by Kent Sterling
Suspending a 24-year-old kid for getting high three times is crazy, but somehow the NBA thinks it’s just. That this enforcement of a positive test takes place during the offseason exponentially multiplies the stupidity.
Brandon Rush of the Indiana Pacers will serve a five-game suspension at the beginning of the upcoming season because of his third positive test for marijuana use, and it just doesn’t make sense.
It’s understandable that leagues would want to test for illegal or banned substances, and while weed is certainly not healthy, they have no business testing for a recreational drug that enhances performance only in the areas of listening to Phish and late night eating.
The NBA needs to get off its high horse and function again as a sports league rather than a police agency.
Granted, given the obviously harsh escalating penalties for getting stoned, it’s incredibly short-sighting to partake as Rush has prior to three tests.
NBA players take four unannounced drug tests per year, and with each positive test the penalty grows. After the first, the player enters a marijuana program of unclear duration or content. After the second, a trip to the program (which could be online or in another form) and a $25K rip. Third time – five-day suspension and another dose of the same program that failed twice before. Each subsequent violation earns an additional five days added on to the previous one, and yet another dose of the anti-dope message that has yet to do the player any good at all.
The teams are not told about any positive tests until a suspension is due. Of course not. Why would the employer need to know there might be a problem with the employee? No, just give the kid the password to whatever minimally effective say no to pot webinar the NBA has contracted with and pat yourselves on the back for a job barely done.
The ban on pot was enacted because the barely exaggerated image of an NBA player was a guy in a fancy ride with tinted windows and an ashtray filled with roaches. While that isn’t the ideal mental picture for athletes to a ticket buying public, if getting a little high once in a while negatively impacted play a kid like Rush would never have been good enough to draft in the first place.
The NBA overreacted to a problem that was more an embarrassment, and now a kid like Rush is writing big checks. Yeah, Rush is a moron who engages occasionally in sort of illegal nonsense, but only because of the NBA’s draconian penalties for violating a bad rule.