Has the stench of performance enhancing drugs penetrated the NBA? Somehow I doubt it.
On a scale of 1-10,
But do I think this is just the tip of the iceberg? Do I think Lewis' positive test will be the first of many to start spilling out of the league offices? Probably not.
Why? For starters, there isn't a rich history of steroid users in the NBA. There is no secret list of hundreds of players who have tested positive in a drawer somewhere like there is in baseball, and there are no high-profile cautionary tales like those of former NFL players
Second, there is the drug, DHEA, that was in Lewis's system.
Third, as an NBA reporter for the last six years and as a locker room attendant with the Boston Celtics the eight years prior to that, I have never heard so much as a whisper of players juicing. Working both the home and away locker rooms in Boston, I saw a lot of things. I saw which players liked to drink (a lot), which ones liked to smoke (even more) and which ones liked both. I witnessed some unbelievably stupid decisions by players that, to a degree, compromised the integrity of the game. In many ways, I saw the underbelly of professional sports. But I never saw or heard anything related to performance enhancing drugs.
All of which leads back to the same conclusion, one that has been expressed to me by several NBA sources with knowledge of the situation. Lewis unknowingly bought a supplement with the banned drug. He used it. He got busted.
Should Lewis be criticized? Absolutely. Every NBA team employs trainers and strength coaches who either have a working knowledge of what supplements are legal or the ability to access that information quickly. One phone call probably could have saved Lewis from all this trouble.
And even if the team wasn't involved, so what? Today's players have more handlers than
And what about the Magic? The fight for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference is going to be a dogfight next season, with Boston, Cleveland and Washington all loading up for a run at the top seed. Losing Lewis, the Magic's starting power forward and arguably their best perimeter weapon, for 10 games could prove costly as the battle for the Nos. 1-4 could come down to one or two wins.
So criticize Lewis for the stupidity of his actions and the cost it could have on the Magic next season. But be careful not to overreact. The NBA has a solid drug testing policy -- they randomly test every player four times during the season for everything from marijuana to steroids -- and no track record to warrant overwhelming skepticism.
Sometimes a mistake is just a mistake.