Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

JR Smith suspended for drug policy violation

According to multiple sources that probably wouldn’t get something like this wrong, JR Smith has been suspended five games for violating the NBA’s substance abuse policy.

The NBA says Smith’s suspension will commence from whenever he is deemed physically able to play. Smith is currently recovering from a pair of minor knee surgeries conducted in mid July.

As multiple-game suspensions are typically only wielded after a player has failed multiple drug tests, logic has it that JR botched his wiz quiz at least three times.

Which naturally invites the question: Is that decision made by league doctors, or team doctors? If it’s the latter, what’s to stop them from clearing Smith two days before the start of the season, even if, in reality, he’s only 75 or 80%. Is that allowed?

I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore. I feel betrayed.

No I don’t.

I’ll leave it to the peanut gallery to sort out whether this is a) simply JR being JR, b) a frustrating episode in what has otherwise been a slowly-unfolding story of redemption, c) a clear sign that JR is out of control, has a significant addiction, and should seek professional, ongoing help immediately. Maybe none of the above. Maybe all three at once.

Following his dismal Playoff performance this spring, rumors abound that JR’s late night ways — partying til 4am bloodshot-eyed all the while — were negatively impacting what by all accounts had been Smith’s best season to date, and the Sixth Man award and bevy of career-high that were its highlights.

Despite the relatively short suspension, the Knicks will doubtless miss the mercurial Earl, who emerged as the team’s secondary scorer and the offensive focal point of a number of secondary units a season ago.

Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, even rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr. — all of these guys will be asked to step up in Smith’s absence. Which, given the unpredictable nature of his injury, might well have been the case anyway.

Still, this isn’t the kind of circus you want swirling around all the talk — however absurd — of contending for a title.

As it appears to be simple matter of giggle twig overindulgence, maybe it’s not that big of a deal.

Then again, Michael Beasley.

Indeed, it’s not the offense itself that’s worrisome; multiple players have been on the record stating that a vast majority of the league takes in the occasional toke. Rather, it’s the increasingly cavalier nature of Smith’s behavior, and what it suggests about his current mental state — and the possibility of other substances being involved — at which we’re right to bristle.

The NBA has long approached marijuana use the way most major American cities treat prostitution: so long as you’re not handing over a briefcase full of money with dollar bills spewing out the side to a naked woman who then has sex with you in the middle of a highway median during rush hour, you’re probably fine.

Sprinkle chunks of ganja cookies over your Cap’N Crunch every morning?* You’re kinda asking for it.

*admitted conjecture

58 comments on “JR Smith suspended for drug policy violation

  1. er

    JR is a known pot head. But it doesnt effect you playing. D Wade is a known user and he is amazing. Idk why leagues even test for rec drugs honestly

  2. steveoh

    I want to be disappointed, but we knew what we were getting when we signed the guy. Some day he’ll grow up. Who knows when that will be.

  3. Brian Cronin

    I agree with both sides of this situation.

    A. The NBA’s Drug Policy is a joke but
    B. I don’t think this is a big deal. Doesn’t pretty much everyone in the NBA smoke weed? The only difference is JR is a bit dumber than the rest about getting caught.

  4. thenamestsam

    I have to say I find it a bit concerning that a lot of the “Everyone in the NBA smokes weed” talk seems to be of the “It is known” variety. I have to say it seems like it has more than a bit of a racial component to it. Has anyone ever seen an actual source on the percentage of the league that indulges, a poll, or sourced quotes from players to the effect that it is rampant or anything like that? I’m not sure I ever have. The best I can find is this TMZ report about hard drugs in the NBA in which “One NBA-connected source says pot is “ubiquitous” in the sport”. And “The players we’ve spoken with all agree … pot is prevalent.” Not the most convincing evidence. Does anyone have anything bette, because that seems pretty weak?

    I don’t doubt that plenty of them smoke, because, hell, plenty of everybody smokes. But is there a reason everybody talks about it all the time with the NBA when they don’t for any other sport?
    http://www.tmz.com/2013/08/29/lamar-odom-nba-drug-test-cocaine-crack-ecstasy-molly-pot/#ixzz2e9APVNrI
    Visit Fishwrapper: http://www.fishwrapper.com

  5. er

    thenamestsam:
    I have to say I find it a bit concerning that a lot of the “Everyone in the NBA smokes weed” talk seems to be of the “It is known” variety. I have to say it seems like it has more than a bit of a racial component to it. Has anyone ever seen an actual source on the percentage of the league that indulges, a poll, or sourced quotes from players to the effect that it is rampant or anything like that? I’m not sure I ever have. The best I can find is this TMZ report about hard drugs in the NBA in which “One NBA-connected source says pot is “ubiquitous” in the sport”. And “The players we’ve spoken with all agree … pot is prevalent.” Not the most convincing evidence. Does anyone have anything bette, because that seems pretty weak?

