Patrick Beverley’s actions over the years have undermined his unlikely success

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Patrick Beverley’s career should be celebrated as a success story. It should be recognized as a testament to the power of hard work, tenacity and competitive will.

The 12-year veteran was not a lottery pick or even a first-round draft choice. He spent three years in Greece and Russia before earning an NBA roster spot. That he has stuck around for more than a decade as an undersized guard with limited offensive skills and career averages of eight points, four rebounds and three assists is a script straight out of Disney.

There won’t be an after-school special about Beverley because his antics now overshadow that arc. The most recent examples occurred Thursday night in a loss to the Indiana Pacers, ending his Milwaukee Bucks’ season. As Beverley stood along the Milwaukee sideline, he twice threw a ball at fans behind the bench, even hitting a woman in the head. Afterward, he told ESPN producer Malinda Adams she could not interview him because she does not subscribe to his podcast.

On Friday, Adams said Beverley called her to apologize, with Bucks coach Doc Rivers saying he did so without being asked to do so by the team. Left unsaid was whether he called all the other reporters he treated similarly even before joining the Bucks, and whether he is truly remorseful or simply responding because a light was shined on his actions and ESPN is a media-rights partner. Beverley also posted on X, “But I have to be better. And I will” about the ball-throwing incident after first saying the fan had been razzing the Bucks all night.

There was a time when some might have chuckled and written this off as PatBev being PatBev, but those days are long gone for a 35-year-old player whose contributions don’t warrant the accompanying headaches. Teams often ask themselves at moments like these whether the juice is worth the squeeze. Beverley playing for six teams over the last four seasons would seem to be a clear indication he is not.

How it got to this point makes for an interesting and cautionary tale. Early on, it was hard not to root for Beverley.

He was the quintessential underdog who got by almost on sheer will. He shadowed, pressed, bumped, pulled and stayed so close to opponents he could identify their brand of deodorant. Rivers has called him an instigator, but “irritant” is a better word. Beverley takes pleasure in getting under the skin of opponents with antics like forcefully grabbing the ball from their hands during a stoppage in play, making a “too small” gesture on his occasional scores in the lane or just talking incessantly.

From afar, we laugh and applaud. Can you believe this dude? He’s the guy you love if he’s on your team and loathe if he is not. There was value in being a disruptor, an instigator, an irritant. But over time, Beverley has taken things too far.

There is the on-court drama. In Game 2 of a 2013 first-round playoff series, while playing for the Houston Rockets, Beverley lunged at the ball just as Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook was about to call a timeout, hitting Westbrook’s knee and knocking him out of the postseason. In 2021, he forcefully shoved Chris Paul in the back during a timeout after Paul hit a 3-pointer to put the Phoenix Suns up by 26 late in the fourth quarter in a game that eliminated Beverley’s LA Clippers.

There are also non-basketball shenanigans, like in 2020, when he told reportedly Michele Roberts, then the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, that she could not speak during a discussion on the NBA’s return to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because “I pay your salary”; or the back-and-forths with Westbrook on social media or the beefs with Damian Lillard, which included an injured Beverley mocking “Dame Time” from the sideline after Lillard missed a pair of clutch free throws in a loss. Beverley also grabbed a photographer’s camera and attempted to put it in the face of an official after no foul call was made on a play involving LeBron James last season.

Such things may have been cute at one time, but they paint a disturbing picture when stacked on top of one another. Going back to the fallout from the Westbrook injury, Beverley seemed to enjoy the role of villain. He leaned into it. And why not? No one was consistently checking him on it. The whole thing about refusing to take questions from anyone who’s not a subscriber to his podcast never should have been allowed by team management, and yet it was permitted even before Beverley arrived in Milwaukee. That’s a failure in leadership.

The NBA media policy is fuzzy on what’s considered acceptable behavior during postgame availability, stating: “Teams must make players available based on media requests and may not simply assume two available players at each practice is sufficient. Teams must be flexible to increase the number of available players if a situation dictates.” That said, history indicates that just showing up is not enough. Professionalism matters.

In 2003, for instance, Rasheed Wallace was fined a total of $30,000 for two separate incidents that violated media interview access policies, including answering every question with, “Both teams played hard, my man.”

The NBA goes out of its way to ensure a professional environment in locker rooms. That is one reason access is limited to Tier 1 media members, otherwise known as journalists with credible, established track records of covering the league or sports at large. This is done out of respect for both the players and media. Beverley has been around long enough to know this, so summarily dismissing an ESPN producer because she does not subscribe to his pod is both unprofessional and disrespectful. More than that, it should be a concern to the league office for multiple reasons.

One, the last thing the NBA wants is for others to imitate this type of behavior — and that’s always a danger when something like this goes viral and there are no consequences for the conduct. Two, it’s a slap in the face to players who do things the right way. For instance, last year The Athletic’s Eric Nehm asked Giannis Antetokounmpo if he considered the season a failure after Milwaukee lost its first-round playoff series to the Miami Heat in five games, marking just the fifth time in league history a top seed has lost to a No. 8. Antetokounmpo clearly did not like the question, but not only did he answer it, he also did so in a professional and respectful way, stopping himself at one point when he realized his answer might come off as personal.

That was the right way; Beverley took the wrong route. I can only wish other reporters would have walked away from Beverley the moment he excluded Adams from asking questions.

Beverley is not dumb. He knows what he’s doing. The more controversial the behavior, the more attention it draws. And for an undersized, offensively challenged player who has been let go by the Clippers, Timberwolves, Lakers, Bulls and 76ers in the last three calendar years alone, it’s not out of line to wonder if his actions are a means of carrying the villain role into a second career. At this point, it appears he may have worn out his welcome in the NBA, which is no one’s fault but his own.

(Photo of Patrick Beverley: Stacy Revere / Getty Images)

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