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WITH LEWIS CEREMONY WEDNESDAY, NEW REPORTS OF DRUG USE ARISE
Published March 20, 1995
With the Celtics scheduled to hold "Reggie Lewis Night" Wednesday evening at the Boston Garden, two new reports over continue to suggest the former basketball star may have used cocaine. On Saturday, the BOSTON GLOBE reported in a page one exclusive that former Northeastern AD Irwin Cohen informed NU President John Curry that Lewis and a teammate "tested positive for cocaine in March of 1987." Cohen was suspended with pay from his new position as Assistant to the President while NU investigates the case. Curry told the GLOBE: "I can no longer say that Reggie Lewis was free from drugs while he played at Northeastern" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/18). In this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL, Ron Suskind reports that former NU player Derrick Lewis, a "close friend" of the Celtics star, said "the two of them used cocaine together on several occasions," including five days before Lewis collapsed during a playoff game in '93 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/19). Reggie Lewis' widow, Donna Harris-Lewis, again claimed that her husband did not use drugs, but the BOSTON GLOBE reports that Harris-Lewis called Dr. Gilbert Mudge, Lewis' cardiologist, on the night of his death and left a message stating: "There were many things that we could never tell you. There were many things that you didn't know" (Stephen Kurkjian, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19). CELTICS RESPOND: The Celtics said they will host the Lewis event on Wednesday. Celtics Chair Paul Gaston said the night will celebrate Lewis' life, "not for the mistakes he might have made along the line." Gaston said he was undecided whether he will pursue the $100M lawsuit he threatened last week against the Journal over the original story. Gaston: "My beef all along last week was I was accused of committing insurance fraud and this doesn't change that" (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19). The GLOBE's Dan Shaughnessy writes that the Northeastern story raises more questions: "Follow the money. ... What did the Celtics know and when did they know it? ... When is the last time anybody saw Dave Gavitt?" Gavitt was Celtics CEO at the time of Lewis' death. Shaughnessy urges the Celts to put the event "on hold ... This just doesn't feel like the time to be raising any banners" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19). MEDIA WATCH: NBC, which was criticized by some for ignoring the Lewis story during last week's NBA coverage, mentioned the GLOBE piece yesterday during "Prudential's At the Half." Hannah Storm noted the revelation that Lewis had tested positive for cocaine while at Northeastern. Storm: "We should mention here that there is no indication that Lewis used cocaine after 1987. He entered the NBA later that year" (NBC, 3/19). In New York, Phil Mushnick writes that it is time for NBC to "admit what several key NBCers privately admit with regret. NBC has become extremely selective about what it reports based on its relationship with its two most important business partners -- the NFL and the NBA. Especially the NBA" (N.Y. POST, 3/20). In L.A., Mark Heisler addresses NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol's characterization of the original Journal piece as "wholly lacking in substantiation." Heisler notes that it "was based on interviews with 12 doctors, some of whom treated or were consulted by Lewis" (L.A. TIMES, 3/19).