Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Magic forward Rashard Lewis(notes) (aka Ice-O) tested positive for an elevated testosterone level and was suspended Thursday for 10 games. Here's what they're saying out in the ether about the shocking news ...

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: "Are you telling me that in today's high-tech world of chemical competition when Lewis could have easily purchased the Lamborghini of performance-enhancing drugs, he chose a cheap, obsolete 1985 Chevette instead? Sorry, but I don't think so. Lewis, in my opinion, is guilty of stupidity more than chicanery. And, frankly, it's hard to decide which indiscretion is worse. Seriously, why would any multi-millionaire athlete in a multi-billion-dollar league put any supplement into his body that has not been inspected and approved by the army of trainers and medical personnel NBA players have at their disposal? 'I've been taking nutritional supplements and vitamins my entire career,' Lewis said, 'but now I've learned a valuable lesson. Before you put anything into your body, make sure to check with trained experts' That's a very good piece of advice from Lewis. But I have an even better piece of advice for Lewis. If you're an NBA power forward and you're going to get busted for performance-enhancing drugs, you absolutely have to average more than 5.7 rebounds a game."

Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: "Rashard Lewis will be suspended for ten games to start the season, which will cost him slightly more than $1.6 million in salary. This must be one of the most expensive drug tests in history. But that's not all. The Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for a first positive test for performance enhancing drugs (SPEDS or 'Steroids or Performance Enhancing Drugs' in NBA parlance) to be accompanied by a ten-game suspension and treatment in the league's SPED program. (A second failed test means a 25-game suspension, a third a year suspension, and a fourth banishment from the league.) I'm curious to know what that program entails. Will Lewis endure the treatment program if we believe he only took this supplement by accident? And if we don't believe him ... what does that say? Are the Sixers going to want a do-over after Lewis killed them in Game 6 of last year's playoffs? How about the Celtics (Lewis was tremendous in Game 3) or Cavaliers (he was nine of 13 from the floor as the Magic stole game 1)?"

Tim Povtak, NBA FanHouse: "Magic general manager Otis Smith said Thursday that he was not shocked when a league official notified him this week that Rashard Lewis was being suspended [...] 'I live in the real world. Very few things shock me. I was a little taken aback, but I'm not going to go nuts over it,'' Smith told FanHouse after the league announced the suspension. 'I've been around the league for 25-plus years, and I still don't know everything there is to know about all the banned substances.' [...] Smith talked to Lewis both late Wednesday and early Thursday before the league made the announcement. 'I do not think he was taking it as a performance enhancer, trying to get bigger, stronger, faster, or anything like that,'' Smith said. 'We spend a lot of time trying to educate our guys on this stuff, but we have to do more. I still think the team, the players' union, the league, has to do more to let these guys know what they can and can't take.'"

Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel: "Even before this suspension was announced, Van Gundy said he would consider starting free-agent signee Brandon Bass(notes) at power forward and moving Lewis to the starting small-forward spot. Now, with Lewis out, the Magic almost certainly will start Bass at the 4 and either Mickael Pietrus(notes) or Matt Barnes(notes) at the 3. That means the Magic could have as many as three players — Bass, Barnes and shooting guard Vince Carter(notes) — in the starting lineup on opening night who weren't a part of the team that reached the NBA Finals. [...] The Magic's early season schedule is relatively soft. Seven of the first 10 games are against teams that posted losing records last season: New Jersey (two games), Detroit (two games), Toronto, Oklahoma City and Charlotte. Half of the first 10 games are home games."

Bucks Diary: "There's something that doesn't add up about Rashard Lewis' 'dog ate my homework' explanation for the elevated levels of testosterone in his blood, especially the part where he claims it was caused by the grocery store substance DHEA. First of all, lets be clear. The NBA's press release doesn't say Rashard Lewis tested positive for DHEA ... that's the spin coming out of the Rashard Lewis camp. According to the NBA's press release, Lewis tested positive for 'elevated levels of testosterone.' You'd never know that reading this story. (Unless you're reading carefully, you'd likely conclude Lewis tested positive for DHEA, or that there was no distinction between DHEA and testosterone.) What am I getting at? I smell spin control and a 'Gee Barney, it was just an honest mistake' attempt at a coverup by the Lewis camp, and every news outlet is just lapping it up and it annoys the hell out of me."

Sports On My Mind: "DHEA???! D-H-E-A? I take DHEA! Seriously, I do. And it’s good stuff, too. And I used to be able to get it almost anywhere. The DEA then found out it actually works and can help men feel better and said, 'Oh no! We cannot have that. The citizenry able to feel good on the cheap without Big Pharma involved! Banned !! DHEA is hereby BANNED!!!' The NBA and any other league that bans DHEA needs to get a grip."

Dime: "Just like the Alex Rodriguez case, however, you have to wonder why Rashard would even risk taking a PED. (If this was only a recent thing.) He already signed his monster contract, he already had All-Star status, and hasn’t really had significant injury issues during his career. Then again, with that monster contract comes monster expectations and monster pressure to perform ..."

Dan Shanoff, The Sporting Blog: "Let's remember something critical about PEDs — they are not about getting jacked; more than anything, they are about rapidly improving muscular recovery time. For an NBA player, that isn't an insubstantial thing. Is PED use in the NBA more widespread than people know? Probably. All I know is that MLB continues to get shellacked for this, while the NFL is a league fueled by PEDs — and fan/media apathy about it. (And you know what? The NFL fans are right; I just wish they would apply it to baseball, too.)"

Shoals, The Baseline: "Lewis himself has released a statement saying, more or less, 'Oops.' You'll recall that Darius Miles(notes) was suspended at the beginning of this season for phentermine, an appetite suppressant that's banned; the year before, model citizen Lindsey Hunter(notes) also missed games after testing positive for phentermine, which he claimed to have taken by accident (his wife was on a diet). I'm having trouble recalling any other NBA player being disciplined for any other PED or tell-tale hormone levels. But Lewis isn't particularly known his endless stamina or colossal physique. In other words, I'd hardly see this as the first crack in a great wall of silence and mystery, or a reason to fire up the witch-hunt soundtrack. Maybe if it had been [insert physical freak or ball of energy here], there would be reason to whisper. Rashard Lewis? There's really nothing there to hang a crusade on."

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