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News » Like all sports, NBA is past going to pot 2009-08-13

Like all sports, NBA is past going to pot 2009-08-13

Like all sports, NBA is past going to pot 2009-08-13

The drug of choice in the NBA long has been the cannabis plant, which is an almost quaint, amusing reality, considering the rampant useof performance-enhancing drugs in the NFL, major league baseball, the Olympics and the Tour de France.

Whenever the NBA gets around to administering the last of its fourin-season random tests in the spring, you can be certain that the statistical contributions of more than a few players are destined to plummet.

It is not as easy to make a shot if your eyes are bloodshot, your head is in the clouds and you have a bad case of the munchies.

More than a few NBA coaches have noticed what the in-season drug-testing procedure has wrought: players who consume copious amounts of alcohol during the regular season and then bong up the moment the last test has been performed.

Although the NBA has had its share of Cheech & Chong moments over the years - that is my friend's stash, officer - it largely has been free of the synthetic-drug-induced madness that has stalked so many other sports.

Rashard Lewis is changing that thinking, if only slightly.

He is the reed-thin Magic forward who received a 10-game suspension last week after testing positive for the banned hormone dehydroepiandrosterone in the playoffs.

Lewis, of course, said it was merely a dumb mistake, that the dog ate the drug label, that two shots of whiskey and four beers can imitate a banned hormone.

Or something like that.

It no longer matters what anyone says in the drug culture, becauseit usually never adds up. There are schoolchildren who fabricate better denials than professional athletes.

To those who insist that performance-enhancing drugs would not help a player shoot a Basketball through the cylinder with any greater regularity, that is hardly the point. This is not about a drug that improves the hand-eye coordination of an athlete.

What performance-enhancing drugs do is help with a player's strength, endurance and ability to recover from an injury.

You think Basketball players are against adding strength and endurance? You think they are against returning to the lineup as soon as possible? You think a tough-minded inside player would be against adding 20 pounds of armor to his upper body during an offseason?

But here is the thing: The NBA has changed considerably the last 20 years. There are no Bill Laimbeers, no Charles Oakleys, no Anthony Masons, no genuinely brawny players who excel because of their ruggedbodies.

The players who have come in their place are Andrei Kirilenko and Anderson Varejao: lanky, athletic, even gangly types who foil opponents with their hustle instead of their elbows.

As Ernie Grunfeld has said a number of times, his gritty Knicks teams of the '90s would not survive in today's game. His starters all would be in foul trouble in the first five minutes because of the way the game is called today.

In that context, the way the game is officiated today discourages the use of synthetic drugs. Yet there is no denying that NBA players,like all athletes, are forever looking for one more edge. If the useof synthetic drugs can provide it, well, NBA players are apt to be as susceptible to them as anyone else.

When Olympic athletes in the most obscure sports are found to be using synthetic drugs, you know no sports entity is immune from the scourge, not even the NBA .

Maybe Lewis made an innocent mistake, as he said. But it is his job to know the NBA drug policy. It is his job to read the labels. And,if in doubt about a particular drug, it is his job to ask the team trainer. How complicated is that?

It certainly is not complicated with marijuana.

Most NBA players know exactly when it is time to fire up the bong and let the good times roll.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 13, 2009


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