    I don’t doubt that plenty of them smoke, because, hell, plenty of everybody smokes. But is there a reason everybody talks about it all the time with the NBA when they don’t for any other sport?
    http://www.tmz.com/2013/08/29/lamar-odom-nba-drug-test-cocaine-crack-ecstasy-molly-pot/#ixzz2e9APVNrI
    Visit Fishwrapper: http://www.fishwrapper.com

    Shit, i think over half of young athletes smoke weed. Its just something young ppl do..some smoke alot, some smoke a little. You have plenty of money and you are trying to relax. And yes white ppl smoke as much as black if not more

  6. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I think there’s plenty of stuff about the NBA that’s just basically barely veiled racism, but I don’t think the drug use is one of them. Players just happen to smoke a lot of weed. I’m sure the Kevin Loves of the world are right there with them. I think Oak once was quoted as saying over half the NBA smokes weed and he’d A. certainly know and B. wouldn’t be one to just lie about other players for no reason.

  7. thenamestsam

    Brian Cronin:
    Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I think there’s plenty of stuff about the NBA that’s just basically barely veiled racism, but I don’t think the drug use is one of them. Players just happen to smoke a lot of weed. I’m sure the Kevin Loves of the world are right there with them. I think Oak once was quoted as saying over half the NBA smokes weed and he’d A. certainly know and B. wouldn’t be one to just lie about other players for no reason.

    But that’s what I’m saying in the last paragraph. I have no doubt that lots and lots of NBA players smoke pot because lots and lots of people smoke pot, especially young people. Yet I don’t hear people just throw it around with the NFL like “Oh yeah all those guys definitely get high” and I definitely don’t hear it about MLB or the NHL. Those guys are young. They’re rich. Why is it only the NBA where I always hear comments like “Oh yeah, everybody in the NBA smokes” thrown around? If there was a study or something or even on the record player quotes to that effect I might understand.

    I have to admit I forgot that Oak controversy but you’re right he did say that so I guess that partially answers my question. Here’s an article about it if you’re curious:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/10555/high_in_the_nba

    He also said that players play high “every night” and (in an excellent demonstration of his math abilities) said “It’s over 50%, and once you get over 50 you’ve got to go to the next number, 60.” So I’m not sure how seriously we should treat his exact number. But like I said I don’t have any doubt that lots of players smoke for the same reasons I don’t doubt that lots of MLB, NFL, and NHL players smoke. I just wonder why I hear so much more about it.

  8. flossy

    I have absolutely no problem with players smoking… as long as it doesn’t affect their job performance. I *do* have a problem with players who are so cavalier or stupid about it that they fail at least 3 drug tests and get suspended. I fully believe that a lot of NBA players smoke at least occasionally, but it seems like the league really has no interest in going after people for it unless you are pretty blatant about it. JR has been photographed smoking weed in public; that alone is reasonable cause for the NBA to test. At some point, a person needs to just get his shit together.

  9. Unreason

    This season’s roster includes JR and MWP. Melo’s next contract will get increasing attention. Amare may or may not reprise his astoundingly egoless attitude from last season as his role is redefined again. So, I have a question:

    How are “distractions” and “leadership” able to affect team performance? Not, Do they?, but – How do they affect performance?

    Distraction implies decreased “focus”. Behaviorally that might mean: sticking to training routines; following instructions in practice and in games; doing things that increase motivation and effort. Those behaviors might have 2 important outcomes: 1) fitness; 2) ingrained habits of doing things effectively in response to appropriate cues. Distractions then, might be defined as anything that decreases the frequency or quality of those “focus” behaviors.

    Re the Knicks: How might a sequence of MercuryEarl antics and MettaSTATic flourishes or a looming Denverish Melodrama affect the Knicks’ focus? I’m not saying any of this is in store for sure but, ya know, it might be. Does distraction do its work by creating doubts about the distracting players’ reliability? Do those doubts do their work by disrupting good habits and inducing small hesitations or lower effort or less scanning for opportunities to make effective plays? If Amare is again an Ubermench-off-the-bench, does it have the opposite effect? These conjectures just restate commonly held assumptions about thing that affect performance. Lacking better ideas they seem a reasonable beginning.

