SBD/9/Sports Society

Print All
  • WALL STREET JOURNAL RAISES NEW QUESTIONS ON REGGIE LEWIS

         The death of Celtics star Reggie Lewis is examined in an
    extensive piece in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Reporter
    Ron Suskind revisits the agonizing question of how Lewis' ailment
    could have ended in tragedy with top cardiologists on the case.
    "Part of the answer lies in the willingness of family members,
    lawyers, Celtics officials and some doctors to sidestep the
    possible cause of Mr. Lewis' collapse" -- cocaine use.  While
    protecting the reputation of a Boston hero was one motive, Suskind
    examines other factors:  the potential damage to the NBA and the
    team from a drug scandal (especially in light of the Celtics'
    history with Len Bias); the more than $15M in insurance coverage
    that would be paid out to Lewis and the Celtics (negated if drug
    use was detected), and the potential to derail the Boston Celtics
    Limited Partnership's buyback of a local TV station.  Writes
    Suskind, "Events would show that such considerations, abetted by
    the NBA's dismissive policies regarding drugs, may have affected
    human behavior and medical procedure in a fatal fashion.  Whether
    Mr. Lewis died from a heart damaged by cocaine -- as many doctors
    suspected then and now -- cannot be defintively shown.  What is
    evident:  The official cause of death, a heart damaged by a
    common-cold virus, is a medically nonsensical finding by a coroner
    who was under intense pressure from the Lewis family to exclude
    any implication of drug use."  Celtics VP Jan Volk:  "This was
    never an insurance issue, it was an issue of human tragedy and
    that was the only way we looked at it.  We never focused on it
    from any other perspective."  Suskind notes that Lewis' mother,
    Inez Ritch, is a reformed cocaine addict.
         THE NBA'S DRUG POLICY:  Suskind examines the "fine print" of
    the NBA's drug policy, which allows for no random testing after a
    player's rookie year unless a team or the NBPA finds "reasonable
    cause."  Officials and treatment experts from football and
    baseball say the NBA has a "don't ask, don't tell" drug policy
    that "seems rigorous on the surface but is designed not to be."
    The drug policy came into play during Lewis' first examination,
    when doctors -- who strongly suspected drug use as a cause of the
    heart condition -- were told by Celtics CEO Dave Gavitt that Lewis
    "couldn't be forced" into a test.  Noting the "reasonable cause"
    clause, Suskind calls that a "questionable assertion" on Gavitt's
    part.  But, "no NBA expert was called upon."
         CAUSE OF DEATH:  While two leading pathologists determined
    Lewis' death could have been due to scarring of the heart from
    cocaine use, there was not enough evidence from a toxicology
    report or any other investigation to list that as the official
    cause of death.  However, cardiac pathologists can cite no
    scientific evidence supporting the common cold virus finding.
    Deputy medical examiner Stanton Kessler, who filed the death
    certificate, said he couldn't discuss the case, citing "pressure
    from the family and other 'Boston institutions.'"  Charles
    McDonald, spokesperson for the MA Office of Public Safety, said
    his office is investigating the "very serious issues" raised by
    the JOURNAL report (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/9).  Lewis' jersey is
    to be retired at a March 22 Boston Garden ceremony.
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Celtics, NBA, Sports in Society
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug