Stop This Man


I said my basic peace on the Rashard Lewis suspension over at The Baseline. Read here for my (ahem) baseline analysis, plus the Manny coincidence. Excuse me if I'm not foaming and fuming about this one.

To get a little deeper, even if you want to suspect certain players of juicing—especially those guys who enjoy working out—you've got to look at these suspicions in context. Same goes for the Lewis thing. Baseball and football are knee-deep in PED problems, and obviously have a culture that promotes and enables them. Does anyone have any evidence that such a thing exists in basketball? A suspension like this is, to be sure, startling. But it's almost as if people assume that, if MLB and the NFL are dirty, then surely that same climate must be present in basketball.

I know there's no consensus on whether NBA players could benefit. Even if they could, I'd have to get some inkling that it wasn't just a few isolated cases. That's now how it works in those other sports, so why would it be like that here? And saying "it's in other sports" is, like I said, a total fucking fallacy. Show me the sea change in play, in stats, in injuries; the rumors that make it past the ESPN boards; more than one person ever suspended for a non-diet pill violation. As I've said many a time, that the league is all too willing to share information about PED suspensions, but stays mum on hard drugs, doesn't just imply they have nothing to hide—they want it out there just how unworried they are, how minor these trangressions are expected to be.

Now tell me, as much as baseball was in denial, would it ever had gone out of its way to craft a policy that was so casual and transparent about PEDs? Conversely, while I may not be the world's biggest insider, I think I'd at least have once heard—from people who know—that a player was suspected. Which wouldn't even in itself convince me, since it takes more than one person to change the course of PED history. Unless you believe Jose Canseco's "I am the Messian of steroids" crap.

P.S. While you're over there, check out today's column on fan psychology and 2010.

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At 8/06/2009 7:41 PM, Blogger Ritchie said...


At 8/06/2009 9:16 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

You're proving my point. One freak of nature does not a culture of doping make. In fact, that there's only one LeBron makes me that much less likely to question him.

Interesting note: As far as I can tell, DHEA is not banned by baseball, so could be used (as Manny planned to) in appeal to explain high testosterone. DHEA is banned in the NBA despite the fact that it isn't particularly high-grade; it just produces a level consistent with the use of stronger stuff. So in effect, the NBA will ban you just for taking something that could produce these levels.

It's like the NBA doesn't even figure players will take the supplements that could make this a problem, policy-wise.

Someone please correct me if I'm misunderstanding all this.

At 8/06/2009 9:57 PM, Blogger Raoul Duke said...

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At 8/06/2009 9:58 PM, Blogger Raoul Duke said...

LeBron aside (because at some level, I have to just have to believe that there are guys who are freakishly athletic, i.e. Phelps, Jordan, Tiger, LeBron, etc...), the most obvious example that stands out in my mind is the Phoenix Suns Playoff-Era version of Tim Thomas. A guy who came into the league floating around as a 6'10, 210 pound combo-forward allergic to the paint, was reborn a sharp shooting, 230+ pound bruising post defender... Seriously, though, I know this is going to get blown out of proportion, but I can't help but wonder if this just isn't a big deal at all...

At 8/06/2009 9:59 PM, Blogger Habib said...

Jose Canseco broke the omerta; that's why baseball's problem came to light, even though no one believed him at the time. Consider that the NBA's testing policy is very weak compared to other leagues (4 tests a year, none in the offseason); all professional sports have problems with doping; there have been plenty of incidents in other professional basketball leagues worldwide and the NBA is supposedly the highest level of basketball; and the US team did not have to go through the Olympic drug testing (since NBA is a member of WADA). No smoking guns, but what did you expect? Oh yeah, their anti-doping chief is chosen by the NBA; he's not independent.

At 8/06/2009 9:59 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I think that's called "getting fat."

At 8/06/2009 10:02 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Habib--I was referring to Canseco's claim that he single-handedly invented the steroids era.

And as you know, I'm not convinced by the "everybody else is doing it" logic.

At 8/06/2009 10:14 PM, Blogger Raoul Duke said...

With all due respect, Shoals, that's the best shape he's ever been in during his entire pitiful career... He was jacked to the teeth. Watch the clips: it is the only reason why he got another massive contract after sucking his way through his previous two.

At 8/06/2009 10:31 PM, Blogger Habib said...

I don't think you should assume there is a problem in the NBA; everyone knows the drug of choice in the NBA. But given the nature of professional athletics today, you have to keep an open mind. To do otherwise is, I think, hopelessly naive.

At 8/06/2009 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doping helps athletes recover. The NBA is a grind. Jason Caffey was on steroids. I have nothing to prove it other than how Jason Caffey looked before he was on roids. I have always felt like NBAers would benefit, if relief pictures benefit. I knew dudes crushing andro who were weekend warrior boarder cross geeks. People like winning and we are largely a group of people who cheat and use drugs (legal or otherwise).

Shoals I don't mean to piss on your parade, I think your work on this site is amazing and hoops heads owe you a great deal on debt, but do you honestly trust Stern and Pro Sports. Why would the NBA be any different?

PS Who needs facts. I certainly have none, but I stand by my argument like Senator Sanford wife stand by her man.

Funny tow that there is a recent NY times peice about dudes just getting bigger and then this pops. Freemason type shit, no doubt!

At 8/07/2009 12:50 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Only dude I've ever suspected was Big Ben. Nobody else.

Think about it - rebounding is the only basketball 'skill' that is both vastly dependent on physical strength/explosiveness as well as (relatively) independent of other basketball skills.

It's a singular physical exertion predicated on good timing, kinda like power cleaning a bar, swinging a bat, or sprinting a distance.

Everything else- shooting, dribbling, passing, scoring, - requires some type of complex and interconnected (to a degree) hand-eye coordination skill. Not saying that rebounding doesn't require those too, but you rarely see the overlap of these skills with 'pure' rebounders like Ben, Reggie Evans, etc. All those guys suck at everything else you do with a basketball.

Big ben - unheralded out of college, (much like a lot of known 'roid users in baseball - guys like piazza, big papi, etc). mediocre numbers for the first couple of seasons. gets traded. balloons into a BEAST somewhere along the line. starts pulling in 15 boards/game for a couple of seasons. hits a big payday. mysteriously is never the same again, headed for an anonymous retirement.

I'm just saying, IF there was to be a PEDs bust in basketball, I suspect it would be one of those big bruiser type guys who can give u 15 boards and nothing else, while shooting 50% from the line.
A guy like Ben who had the sudden statistical jump to prominence in one area, and subsequent mysterious sudden decline.

At 8/07/2009 12:54 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

And before I forget:

Shard?! For real?! The guy everybody was bangin' on for being soft as tissue, who hung around the 3 point arc launching fade aways all game while people begged him to take it inside hard on andy varejao? Please. He's not on any PEDs.

At 8/07/2009 4:10 AM, Blogger Kaifa said...

I don't believe there is a PED epidemic throughout the whole NBA. I'm glad my favorite sport is so reliant on talent and skill that it can't be as easily manipulated as purely power-based or endurance-based sports.

But: there is no consensus on whether NBA players would benefit from PEDs because one side arguing is players and former players/front office people. I can't believe any serious sports scientists or doctors working in the field would actually make such a claim unless they had an agenda.

There are ways to increase speed, stamina, power that don't turn you into a rail-thin Lance Armstrong or a raging Mike Tyson. Meaning, even a guy labeled "soft" like Rashard Lewis would in theory profit greatly from a specifically designed PED program. It wouldn't improve his shooting, but it would improve the surrounding conditions to enable him to be a great shooter.

And if we are talking about muscle and shooting touch, I point to Karl Malone. The guy looked right at home at a juiced-up WWF (or WWE?) event yet still hit mid-range jumpers at a great rate. If his reported body fat % of around 3% was correct, which looking at him might very well be, chances are that this wasn't all the result of him running uphill with a chute strapped to his back during summer. Such a low level of body fat is almost impossible to achieve naturally. Also, you're much more likely to look like a Kenyan long-distance runner than freaking Karl Malone.

As Habib mentioned, the NBA is employing their own control agency, so they have ultimate control over what they release and what they keep under cover. To exaggerate a little, this is like me driving drunk, then using my own breathalizer and telling the cop I'm just below the legal limit.

At 8/07/2009 9:23 AM, Blogger djturtleface said...

I don't think Big Ben, solely because I felt like his the look of his body always fit his face, he had that silent warrior-king thing going on.

Also wasn't it sort of proven that the Pistons were running weird schemes to just filter drivers into him and boxing out so he could always get the boards?

At 8/07/2009 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the fact that James White can hardly keep an NBA job is evidence that athleticism is one of the least important attributes for success in the NBA. That would seem to nullify the need for PEDs, that said there is a minimum level of physical conditioning required to compete at a high level in the NBA, so I would not be surprised if players were tempted to take PEDs to get back into shape after an injury.

At 8/07/2009 10:44 AM, Blogger Kaifa said...

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At 8/07/2009 10:44 AM, Blogger Kaifa said...

Just came across this - not saying it's the absolute truth (asking around in your gym is not evidence), but definitely a perspective worth considering:


At 8/07/2009 10:48 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

That guy seems to have backtracked so much that I can't tell what was initial overreaction and what was choppy redaction.

DHEA is banned by the NBA. Not by baseball. I've read places that it really doesn't help much in the PED department, beyond being part of some supplements that contain many other ingredients. If anything, the NBA's testing policy is making this seem worse than it is. I'm sure Shard took this on purpose, except he had no reason to take it on purpose with an expressly PED-related goal in mind, since it's not good for that.

At 8/07/2009 2:31 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

If there was a culture of doping in the NBA, there wouldn't be Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Durant.

At 8/07/2009 3:16 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Perhaps someone here can explain to me why I'm supposed to care whether a professional athlete in any sport is using PEDs.

wv: fibrodia--come on, it sounds like a next gen doping agent!

At 8/17/2009 12:24 AM, Blogger BigSaxmo said...

"If there was a culture of doping in the NBA, there wouldn't be Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Durant."

Flawless logic.


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