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SBD/27/Leagues Governing Bodies
N.Y. TIMES REPORTS ON DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE IN THE NBA
Published October 27, 1997
Marijuana and alcohol use in the NBA was examined on the front page of Sunday's N.Y. TIMES sports section in an above- the-fold feature by Selena Roberts. Roberts writes that "[c]ontrary to the wholesome image marketed" by the NBA, 60- 70% of its 350-plus players "smoke marijuana and drink excessively, according to conversations with more than two dozen players, former players, agents and basketball executives." Former NBA player Richard Dumas, who is banned from the NBA for drug and alcohol use: "If they tested for pot, there would be no league." Roberts: "Two decades ago, the league nearly collapsed under a perception that its athletes were high on cocaine. Now, many people are saying the NBA's 14-year-old drug policy is so antiquated and ineffective that it protects players despite behavior that is illegal and commonplace." Under the CBA, the league allows mandatory drug testing of rookies only and "does not list marijuana as a prohibited substance" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). PARTYMEN? Players interviewed said "marijuana, drinking and clubs are part of a post-game party scene in almost every NBA city. Cocaine, once the bane of pro basketball, has fallen out of favor, but a fast-paced life style has been thriving in a league that is increasingly richer and younger. More exotic drugs are available." NBA Commissioner David Stern said he has "serious questions concerning drinking and marijuana," and added that if owners do reopen the CBA next year, "the league will propose tightening the drug policy." Stern: "I'm not saying it's a problem. But it's an issue that we'd like to address. Beyond that, there is an opportunity for athletes to lead as examples." NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter: "I've often heard it from players that they suspect people in management are using drugs. ... If there is a marijuana problem, it's one reflective of society. ... I don't intend to impose on our players more than what is imposed on people in society." Raptors G Damon Stoudamire: "As far as use, it's bad in the league, but I think half of America might smoke marijuana" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26).