    I am interested though in the mechanisms that give meaning to the very general explanatory terms we often use like “chemistry”, “gelling”, “leadership” as well as “focus” and “distractions”. I have a hunch they refer to very real and important phenomena that have been very hard to study empirically. I wonder if they could be investigated using data from the new camera tracking systems. Of course I hope the Knicks only provide opportunities to…

  10. bockadoo

    He is the village idiot. A guy with his talent should be embarrassed that we signed him for so cheap. He can’t be counted on for anything, and should not be part of a respectable, championship caliber organization. I am so sick of him and guys like him. I wish I didn’t love basketball and the Knicks so much. He must literally be very stupid.

  11. Robert Silverman

    bockadoo:
    He is the village idiot. A guy with his talent should be embarrassed that we signed him for so cheap.He can’t be counted on for anything, and should not be part of a respectable, championship caliber organization. I am so sick of him and guys like him. I wish I didn’t love basketball and the Knicks so much. He must literally be very stupid.

    I disagree with every word of this.

  12. Shad0wF0x

    “The NBA says Smith’s suspension will commence from whenever he is deemed physically able to play. Smith is currently recovering from a pair of minor knee surgeries conducted in mid July.”

    So who’s supposed to be judging this? Who’s to say that J.R. isn’t physically able to play the 1st game and he’ll just have convenient suspension to get 5 games of rest?

  13. bockadoo

    So you say he’s smart, his contract is equal to his talent level, he’s reliable in crunch time/playoffs, you’re proud to have him on your team, and getting suspended for 5 games reflects intelligence and maturity?

  14. Robert Silverman

    bockadoo:
    So you say he’s smart, his contract is equal to his talent level, he’s reliable in crunch time/playoffs, you’re proud to have him on your team, and getting suspended for 5 games reflects intelligence and maturity?

    I have no idea what JR’s level of intelligence off the court is (and neither do you). He’s signed for less than he could make partially b/c of what he does on the court and partially because he’s injured (which the Knicks knew, unlike the violations of the drug policy. The player is informed, but not the team.

    And he got suspended because we in this country are using an ineffective policy (prohibition) w/r/t drugs. I don’t condemn JR any more than I’d condemn a woman who is put to death where they have capital punishment for adultery. Or maybe I should. She’s so dumb/selfish/the village idiot/should have known better.

    Yes, I like having JR on the Knicks.

  15. bockadoo

    I feel bad about calling him or anyone else stupid. Maybe “incredibly irresponsible and immature” would be more accurate. I apologize. I just can’t help but feel personally insulted as a long suffering Knick fan who has to hear this crap. I was psyched that we signed him and love watching him play most of the time. I was hoping that he’d take things more seriously and work hard toward being the all star starting 2 guard that he really could be. It’s just another bit of news that the rest of the league will shake their heads at and laugh at us.

  16. Frank O.

    It’s kind of silly getting caught smoking weed at his age, wealth and experience. High school kids get caught doing the stuff.
    I think it’s silly treating pot differently than alcohol, but until such time as the law changes, guys have to be careful.
    Second, not sure the NBA focus on this stuff is so racially charged, although there always is some. I think nBa teams are relatively small by sports standards. Just one side of the football is almost as numerous as an entire NBA team. Forty five to an NFL roster, 25 for an MLB roster, etc. it’s hard to get lost in an NBA team. And there are only five starters.
    I have a love/dislike thing with Earl. When I hear him speak, he’s a nice guy, self effacing, contrite when he’s made mistakes Nd willing to take responsibility for his errors. He’s not stupid.
    I do think he’s careless. Honestly, describing him it reminds me of my son, who sometimes does in fathomable things that are partly an outgrowth of his ADD. When he’s a bit overwhelmed he does inexplicable things.
    Anyway, I’m finding as I get older I’m far less comfortable passing judgment over people I don’t well know. Too often we’re wrong and lack all the information.

  17. SeeWhyDee77

    Sorry..just posted this on the last thread not realizing there was a new thread dedicated to Earl III

    SeeWhyDee77: An that explains the interest in Rip Hamilton. U kno..as valuable as JR has been an as much as I believe in second chances, if there was a way to lose the contract I’d rather have Rip..even at 35. Consummate professional. And while he doesn’t have the range JR has, he’s not gonna take as many bad shots. And I’m sorry I only half consider JR a 3 point threat, it’s really his range that scares defenses not his accuracy. But..it’s only 5 games. I’d be very surprised if the team doesn’t address this swiftly and sternly. As big of a piece as he is to the teams puzzle, u can’t coddle this kid at this point. Good kid by all accounts, but his..eccentricity lands him in hot water way too often to make him reliable. I’m interested to see how it gets handled

