Tag Archives: nba

Drugs in Sports

tim lincecum pot let timmy smoke

The US Department of Education states: “Athletes are at risk of abusing alcohol and other drugs (AOD), including steroids, diet aids, ephedrine, marijuana, and psychedelic drugs.” To a person who has never played organized sports in a highly competitive environment, the statement above may seem counterintuitive. Athletes that are playing for money, (earning scholarships/paychecks) are risking their livelihood’s by messing around with drugs.

To name a few in the past couple weeks: Tyrann Mathieu, LSU defensive back was kicked off the team for once again violating team rules (*cough* failed drug-test). In the Olympics, American judo fighter Nick Delpopolo was kicked out of the games for screening positive for THC in a drug test. For NASCAR fans, there’s A.J. Allmendinger. Last week a world-class driver, this week a ‘user of amphetimines’ who was just released from his team, Penske Racing. Although he claims he unknowingly consumed THC in an edible, Delpopolo is going to lose sponsorship money. Tyrann Mathieu will likely lose draft position, a scholarship, and a chance to play for an SEC contender.

Drugs can wreck havoc on an athlete’s career, and it is not only recreational drugs that can do so; performance enhancers can as well. Barry Bonds was blacklisted from the MLB, and will never be voted into the Hall of Fame.

With so much to lose, the question becomes why.

Why are athletes prone to drug abuse?

Monotony- Hours of practice, films, and games can get boring. Joints or a pill after practice for some athletes can be the perfect way to let the mind go and relieve physical or mental stress. There is the case of Doc Ellis, where he threw a no-hitter on LSD in June 1970. Elilis’ main reason for dropping acid? He wasn’t pitching the next day, or so he thought.

Performance enhancement (street drugs)- We aren’t only talking about actual performance enhancers here (‘roids, HGH), we are talking about the college athlete who pops an Adderol once a week and catches up on the work he/she missed, or the guy who smokes a blunt 45 min before the game because it ‘makes me play better’. One of my favorite cases is Chris Herren, former Fresno State star and NBA player for the Nuggets and Celtics. Ten years ago, even strung out, Herren would have stellar performances. In the ESPN documentary Unguarded, Herren describes standing outside of the Boston Garden 5 minutes before tip-off in a game he is starting. It is raining outside and he is wearing his Celtics sweats, waiting to meet with his Oxycontin dealer. Herren got his fix, played well that game, won, and was on the cover of the Boston Globe the next morning.

Another case in this section is Ricky Williams. Some may say he needed to get clean and abide by the NFL’s policies since he was such a talent. Others may say he should have been left alone, and the NFL made it a point to try and catch him for something as minor as marijuana. Whether it is right or wrong, drug use did derail the career’s of both of the above athletes.

Performance enhancement (performance drugs)- All through your childhood and teenage years you train 30-40-50 hours a week at your sport only to hit a wall. You find yourself almost world class, but you can’t creep into that 99th or 100th percentile in size or skill. Jonathan Vaugthers, a former pro cyclist and chief executive of Slipstrem Sports, supports a 1-2% theory. Many have made it so far only to fall short, but that can all go away with doping. Another theory is the ‘level-playing field’. An athlete knows (or thinks he/she knows) the rest of the competition is doing it, so they have to do it as well.

Low consequences- Athletes that perform well are easily forgiven. That is just fact. Herren (who got 10+ chances), Hamilton, Phelps, Roethlisberger; the list can go on and on. Athletes that know they can ball may just not give a crap when it comes to off the field issues such as drugs. They also have the money and the connections to basically do whatever they want compared to the average person.

According to some, drugs in sports aren’t a problem in certain cases. In a recent nytimes.com debate on Should Doping Be Allowed, it is suggested if a drug doesn’t pose significant health risk, then it should not be banned. Another argues that drugs in sports are okay because of the tedious schedules and workouts that pro athletes face. There are also 3 columnists whom strictly support clean competition.

