his advisors put it: "In life, you only have so many opportunities for certain things. He's got a huge opportunity right now ... I think he's going to go, and I think it's the right thing to do, because he's going to be the top pick in the draft."

That, according to the Associated Press, is Frank Martin talking. Martin is Kansas State's coach.

When a player's own college coach is not just acknowledging the sad fact that he'll probably lose his star to the pros but actively pushing the kid out of the nest and saying, "It's the right thing to do," I think we can at long last bury the sanctimonious nonsense that it's always better to stay in school. I think even Dick Vitale will have to give it a rest now.

OK, Dick Vitale won't, but he's in the Hall of Fame now. We can indulge him. Everyone else -- NBA commissioner David Stern, for instance, who's pushing to add another year to the league's silly minimum age -- should listen to Frank Martin and get a grip.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

The Ortiz jersey: No way to start a curse [PERMALINK]

I can't help thinking that all parties in the Big Papi Buried Jersey Brouhaha handled it badly.

I wish I could help it. I'd like to think about something worthwhile instead, but that's my own curse.

In case you were in a coma: A construction worker buried a David Ortiz Boston Red Sox jersey under two feet of concrete last year at the new $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium in order to try to curse the home team. The Red Sox-loving worker, 46-year-old Gino Castignoli, is, deliciously, a native of the Bronx who fell in love with the Sox as a kid during their 1975 World Series run.

After first refusing the assignment, he ended up working on the stadium site for only one day, the Boston Herald reports.

Castignoli's mistake was not keeping his mouth shut about his stunt until the New Big Ballpark in the Bronx was good and built. The Yankees got wind of it, and several workers spent five hours and $50,000 jackhammering away in search of the jersey. All at taxpayer expense, no doubt.

They found it. Hey, it was a David Ortiz jersey. How hard could it have been? Yankees execs donated the jersey to the Jimmy Fund, a Boston cancer charity with close ties to the Red Sox, and they've been making huffing noises ever since.

"We were in touch with the DA of the Bronx and the ADA and we were discussing, analyzing and understanding whether or not there is criminality involved," said chief operating officer Leon Trost. President Randy Levine added, "Hopefully the Jimmy Fund will auction it off and we'll take the act that was a very, very bad act and turn it into something beautiful."

Very, very bad. Not just very bad.

"Anybody with half a brain knows it was all done in fun," Castignoli told the New York Post, eliminating an awful lot of people when it comes to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

What the Yankees should have done was leave the jersey right where it was and start talking Red Sox curse 2.0. David Ortiz ended the weekend hitting .070, not a typo, with one home run and three RBIs in 43 at-bats. He had a .231 on-base percentage and a .140 slugging percentage, not a typo and not a typo.

That would have been a good time to blame Big Papi's slump on Hardhat Red Sox Boy. I mean, how could such a very, very bad act not bring down the wrath of the baseball gods on the very person whose jersey was underground? The Yankees could have made Castignoli's life miserable and given Red Sox fans a new curse to worry about, all with one wry smile and a few well-chosen words. Every time something went wrong with the Red Sox, they could have reminded everybody about the jersey.

And then they could have given the 50 G's to the Jimmy Fund, which I'll bet is more than the jersey will bring.

Previous column: A million miles from the show

- - - - - - - - - - - -

  • Bookmark to get the new Kaufman column every day.
  • Get a Salon Sports RSS feed.
  • Visit the King Kaufman Sports Daily archive.
  • To receive the Sports Daily Newsletter, send an e-mail to

  • King Kaufman

    King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

    MORE FROM King Kaufman

    Related Topics ------------------------------------------

    Baseball Basketball