Posts Tagged ‘Alex Rodriguez’

Failed Drug Tests Aren’t Only Teeth In NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program

Like the folks who run Major League Baseball, the NBA believes it has a strong, modern, effective anti-drug program.

Like MLB, the NBA has worked with its players association and consulted with top authorities in the field to build an exhaustive and ever-evolving list of banned substances, from marijuana to drugs of abuse to the more topical, integrity-challenging steroids, performance-enhancers and masking agents.

So with MLB embroiled in recent weeks in the investigation of and penalties to 14 players snared in that sport’s latest doping scandal – without any indication that even one of those players failed a drug test – the question for the NBA or any other league seemed obvious: How good can an anti-drug program really be if admitted violators aren’t testing positive?

The answer from NBA HQ: Pretty good, because its anti-drug program goes beyond testing.

In baseball’s probe of the Biogenesis clinic in south Florida, it took leaked documents, statements from lab founder Anthony Bosch and an associate, other sources of information and an article in the Miami New Times, an alternative news publication, to snare the PED users.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game ban on July 22. Twelve major leaguers already have acknowledged their involvement and begun suspensions of 50 games each, while Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game suspension.

The names of athletes from other sports supposedly turned up in the investigation, and NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said that he, chief compliance officer Rick Buchanan and other league executives were not aware of the involvement with Biogenesis of any NBA players.

None wanted to comment specifically on the MLB cases or their ramifications for the NBA. But the league’s anti-drug program has provisions that don’t require a failed test to intitiate the discipline process. Beyond the six random, unannounced tests during each season and offseason to which each player is subject, tests can be administered based on reasonable cause at any time.

Also, the policy allows for evidence coming from outside sources, such as Biogenesis’ trail of texts and electronic messages. A summary of the NBA’s program includes the following:

If the NBA obtains evidence of a player’s use, possession or distribution of a Prohibited Substance, it can take that evidence to a neutral arbitrator. If the arbitrator finds that the player has used or possessed a Drug of Abuse, or has distributed any Prohibited Substance, he will be dismissed and disqualified from the NBA. If the arbitrator finds that the player has used or possessed Marijuana or a SPED, such a finding is considered a violation under the Program and the player will be subject to the same penalties imposed for a positive drug test.

Silver also repeated to the New York Post last week what he and commissioner David Stern talked about after the Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas last month: The NBA is looking to implement testing for human growth hormone (HGH), in addition to the urine testing that’s conducted for approximately 160 prohibited substances on its current list. HGH is on that list and NBA players who participate in international and Olympic competition have undergone the blood testing it requires, but that provision is not yet contained in the league’s anti-drug policy.

Negotiating for that with the National Basketball Players Association – the anti-drug program is “jointly maintained and administered” by the NBA and the union – currently is on hold while the NBPA attends to other business. A new president to succeed Derek Fisher in the top agenda item at the the NBPA summer meeting Wednesday in Las Vegas, and the search for a new executive director to replace Billy Hunter could last through the end of 2013.

Some might consider it luck, and a statement on the early types of steroids and their effects, that the culture of PEDs has not taken hold in the NBA as it has in some other sports.

Now at least – much as MLB has seen in the wake of its latest scandal – the NBA is optimistic that the majority of its players see them as cheating and want to deter their use.

The First 50 Years With Sir Charles


When you walked into Charles Barkley’s little slice of the locker room, you might as well have stepped into a whole different world. It was a world where heads were shaved, complimentary tickets distributed, insults hurled, jokes told, social commentary delivered, reporters sent away sated and one of the best basketball players on the planet had to prepare himself for the next game. All of it seemed to occur in the space of five minutes.

“There will never be another player like me,” Barkley once said. “I’m the Ninth Wonder of the World.”

You know? He was right.

Here is Barkley, 13 years after lacing up his sneakers in an NBA game for the final time, more popular than ever as a television personality, opinionator and, well, just plain liver of life.

If Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday on Sunday felt like a royal occasion with seemingly everyone in the basketball world taking time to genuflect in the throne room, then Barkley’s, coming just three days later, has all the trappings of the morning after a keg party. In other words, a lot more fun.

The Chuckster’s persona — and at times, even his person — has almost grown large enough to be one of those floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and that’s actually the perfect image, full of hot air, constantly changing course with the wind and barely tethered to earthbound reality.

He says so many things, and it is our job to figure out which ones he really means. For in these ongoing best days of his life, it seems that everybody still wants to know the real Charles Barkley. Trouble is, the answer has always been a lot more complicated than the question.

During his playing days, was Barkley the obnoxious, overbearing sort who once charged toward the stands to spit on a boorish fan and wound up hitting an 8-year-old by accident? Or the sincerely apologetic type who responded by buying season tickets for the little girl and her family?

Was he the nit-picking critic that found fault in every single thing done wrong by his teammates? Or the selfless, ideal team players who charmed the socks off everybody in the locker room and at the same time lifted them to heights?

