When we last saw Rashard Lewis, he was busy disappearing in the NBA Finals, shooting a woeful 28% in Orlando’s final two losses to the Lakers. The latest news involving Lewis will be his disappearance from the Orlando bench for 10 games for violating the NBA’s Anti-Drug Program.
While drug suspensions aren’t common in the Association, they aren’t exactly anomalies. What is surprising is that Lewis’ suspension stems from a positive test for elevated testosterone level. Lewis claims that he unknowingly was taking a banned substance in some nutritional supplements beginning at the end of last season. He issued this statement:
Since Lewis hasn’t had any real problems up to this point in his career, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he wasn’t trying to cheat. But this does raise a few questions. It took at least three months to find out Lewis was on something. How can we be sure no one else is manipulating the system? Should basketball players be more heavily tested for such substances? Why do players feel the need to find over-the-counter drugs to help them out when they have training staffs dedicated to making sure players are in top physical condition?
David Stern and Co. will undoubtedly spend a bit of time in the near future trying to find the right answers to these questions because they will be asked. It’s possible that Congress, which seems to spend an increasing amount of time worrying about sports matters, might invite Stern back to D.C. to have a chat about what Stern previously said wasn’t a problem in his league.
Until then, the Magic will take only a small step back in their attempts to repeat as Eastern Conference champs. While they’d probably like to have those extra ten games to figure out how to integrate the old (Lewis, Dwight Howard) with the new (Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Brandon Bass) and the rehabilitated (Jameer Nelson), it will be mid- November when Lewis is eligible to return and he won’t have missed much. The Magic will play only three of last season’s playoff teams in that stretch, but only the November 11 matchup with the Cavaliers figures to have any real influence later in the season.