  18. johnno

    I think that people are treating this far too lightly. Everyone is assuming that he tested positive for pot but, for all we know, it could have been something much “harder” that he tested positive for. After all, there have been rumors of other drug use. But, even if it was marijuana, a guy who tests positive three times and puts his livelihood at risk is probably not a “casual user” but, rather, is probably a guy with a substance abuse problem. And, for those who are saying that they don’t care what he does in his spare time as long as it doesn’t affect his performance — isn’t it possible that his streakiness on the court just might be due to his showing up for games either hung over or actually impaired? Or is everyone forgetting the Rihanna tweet during the playoffs or JR’s own admission that, the year before, he got “too caught up in the New York nightlife” or that he once was involved in a fatal drunk driving accident. My guess is that Woody and Knicks management is taking this issue a whole lot more seriously than most people on this website are.

  19. johnno

    johnno: he once was involved in a fatal drunk driving accident.

    Correction — the accident apparently involved reckless, but not drunk, driving.

  20. SeeWhyDee77

    johnno:
    I think that people are treating this far too lightly.Everyone is assuming that he tested positive for pot but, for all we know, it could have been something much “harder” that he tested positive for.After all, there have been rumors of other drug use.But, even if it was marijuana, a guy who tests positive three times and puts his livelihood at risk is probably not a “casual user” but, rather, is probably a guy with a substance abuse problem.And, for those who are saying that they don’t care what he does in his spare time as long as it doesn’t affect his performance — isn’t it possible that his streakiness on the court just might be due to his showing up for games either hung over or actually impaired?Or is everyone forgetting the Rihanna tweet during the playoffs or JR’s own admission that, the year before, he got “too caught up in the New York nightlife” or that he once was involved in a fatal drunk driving accident.My guess is that Woody and Knicks management is taking this issue a whole lot more seriously than most people on this website are.

    +1

  21. SeeWhyDee77

    It does have me and should have everyone involved with the Knicks from fans to FO really worried. Kinda glad G had the foresight to go guard in the draft when he could have gone big

  22. citizen

    Robert Silverman:
    And he got suspended because we in this country are using an ineffective policy (prohibition) w/r/t drugs. I don’t condemn JR any more than I’d condemn a woman who is put to death where they have capital punishment for adultery. Or maybe I should. She’s so dumb/selfish/the village idiot/should have known better.

    So let me get this straight: are you saying that JR Smith getting punished by his employer for a workplace violation against a rule that he voluntarily consented to when he chose his profession is morally analogous to a woman getting executed in a country in which she happens to have been born, by a government in which she most likely enjoys no representation and in accordance with a judicial process in which she most likely is not not allowed to participate? Wow…

  23. Robert Silverman

    citizen: So let me get this straight: are you saying that JR Smith getting punished by his employer for a workplace violation against a rule that he voluntarily consented to when he chose his profession is morally analogous to a woman getting executed in a country in which she happens to have been born, by a government in which she most likely enjoys no representation and in accordance with a judicial process in which she most likely is not not allowed to participate? Wow…

    1. He’s been punished by the NBA the organizing body for his chosen profession, not his employer, the Knicks.

    2. The NBA’s drug program is reflective of the massive failure that has been Prohibition. The NBA’s decision to suspend players didn’t arrive in a vacuum.

    3. I did not say it’s analogous, but that’s a swell straw man argument. I used an extreme example to point to the fact that punishing people for drug use has never and will never work. To call the people who violate rules dumb or immature or morally wrong is, in my opinion, farcical. Is it as abhorrent as the deranged way women are treated in parts of the world? No of course not. The violence that occurs to women as a result of archaic, barbaric societies is an ongoing horror. What happened to JR is just dumb. But a shark and a minnow are both fish. And like rotting fish, this stinks.

    Why do we seem to think it’s right and proper for NBA players to be tested for recreational drugs? It’s part of the idea that using certain chemicals is immoral, which has led to nothing but lining the coffers of those who sell said chemicals and has filled the prisons with millions of non-violent individuals. So yes, when we shrug our collective shoulders and say, “Welp. Those are the rules, we are de facto suborning those rules. That’s my objection.

  24. Brian Cronin

    Do we not know that it was for pot? If not, then yeah, it is fair to be concerned if it is not for pot.

  25. Jack Bauer

    Rip Hamilton ??!!?? You cannot be serious. He is as done as the turkey from last Thanksgiving. I would rather throw Earl out there after 5 bong hits than to give his minutes to Rip Hamilton.