Is Barkley the fun-loving fellow who likes to joke and cajole his way through encounters with the media? Or the guy who would always tackle the tough issues of race and child-rearing with his whip of a tongue?

Remember the stir he created with a simple phrase: “I’m not a role model.”

How out of touch is that view today in an era of Tiger Woods, Marion Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius?

His was the first voice you normally heard upon entering the locker room and usually the last you heard on the way out. And truth be told, for all the the times his teammates would roll their eyes at some of the things he said, that role of spokesman/court jester was one they needed him to fill almost as much as the slot as one of the greatest power forwards of all time.

“I know a lot of people say a lot of things about Charles Barkley,” his former Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich once said. “But I’ve never seen a guy who loves this league more than he does. He follows the game. He loves the game so much.”

Who else but Barkley could sit there on the TNT set week after week on Thursday nights and be so outrageous? And who else but Barkley would constantly take the wildly popular show to new heights by allowing himself to be the constant butt of jokes.

There was the time Kenny Smith played the role of a bouncer controlling the velvet rope outside the “Champions Club” and kept taunting the ringless Barkley about the partiers inside.

“Hey Chuck, Zan Tabak’s in here,” Smith said laughing. “Look it’s Jack Haley, Chuck. Jack Haley!”

And, of course, there was Barkley paying his “I’ll kiss your ass” bet to Smith when the rookie Yao Ming hit the 20-point mark in a game.

Smith showed up the next week with a donkey in the studio, but only Barkley would have unthinkingly believed he had to actually pucker up to the back end of the four-legged ass.

He could have an MVP season and carry the Suns to the 1993 NBA Finals, grab a career-best 33 boards in single game (more than the entire opposing team) and, at an honest 6-foot-4 1/2, toil away to be the shortest player ever to lead the league in rebounding.

Mostly, Barkley could be himself.

Once, when pondering such a milestone birthday, he said: “I just want to be living the day after I turn 50.”

In that case, check in tomorrow when The Chuckster will still be living turribly large.

Howard Hopes PRP Helps Shoulder Heal

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Dwight Howard is the latest athlete to give PRP –platelet-rich plamsa — therapy a whirl.

The Los Angeles Lakers will play at Minnesota Friday night, but Howard left the team to return to Los Angeles. He will see Dr. Steven Yoon and undergo the PRP procedure on Saturday, the team announced, in hopes of speeding up the recovery of his injured right shoulder.

Howard will then fly to Detroit and rejoin the team, although his status for Sunday’s game against the Pistons is unclear.

PRP has been around for more than a decade, but mostly relegated to athletes or patients with exceedingly deep pockets. Athletes in all sports have undergone the procedure, from golf’s Tiger Woods, tennis’ Rafael Nadal, baseball’s Alex Rodriguez and football’s Troy Palamalu, among many others.

In 2011, Kobe Bryant flew to Germany to undergo what was called a derivative of the PRP procedure on his right knee. Last offseason it was reported that injured 76ers center Andrew Bynum would also undergo PRP in Germany. Brandon Roy, forced into retirement by chronic knee issues, had the procedure, and it helped him decide to attempt a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves, although he has been beset by multiple setbacks.

In Howard’s case, he is seeking to avoid surgery during the season to repair his sore right shoulder, the same injury that kept him out of three games in January. Howard had been playing through the pain until he re-aggravated the injury during the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s ugly loss at Phoenix.

So what is PRP?

The procedure utilizes platelets from the athletes’ own blood to rebuild a damaged tendon. It has been successful in relieving pain and jumpstarting the healing process. The patient’s blood is drawn and placed in a centrifuge for 15 minutes to separate out the platelets. The layer of platelet-rich plasma is then injected into the affected portion of the tendon with the guidance of an ultrasound machine.

There is a short recovery period so Howard might not be able to play in Sunday’s game. Obviously the hope is that it will alleviate Howard’s pain and help his shoulder heal enough so that he can continue to play throughout the season as the Lakers fight for playoff positioning.

L.A. had its modest three-game winning streak snapped at Phoenix on Wednesday night. At 20-26, the Lakers enter tonight’s game at Minnesota four games behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Although Howard has had an up-and-down season, he still remains the Lakers’ best hope to make a playoff push. He’s a defensive anchor on a team that struggled all season at that end. He’s second on the team in scoring behind Bryant at 16.5 ppg and he leads the team in rebounding at 11.9 rpg.

The Lakers lost all three games that Howard missed in January, losing to Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

While PRP is not a miracle cure by any stretch, it might be Howard’s best — and last chance — to salvage the season.

Call It A Comeback For Brandon Roy

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Brandon Roy‘s retirement from the NBA looks like it might only last one season.

The former Portland Trail Blazers All-Star is apparently headed back to the league, with a host of teams interested in acquiring his services for the 2012-013 season and beyond.

