Thoughts on Brendan, LeBron and Rashard
I won't be able to catch Brendan Haywood's debut on his sports talk radio show tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on 106.7 The Fan because I'm in Florida and plan on attending the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Tampa. I'm interested in getting your feedback on how Haywood does.
From what I hear, this is a one-time deal and Haywood will get invited back this summer based on his performance and the response from fans. He should do all right, since he has always been an underrated quote and his yardbarker.com blog is pretty good. Nothing compares to Gilbert Arenas's once popular blog, but Haywood has some strong opinions and his recent take on Stephon Marbury is rather hilarious.
I would've liked to have been in Tampa on Thursday when the NABJ Sports Task Force scored a sit down interview with LeBron James. James finally opened up about the dunk video that Nike confiscated from his basketball camp (says he had nothing to do with it), not shaking hands with the Orlando Magic (says he still wouldn't), not talking to the media after Cleveland was eliminated from the playoffs (wishes he could take it back), playing with Shaquille O'Neal (says it's great) and his future with the Cavaliers (he hopes to return after this season).
The only problem I saw with James's comments was how he still doesn't understand that snubbing the Magic was not a good look. He said, "I think sometimes people want you to accept losing, and I will never accept losing. There's ways to handle it certain times, and shaking hands may be it. But I will never accept losing, at anything that I do."
Shaking hands is not accepting defeat; it's acknowledging the victor. There is a big difference. I guess James and I will just agree to disagree.
The funny thing about the whole handshake controversy is that the first player who approached James and got snubbed as James stormed off the court was Rashard Lewis. Maybe James knew something the rest of us didn't, now that the NBA has suspended Lewis for 10 games after he tested positive for a banned substance and violated the league's anti-drug program.
Lewis claims to have taken an over-the-counter nutritional supplement that contained the drug, DHEA, a precursor to steroids that resulted in a spiked testosterone level. Lewis told the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi that it was "an honest mistake" and added, "I'm skinny as hell. Does it look like I take steroids."
No, he doesn't, but that doesn't mean that this will be something that he will have a hard time living down, no matter how much I would like to believe him. Lewis reportedly took the supplement late the season when he was dealing with knee tendonitis. He's also an undersized power forward. The Orlando Sentinel also reports that Lewis was so shocked by the initial failed test that he took another during the NBA Finals and failed again.
Lewis is not at the top of the list of players that I would suspect was on a performance-enhancing drugs. I used to think that PEDs were big in power sports such as track, baseball and boxing and weren't a problem for basketball. But steroids aren't just used to get bulked up; they are also a means to recover quickly. With a sport that has so many back-to-back games and is such a physical grind, I'm a bit surprised that more players aren't (haven't been caught) using them as a means to cope. Lewis's suspension doesn't necessarily mean that there is a need for a witchhunt (especially since there is no indication that there is an NBA's version of Jose Canseco who will surface and put players on blast), but it does raise suspicions, given his status as an all-star -- and $118 million man -- in this league.
And, will you be able to look at the latest Nike commercial (with DJ Quik and a rapping Lewis, Mo Williams, Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant) the same?
The Lewis suspension won't impact the Wizards because the teams won't meet until Jan. 8. But it could cause the Magic to get off to a slow start on the season ---- even with their tissue-sort schedule the first 10 games against Philadelphia, New Jersey (twice), Toronto Detroit (twice), Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Cleveland) -- and cause a bit of an adjustment period when he returns, since Orlando has added so many new pieces this offseason.
As for the Wizards, they will have training camp in Richmond for the sixth consecutive year. They will also open up the preseason schedule against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 6 in Richmond. The rest of the schedule has yet to be released.
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