For fans that can’t stand drug use in their sport, I would suggest pressing for two fundamental changes: less public forgiveness for drug-related incidents and increased testing. For fans that enjoy it, I’d suggest stressing to others proper usage of drugs taken as prescribed by a doctor (medical marijuana, TRT, etc.) should be okay in sports.

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Predictions: Busts and Badasses

ryan kalil makes bold superbowl prediction carolina panthers
As many of you Ninjas may have already seen, Panthers Center Ryan Kalil took out an ad in today’s Charlotte Observer. In this full page ad, Kalil guaranteed Panthers fans a Lombardi Trophy this season. There have been many bold predictions throughout the history of sports, and it remains to be seen where Kalil’s Superbowl prediction will rank. Often times, a prediction will fall flat on it’s face. In some cases though, athletes or coaches can back up a bold prediction with acts of badassery.

The Best:

5. Rasheed Wallace, Detroit Pistons, 2004 Easteren Conference Finals

The prediction: “We will win game 2.”
Success: ‘Sheed had enough power within the locker room to make the prediction work. His teammates backed him up and they went on to beat the Lakers in the NBA finals.

4. Plaxico Burress, New York Giants, 2007 Super Bowl

The prediction: Burress predicted that his 10-6 Giants will win 23-17.
Success: Plaxico caught the game winner in the Super Bowl XLII, helping his team along to a 17-14 victory.

3. Jim Fassel, New York Giants, 2000, Week 12

The prediction: “I am raising the stakes right now. If this is a poker game, I am shoving my chips right in the middle of the table…..Anybody who wants out, can get out. This team is going to the playoffs. Okay? This team is going to the playoffs.”

Success: The Giants, 7-4 at the time of the prediction, ended up making it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the Ravens.

2. Mark Messier, New York Rangers, 1994 Stanley Cup Finals

The prediction: Messier promised that his Rangers would beat the New Jersey Devils in game 6. The Rangers were behind 3-2.
Success: This was an intentional move to motivate his team. Messier answered on the first question he was asked the day before game 6, that they were going to win the game. Most importantly, Messier delivered on his prediction with a hat trick. The Rangers won their first title in 54 years, and Messier did this all before predictions were in style.

1. Joe Namath, New York Jets, 1967 Super Bowl

The prediction: “The Guarantee” as many call it, was straight to the point and simple. Joe Namath went down in history when he guaranteed his Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
Success: After a victory over the heavily favored Colts, Namath became an instant celebrity, and some speculate that this game and prediction is what brought the AFL and NFL together.

We can’t forget Babe Ruth calling his shot in the list above. Badass predictions are cool, but let’s be honest, we all enjoy a good bust.

The Worst:

5. Vince Young, Philadelphia Eagles, 2011 Preseason

The prediction: Vince Young gave his Eagles a ‘dream team’ label after the the Eagles signed a few highly touted free agents and implemented a new defensive scheme.
Failure: After a 1-3 start, Quarterback Mike Vick explained, “I think the “Dream Team” — that word is dead now. You can’t talk “Dream Team” anymore. Maybe it put pressure on some players, maybe it didn’t.”

4. Sam Cassel, Milwaukee Bucks, April 17th 2002

The prediction: PG Sam Cassel promised that his Bucks would would be the Pistons on the night of April 17th.
Failure: The Bucks did not show up that night, losing by 34. Horrid.

3. Rex Ryan, New York Jets, 2011 Preseason

The prediction: Rex Ryan predicted for the third straight year that his Jets would win the Super Bowl.
Failure: I understand establishing to your team that the Super Bowl is the clear goal at the beginning of the season, but failing on his prediction three years in a row just makes Rex look like a clown.

2. Lon Kruger, Atlanta Hawks, 2002 Preseason

The prediction: The Hawks head coach promised season ticket holders a $125 refund if the Hawks failed to make the playoffs.
Failure: Although Kruger was excited about the team’s attainment of Glenn Robinson, there is no excuse for publicly announcing a refund of any sort. His promise, along with a terrible record, lead to his termination midway through the season.

