WITH LEWIS CEREMONY WEDNESDAY, NEW REPORTS OF DRUG USE ARISE
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).