Derrick Rose(notes) says that performance enhancing drugs are a huge problem in the NBA, in a snippet that made the pages of ESPN the Magazine a few weeks ago, and the reaction to his comment seems to have hit a fever pitch.
And while we don't question Rose's knowledge of the inner-workings of this league, and what he's seen versus what we've observed and learned from afar, this does appear to be much ado about nothing. I'm hardly the NBA's favorite scribe these days, but it should be pointed out that this league has had strict testing for both drugs and supplements for decades, with ever-evolving guidelines, and that those who have been caught in the crosshairs with these sorts of things have been quickly sent to the sidelines. The league tests, and the few who use get caught.
In one of those quickie Q and A's ESPN Mag likes to run every-however-often-they-publish, Rose was asked to rate the NBA's problem with PEDs on a scale from one to ten. He classified it as a "seven," and then dropped this:
"It's huge and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person."
What matters here is context, and you understanding that I'm not trying to argue away on behalf of Rose and/or the NBA.
Is "it" huge, or would the idea of PEDs being legally dumped into the NBA's bloodstream be huge? Was this question offered to Derrick as an idea, or as his take on what he knows about the league? Does he really think that the NBA doesn't have a level playing field because of these drugs and/or supplements? Or was he responding to a hypothetical that would come as a result of this uneven scope?
So far, only middling types like Don MacLean, O.J. Mayo(notes), and Rashard Lewis(notes) have been suspended because of testing positive for this stuff. Others have been banished due to other chemical additives (be they recreational or otherwise), and if you want to get into some argument that allows for the idea that the NBA would knowingly gloss over some superstar who had tested positive so as not to keep him away from the national television cameras, then you're going to have to go to some message board for that.
Because it takes two to tango, and several to test and then react, and if that were actually the case with [name your All-Star], then some doctor or lab assistant would have a million-dollar exclusive on their hands. Unless you think the NBA, which regulates and labels headbands, would pay off a doctor or lab assistant. And then … wait, why am I even listening to you?
Rose denied through a team spokesman on Sunday that he even made the comments, and that'll be more than enough to fuel the fire, because nothing satiates a conspiracy theorist more than an outright denial spun through the professional hands of a team or league employee.
Common sense, here, everyone. I'm on nobody's payroll save for Yahoo!'s, and I'm not out to save "my boy." Give it a moment's thought before prattling on.
Steve Aschburner, as he usually does, clarifies my thoughts in a more articulate fashion, while adding a nugget taken from the Chicago Tribune:
And the possibility loomed large that what Rose was asked, or thought he was asked, different significantly than what showed up on the final magazine page. That was the view of a Bull spokesman, who denied the quote on Rose's behalf that he was alleging a current, ongoing problem in the NBA.
The Chicago Tribune also reported:
One person close to Rose said the question was posed to him as "How big of a problem would it be if steroid use were rampant in the NBA?"
Fitting answers to questions reconfigured and slanted later happens sometimes in print journalism. It's a shoddy practice, mostly undone these days by video or audio recordings of most interviews. But without pictures or sound of this Q&A exchange between Rose and the reporter, it's hard to know if what was asked —- and what was answered -— were precisely as portrayed in the one-page, graphics-heavy feature.
Your read, so to speak, as to what happens from here.