The Celtics will go ahead with their planned ceremony to
honor Reggie Lewis by retiring his No. 35, despite more stories
in recent days alleging cocaine use by the late Celtics captain.
Celtics GM M.L. Carr, who said the team never considered delaying
the ceremony, "chose to focus his thoughts on the work Lewis did
in the community and the leadership he gave the team as captain
in 1992-93." During the halftime ceremony, Carr, Larry Bird,
Celtics President Red Auerbach, NBA Commissioner David Stern and
Dee Brown will speak along with Lewis' widow, Donna Harris-Lewis
(Michael Holley, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22). Attending a telethon for
the Reggie Lewis Foundation last night, Bird said of his former
teammate: "He played very hard, and he worked very hard. This
other stuff I've heard about him, I just don't believe" (Michael
Holley, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22).
AND NOW, THE BAD NEWS: Yesterday, the GLOBE and the BOSTON
HERALD both had front-page stories on Lewis' alleged cocaine use.
The GLOBE piece cited friend and former college teammate Derrick
Lewis (no relation), who confirmed what he had previously told
the WALL STREET JOURNAL about Lewis' "social use" of cocaine.
Derrick Lewis added that he, Reggie Lewis, Len Bias and an
unidentified fourth person used cocaine together during
basketball camp in 1985. Derrick Lewis also said that he and
Lewis did cocaine in 1993, less than a week before Reggie Lewis
collapsed in a playoff game (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE,
3/21). The HERALD cited a "self-professed former drug dealer"
who said he sold cocaine to Lewis on two occassions in the summer
of 1988 (Flynn & Buckley, BOSTON HERALD, 3/21).
TODAY'S HEADLINES: Today's HERALD has two more front-page
stories. One cites a "medical source close to his case" who said
that Lewis "was a regular, heavy user of cocaine -- and continued
to use it even after collapsing during his final NBA game. Lewis
admitted to at least one of his doctors that he used cocaine
prior to every home game as a 'performance enhancer.'" According
to the source, Lewis "would not -- or could not --stop, even
after he was warned following the collapse that continued use
would kill him." Celtics Exec VP Jan Volk: "This is an
incredibly bold statement to be made under the claok of an
unnamed source and an obvious violation of medical ethics. I
have absolutely no knowledge of the conduct suggested" (Michael
Lasalandra, BOSTON HERALD, 3/22). The other piece alleges that
cocaine use "was common" among the Celtics during the 1980s. The
article cites "Laura," a Boston woman who regularly partied with
the teame, and includes confirmation from Robert Long, a former
member of the State Police Narcotics Unit. Long said alleged use
among the Celtics and other Boston-area athletes was "common
knowledge," but never probed because the violations never went
beyond recreational use (Ralph Ranalli, BOSTON HERALD, 3/22).
BACKING OFF HIS STORY: Last night, ESPN's Keith Olbermann
said that Derrick Lewis had called ESPN Tuesday night and "said
he never saw Reggie Lewis or Len Bias use cocaine"
("SportsCenter," 3/21). The GLOBE stands by its story, and
reports that Derrick Lewis called MacMullan and told her: "I'm
sorry, I'm sorry, but I just can't take the heat. Everybody down
here is saying that I'm the guy that sold out my buddy, so I'm
taking it all back" MacMullan says she has the original 2 1/2
hour interview with Derrick Lewis is on tape (BOSTON GLOBE,
3/22). Donna Harris-Lewis responded to Derrick Lewis' original
statement: "Consider the source. What is Derrick Lewis doing?
Where is he in his life? He's desperate! ... I hold firm: My
husband was not a user, and he did not do cocaine" (WCVB-TV,
DRUG POLICY UNDER FIRE: In his column this morning, Will
McDonough writes, "The drug policies in pro sports are a farce,
but the NBA's is the most hypocritical. A player is tested only
when he comes into the league. So players are told by their
agents to be clean for the test, then get a free ticket for their
whole career. ... When it comes to drugs, the Celtics don't want
to see a thing. Isn't it now hard to believe that the front
office people, his coaches and his teammates could be around
Reggie for all those years and not know he was using?" (BOSTON