It's easy to find an incentive for NBA players to dabble in performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). In fact, a perfect case study is on the Indiana Pacers roster right now.
Gregg Doyle raises the point that no matter how many NBA writers or league and team officials minimize the use of PEDs in the NBA while looking to give Rashard Lewis the benefit of the doubt, there is every reason to think that PEDs are commonly used in the NBA just as they are in nearly every other sporting endeavor these days.
I happen to agree with Doyle just because it's so easy to understand the motivation for certain NBA players to look for an advantage.
In fact, prior to the Lewis suspension, when I heard reports of Josh McRoberts working his way into better shape and adding 15-20 pounds of muscle, my initial thought was: If you want an incentive for using PEDs, this is the case.
First, let me state that I'm not accusing Josh McRoberts of using PEDs and in fact I've heard him in interviews joke about it, so until proven otherwise I believe him. This is about his situation, and I only used his name because if I didn't and then explained the scenario it would be obvious which player I was talking about and then some may think I know more than I'm saying. I don't know more and I don't think McRoberts supplemented his hard work this summer with PEDs. OK?
As for the scenario, Mac's situation isn't perfect because he's still too young to feel the desperation of a last gasp effort to keep his NBA career alive. Still, Mac went into the summer without a contract and although it seemed like signing with a team (likely the Pacers) wouldn't be a problem, earning a chance to play would still be a struggle.
Mac needed to improve some offensively, but more importantly he needed more bulk to help him battle on the boards and in the paint on defense against bigger NBA frontcourt players. Plus, he had to be ready to play whenever and whereever the Pacers wanted him to play.
Unfortunately an ankle sprain subverted his summer wokout plans, but even in the limited time we saw him in Orlando, he appeared to be an improved player with the confidence to raise his game. The hard work was paying off.
There are a ton of fringe NBA players trying to stick in the league, trying to get a better contract, trying to get more playing time. If someone talks them into a PED they think they can get away with using, doesn't it seem obvious that a solid percentage of those players would take the risk? When you combine the being able to play basketball at the highest level along with the financial freedom an NBA career can produce, some may not consider a PED boost a risk but rather a given.
Then when you consider that enough is never enough, it easy to see how the incentive for PEDs escalates. You make a roster but now you want to start. You start but now you want to be a first or second option. You're a team leader but now you want to be an All-Star.
PEDs in basketball seem like a different beast to me, though. Yes, strength is an advantage but not like baseball or football. To me, the main advantage is in recovery rate which allows players to keep working and playing at a high level. In that context, the PEDs are closer to Advil than steroids in my mind, but at least the NBA has a testing program (despite the holes Doyle mentions) that has some teeth. Rashard Lewis is paying a price for his positive test as is his team with the suspension.
So, now the PED spotlight will be on the NBA as a story to follow. Tests will be monitored more closely and surely, some reporters will try to dig into the NBA workout culture for more answers. I just wonder if PED-numb fans will even care.
Here are a few other links of interest today:
Pacers among The Dreamers
David Aldridge put up an offseason ranking of all NBA teams this past weekend and included the Pacers in The Dreamers category.
Griffin, Hansbrough resting summer injuries
Brian Mahoney reporrts from the NBA's rookie photo shoot about Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansbrough resting injuries in preparation for their first NBA season.
Granger involved in charity game in Brazil
According to this report, Danny Granger was in Brazil to support a charity game for Leandro Barbosa and Anderson Varejao. No word on DG actually playing, though.