By Jeffery Armstrong
Here's hoping LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets can put the glamour back in the NBA like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird did so many years ago.
On Tuesday, James played in his first NBA game, a summer league contest against the Orlando Magic. More than 15,000 people came to watch him play. You'd be lucky to draw 5,000 people at most summer league NBA games. Rookies, young players and undrafted college players are on those teams trying to make an NBA roster so nobody except basketball junkies and scouts come out to watch them play.
James is really what the NBA needs at this point. Why? Because that league right now stands for Nothing But Aggravation, at least in my most humble opinion. I used to think it was the premier league in American pro sports, but I don't feel that way now.
NBA players spend more time getting in trouble than the average four-year-old kid. Recently, Damon Stoudamire of the Portland Trailblazers was caught trying to pass through an airport with marijuana on his person. This is the third time that he's been caught with the "sticky icky" on him. Unreal.
Charles Oakley of the Washington Wizards told reporters this season that players were into marijuana so heavily that many of them smelled like it when they were on the court. That's crazy!
But that's the NBA for you. You know how certain products are fixtures with pro teams, like Southwest Airlines is the official airline of some teams and MasterCard is the official credit card of others? Well, marijuana is the official drug of the NBA.
This fixation NBA players (and millions of others) have with marijuana intrigues me. Can somebody please explain to me the fascination with it? I just don't get it. I've never taken or smoked any drugs in my entire life and I never will.
First of all, they're illegal and I really don't have a problem with obeying the law. Second, if you get caught with illegal drugs, that's either jail time or fine money spent and I also happen to enjoy my freedom and keeping what little money I do have. Even if I were a millionaire, I wouldn't want to give my money to law enforcement officials, NBA executives or both. What's most ignorant about "Pothead" Stoudamire's situation is that he walked through the airport's metal detector with the marijuana like it was socks in a carry-on bag or something. How stupid! I'm quite sure he could've found someone selling "weed" wherever he was going. I've known weed smokers since I was in the ninth grade and if teenagers could get their hands on it, surely a wealthy NBA player with plenty of resources could find someone with an ounce or two around somewhere. Couldn't he survive without his precious drug for a few hours? Is the high he gets that great?
But that's the NBA for you. It took the league years before finally putting marijuana on the list of banned substances and NBA execs still don't enforce it strictly. All league officials care about is the money that these players make for them and I guess as long as NBA players aren't beating their women, committing murder or robbing banks, it's okay for them to smoke those funny-smelling cigarettes.
Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.