To hear NBA Commissioner David Stern or commissioner in waiting Adam Silver tell it, the NBA has been working on setting up Human Growth Hormone (HGH) testing and is close, it’s just waiting for the players union to agree. There was even a report last March saying it could be in place for this coming season.
Um, not so much.
First came some suggestion new union president Chris Paul wanted to fight the league over the tests (which require the drawing of a player’s blood). Now comes a report from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the league and union are nowhere close to an agreement on testing.
Officials from the league office and National Basketball Players Association met earlier this month in New York to continue discussions on the matter, but a person familiar with the talks told CBSSports.com, “Nothing is anywhere near being agreed to.” The negotiations are ongoing, but the gap may be too wide to close in time for a policy to be in place in time for the start of the regular season.
The talks are stalled, and not where the NFL ones are stalled either. The NFL and its players’ union reached a tentative deal, it’s the details of implementation that have stalled things out for football.
For the NBA, the issue is not the biological passport idea but even how to get there.
Among the matters at issue is the proper establishment of baseline levels, the reliability of blood screening for HGH and disciplinary procedures, league sources said.
The NBA has largely been able to stay out of the PED scandals; while a couple players have gotten nailed (Hedo Turkoglu most recently) it’s been around the fringes. But the idea that an NBA player wouldn’t benefit from a substance that would help him recover more quickly between workouts — or facing four games in five nights — is ludicrous. And with the millions of dollars on the line to suggest human nature wouldn’t push some players to use the substance is naïve.
I don’t think PED use in the NBA is widespread, but I don’t wear David Stern’s rose-colored glasses either. The only way to know for sure is testing.
But we seem a long way off from that.
Paul Westphal, the Hall of Fame guard who played at the peak of his career with the Phoenix Suns (and earlier won a championship with the Boston Celtics) has been diagnosed with brain cancer.
Longtime sportswriter Mike Lupica made the announcement.
Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive and difficult form of cancer to treat.
Westphal was born and raised in the South Bay area of greater Los Angeles and went on to play his college ball at USC. He was the No. 10 pick of the Boston Celtics in the 1972 NBA Draft and went on to play three seasons with the Celtics, winning a title with them in 1974.
After that he went on to Phoenix, where he was an All-Star player and was named to the All-NBA team four times. Westphal also played for the Knicks and Sonics during his career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame last September.
After playing he became a coach, spending at least part of seven seasons as the Suns head coach, plus he coached the Kings for three seasons.
One of the best-liked people in NBA circles, there are a lot of people in Westphal’s corner today and going forward.
“It’s great to see Book playing well and Phoenix playing well, but get my man out of Phoenix It’s not good for him, it’s not good for his career. Sorry Chuck, but they’ve gotta get Book out of Phoenix. I need my man to go somewhere that he can play great basketball all of the time and win, because he’s that kind of player.”
That was the Warriors’ always outspoken Draymond Green on Inside the NBA on TNT Thursday, talking about the play of Devin Booker and the fast start of the Suns in the bubble.
The second he said it, Ernie Johnson asked, “Are you tampering?” Green said, “maybe.”
The NBA said yes and has fined Green $50,000 for “violating the league’s anti-tampering rule.”
In past years the NBA has mostly ignored player-to-player tampering, but after complaints from owners last season the league is cracking down on — at the very least — public tampering by players. Going on a popular national show to say Booker should leave Phoenix qualifies.
Just a reminder for fans of a team desperate for a star and suddenly looking at Phoenix, Booker has four years left (after this one) on his max contract extension. The Suns are building around him and Deandre Ayton — and right now it looks like it’s working (coach Monty Williams should get a lot of credit for that). The Suns aren’t looking to trade, Booker isn’t looking to leave (and has no leverage anyway), and the Suns seem to be building something real down in the Valley of the Sun.
The Bucks’ have one of the best defenses in NBA history, allowing 7.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than league average. The Mavericks have the highest offensive rating (116.5) in league history.
Something had to give.
And it was Luka Doncic – to teammate after teammate after teammate.
Doncic had 36 points, 19 assists and 14 rebounds in Dallas’ 136-132 overtime win over Milwaukee yesterday. He was in complete control as a scorer and passer, showing just how far he has come.
The Bucks already secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But they played hard, forcing overtime. Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like the MVP with 34 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.
Doncic was just better.
Other than waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to subside – a possibility – the NBA faces MAJOR challenges next season.
The bubble is working for finishing this season. But that’s with just 22 teams rather than the full 30. And this is just for a few months, not a full season. Players are already bristling about how long they’re separated from their families.
Yet, what’s the alternative to a bubble? It looks like the only safe way to play professional sports.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated
We’re a ways off from next season, but league sources have told me that the NBA is looking at options that include creating regional bubbles, should the COVID-19 pandemic still prevent normal business in the fall. Teams would report to a bubble for short stints—around a month—which would be followed by 1-2 weeks off.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Orlando is a consideration, and Las Vegas — a finalist for this summer’s restart — would reemerge as a possible site too, sources said.
This is an interesting possibility.
Smaller bubbles would reduce the odds of a coronavirus outbreak that undermines the whole league. But what happens if one bubble has coronavirus issues? Teams’ schedules could get significantly unbalanced quickly.
The shorter bubble lengths would allow players to spend time with family more frequently. But how many players would contract coronavirus while between bubbles? Look how many players got coronavirus during this last layoff.
There are no easy solutions amid this pandemic. This is one of many imperfect ideas that should at least be considered.