The Bulls, Mavericks, Pacers and Timberwolves are all, according to Yahoo! Sports, among the teams doing their due diligence to investigate Roy’s readiness for action. And they are not alone:

Roy’s recovery from chronic knee problems has been recently spurred by undergoing the platelet rich plasma therapy procedure that Lakers star Kobe Bryant popularized with NBA players, sources said. The blood spinning procedure gave profound relief to the knees of Bryant, Tracy McGrady and baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

The Golden State Warriors have also expressed strong interest with Roy. The Warriors’ general manager, Bob Myers, was Roy’s agent with the Wasserman Media Group.

After Portland doctors pushed Roy to stop playing in 2011, the Blazers used the league’s new amnesty provision to pay him the remaining $63 million on his contract and made Roy a free agent. He’s been working out for several months and planning a return.


Arenas The Answer For Lakers?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Los Angeles Lakers’ search for a spark this season has led them to an interesting crossroads. Do they explore the depths of the trade market and risk giving up yet another valuable asset (remember the Lamar Odom deal) or do they take a chance on adding Gilbert Arenas to the mix in the hopes that he can rekindle some of his old magic in purple and gold?

They’ve already worked Arenas out, according to Dave McMenamin of The Lakers are clearly in need of something more than they have on the current roster to get them cranked up again. But Arenas?

He’s prepared himself for the possibility, according to the report:

Arenas, who turned 30 last month, looked “slimmed down” and “explosive,” according to a source with knowledge of the workout, but no signing is necessarily imminent as the guard flew back to his home in Orlando, Fla., from Los Angeles on Sunday night.


Legends Weigh In


Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — What would you do at 25 and seemingly at the top of your game?

Would you want to be the man and lead your team to a title? Or would the title itself be most important, no matter how you go it?

LeBron James had a decision to make and he chose the latter,  joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the prime of his career to chase his first title.

League elders and legends weighed in on the decisions made by James and other members of the celebrated free agent class of 2010, and it’s clear they would have handled things differently.

NBA TV’s Chris Webber:

“I’m never mentioning him and (Michael) Jordan in the same sentence ever again. There is no more discussion; Kobe (Bryant) is the last heir to Jordan. I think LeBron is starting a new era of basketball that is not led by a dominate two guard. Magic (Johnson) and Michael Cooper, Magic and Byron Scott, it’s not that type of thing. I mean who would be MVP if they (LeBron James and Dwyane Wade) both average 18 points?”

NBA on TNT analyst Reggie Miller:

“I’m on both sides of the fence here. You are speaking to a guy that spent 18 years for one organization. I would have loved to see LeBron James stay in a small market. Not everyone can play for a New York (Knicks), Chicago (Bulls) or Miami (Heat). When you have a true superstar playing for a small market, it means so much. When you play in a small market, fans live and die by everything you do.  To me, him going down to Miami and jumping on the bandwagon of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that’s great, that is going to be good basketball to see. But personally I would love to have seen him win a championship and stay in Cleveland.”

… “He is the best player in the league, can we put him now in the same category of Michael Jordan, who never left Chicago, Larry Bird, who never left Boston or Magic Johnson who has four or five rings in the same breath – no. If he would have stayed in Cleveland and won one championship built around him we would have put him on Mt. Rushmore. It’s great, I get it. I can’t wait to call games in Miami and watch these three play. But now you are going into a situation where Dwyane Wade already has one championship. He is the Derek Jeter down there. LeBron is the Alex Rodriguez. It is still Dwyane’s team. Between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade one of those guys has to sacrifice and to me it will have to be LeBron James because it is Dwyane Wade’s team.”

NBA on TNT Analyst Charles Barkley:

“The Miami Heat are in a great situation right now, they have three great players. I was disappointed,  I wanted Lebron to stay in Cleveland. I don’t blame the guy but I think it will be a lot more important and significant to win a championship in Cleveland then it would be in Miami (if he wins it.)”

… “In fairness, if I was 25 I would try to win it by myself. I would make sure that I was the guy on the team. We just started giving Kobe Bryant credit the last two years. That was that stigma that he couldn’t win it without Shaquille O’Neal and you see we have elevated him because he has won the last two without him. LeBron (James) will never be the guy. I wish he would have tried to win it by himself as ‘the guy’.”

NBA TV analyst Kevin McHale:

“It was too much. It ends up being an hour special and it just seemed to drag on. It had the feel of a reality show to me. I understand it is a big decision and sports are big in the United Sates but it seemed to go on and on. I think they had a plan to make it big and fun and instead it was big and cumbersome. LeBron didn’t look very comfortable making that decision tonight.”

… “It surprised me a little bit. I just thought he was going to Chicago (Bulls) with (Carlos) Boozer, Derrick Rose, (Joakim) Noah; I kind of thought that would be a place for him. Then again, I thought he was going to stay in Cleveland. I thought it was going to be hard for him to leave.”