1. Ryan Leaf, San Diego Chargers, 1998 NFL Draft

The prediction: More like a quote… “I’m looking forward to a 15-year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl and a parade through downtown San Diego.”
Failure: With a career passer rating around 50, many consider Leaf the biggest bust in NFL history. The sheer boldness of his statement gives Leaf the top spot in this Ninja’s worst predictions list.

To follow a current prediction in progress, refer to Matt Kemp who mentioned the possibility of a 50-50 season.

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Dream Team: ’92 vs. ’12

Editor note: Take this article with some imagination. This is game that will never happen. Check our match-ups and score predication and see if you agree!

Since the end of the NBA season, building anticipation, along with the formation of a superstar-filled Team USA Basketball roster, has lead to numerous arguments regarding whether or not this year’s Olympic team could beat the Dream Team of 1992. Both of these teams are star studded and full of talent, the Dream Team with 11/12 hall of famers, and three players who most would put in their top 5, Jordan, Magic, and Bird. This year’s dream team isn’t lacking talent either, Bryant, Durant, and James are most likely each hall of famers in their own right, and each may end up as popular choices in top 5 discussions upon retirement. One of the most exciting aspects of this game would be the battle waged between the pair of “Big 3s”.

The Dream Team takes this game. The main keys are their superior technique, size, and especially, their low post play. The ‘12 team has no star center, and since they are smaller ( Avg: 78.75 in, 220.5 lbs to the Dream Team’s 80.1 in, 223 lbs) they will be turned into a perimeter team. The undersized ‘12 team forced to the perimeter, has Kobe in his decline, and LeBron still lacking at his 3-point shot. Coach K would have to turn to other options such as Durant and Carmelo to do most of the scoring.

The ’92 team has a 6’9, versatile passer in Magic Johnson. Even with his best years behind him, Magic was still as deadly a passer as ever, and could still play good defense. Chris Paul and Deron Williams are great athletes, but how could they deal with Magic’s superior size and strength? Size would be a lot for the ‘12 team to deal with at pretty much every position on the floor.

There are two likely scenarios, and either way it would not be promising for the ‘12 team.

Coach K could sit Tyson Chandler, and have their best defender, James, play the 5, which he has done before and done well. However, this is almost laughable as it would leave Karl Malone to offensively attack Andre Iguodala or Kevin Love. I apologize to Love or Iguodala fans, but Karl Malone at this time is still “the Mailman” and neither one of those guys possesses anything in their defensive arsenal that gives me any reason to believe that they could stop him.

Coach K could simply leave LeBron at the 4 and Melo at the 3. This leaves Tyson Chandler to play the 5. At the 5, he would be covering two of the greatest centers of all time, and they are both in their prime. The match-up between the tandem of Patrick Ewing and David Robinson vs. Tyson Chandler is extremely unbalanced. Ewing was an 11 time all-star and was named to the Greatest 50 Players of All Time. David “The Admiral” Robinson is a man who once scored 71 points in a game, one of only four ever to record a quadruple-double in the NBA, and he was named to the NBA all-defensive team 8 times. This is all against Tyson Chandler…you make up your mind on that one.

If you still are not sold that the ‘92 team would win, let me remind you about Michael Jordan. The ‘92 team is captained by the greatest champion/winner/clutch performer of all time, and the person who many would rank as the #1 basketball player to ever live. It may not seem so on the surface, but MJ presents match-up problems all over the place against the ‘12 team. Two options to guard him, a slowly declining Bryant or an inexperienced Durant, would likely take turns watching him score. Put LeBron on him, and that would free up big men such as Malone way too much.

Jordan in ’92 was literally at his peak, and had just won an NBA championship. Even if this game ended up being close and competitive, do you really think “his airness” himself, the man who had more determination and will to win than any player in NBA history, would let his team lose in a win or go home situation? Jordan, a 9 time first team all-defensive selection and a prolific scorer, would rise to the occasion. He would rise up like in 1993 when he averaged 43 ppg in the Finals. Jordan wouldn’t let this team lose, I can almost guarantee it.

Prediction : ’92 Dream Team wins by 8

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