Someone on your favorite team smokes marijuana. That’s simply based on the probabilities and what we know of NBA life. Regardless of how you, in particular, feel about the sweet stuff, that’s simply the likeliest scenario. Maybe it’s a bench scrub, maybe it’s a superstar. But what we know of marijuana use in the NBA is that it is rampant in isolated situations if not habitual, and fairly common in the least.
So when Brandon Rush was suspended five games this week for what is being discussed as being busted for marijuana in a drug test, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone or caused much outrage. It’s unfortunate, but some counseling could probably settle things down and throwing stones on this issue is dangerous inside such a glass house.
But Indiana isn’t your normal place. Combining a prevalent conservative, near-Midwestern attitude with a history of being burned by players with bad behavior, Indiana is apparently ready to wipe its hands of Rush, along with domestic abusive rookie Lance Stephenson. Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star writes that the Pacers should immediately look to trade Rush. It is not the drug use that bothers Kravitz, it’s the use during the season, along with his inconsistency. It’s a fair point from Kravitz, especially given everything Pacers fans have had to deal with this decade.
Except that for all his inconsistency, Rush has traded in the right direction, getting better with every passing month. For a player still young at 25, Rush has a strong possibility of developing into a valuable player. His drug use is upsetting, and the reaction is understandable after the turmoil of the team built in the early 2000’s by Indiana. But giving up on a player for so common a violation is short-sighted and risks surrendering a talented young player for, ahem, James Posey and Dahntay Jones (Paul George is a huge question mark, especially given his Summer League performance) is also risky. There’s no question that Rush needs correction for this issue.
But punishing him for the crimes of a team blown up five years ago is a bit extreme in this glass house.