  26. johnno

    thenamestsam: But that’s what I’m saying in the last paragraph. I have no doubt that lots and lots of NBA players smoke pot because lots and lots of people smoke pot, especially young people.

    Depends on your definition of “lots and lots.” Most surveys, research, etc., conclude that around 50% of American adults have tried marijuana. However, the number who are considered regular users is generally considered to be in the 5-6% range. I agree that occasional use is no big deal, but a player who is a complete stoner is a big deal. There is a huge difference between the two (just like I believe that there is a big difference between a guy who took HGH once to recover from injury and a guy who was a habitual user throughout his career). I don’t know what category JR falls into, but I am concerned that it might be the latter and not the former. With regard to the comments from players that “most” or that “more than half” smoke, I think that you should take them with a grain of salt. If you ask a random high schooler if kids in his school smoke pot, the answer from kids who do smoke will probably be “practically everyone” and the answer from kids who don’t smoke will probably be “some do, but not too many.” The truth is somewhere between the two. With regard to why the NBA cares about recreational drug use, I am old enough to remember when the NBA had a REAL drug problem — like countless potential HOF careers being derailed and the #2 pick in the entire draft dying of an overdose less than 48 hours after being picked. I think that the NBA is terrified of that problem — or even the public perception of that problem — returning.

  27. SeeWhyDee77

    Jack Bauer:
    Rip Hamilton ??!!?? You cannot be serious. He is as done as the turkey from last Thanksgiving. I would rather throw Earl out there after 5 bong hits than to give his minutes to Rip Hamilton.

    lol true he is in a serious state of decline. I’m probably knee jerkin on this one. But at the same time we got 2 young, impressionable., talented young 2’s. JR probably (understatement) should not be the vet of the bunch. Hell..I’d rather go into the season with Shump-TH2-Murry as our 2’s. the bonus would be Murry can play some point and Udrih is big enough to play some 2

  28. flossy

    Robert, whether or not you agree with America’s prohibition on weed (and for the record, I completely agree it should be legalized and regulated), the fact is that the NBA is not a democracy and as a professional association, has its own code of conduct that it enforces reardless of whether the behavior in question is criminal. Indeed, you can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for using derogatory language that is 100% legal (if frowned upon in polite society). Membership in the NBA is a choice and playing time is not a god given right.

    So while I think weed should be legal, I have absolutely no sympathy for JR, who knows full well what the NBA’s drug policy is and completely disregards it to the point that he’s been photographed multiple times smoking or high in public and has failed at least three recent drug tests. Truth be told, the NBA has a pretty toothless drug policy and virtually nobody else save for burnouts like Mike Beasley seems to have much trouble following the letter, if not the spirit, of these rules. So rail against the system all you want, but JR Smith is pretty much entirely at fault here and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be disappointed and annoyed with his tendency to do stuff like this.

  29. danvt

    Robert Silverman: And he got suspended because we in this country are using an ineffective policy (prohibition) w/r/t drugs. I don’t condemn JR any more than I’d condemn a woman who is put to death where they have capital punishment for adultery. Or maybe I should. She’s so dumb/selfish/the village idiot/should have known better.

    You complete me, Bob.

  30. Jack Bauer

    This is just another case of Earl being Earl. It will always be high risk/erratic medium high reward with him. When he’s on he is pretty good and very athletic. When he’s off it is usually a train wreck and he will kill his team’s chance to win.

  31. Brian Cronin

    Depends on your definition of “lots and lots.” Most surveys, research, etc., conclude that around 50% of American adults have tried marijuana. However, the number who are considered regular users is generally considered to be in the 5-6% range. I agree that occasional use is no big deal, but a player who is a complete stoner is a big deal. There is a huge difference between the two (just like I believe that there is a big difference between a guy who took HGH once to recover from injury and a guy who was a habitual user throughout his career). I don’t know what category JR falls into, but I am concerned that it might be the latter and not the former. With regard to the comments from players that “most” or that “more than half” smoke, I think that you should take them with a grain of salt. If you ask a random high schooler if kids in his school smoke pot, the answer from kids who do smoke will probably be “practically everyone” and the answer from kids who don’t smoke will probably be “some do, but not too many.” The truth is somewhere between the two. With regard to why the NBA cares about recreational drug use, I am old enough to remember when the NBA had a REAL drug problem — like countless potential HOF careers being derailed and the #2 pick in the entire draft dying of an overdose less than 48 hours after being picked. I think that the NBA is terrified of that problem — or even the public perception of that problem — returning.

    I totally get banning cocaine, I just don’t see much of a point from banning marijuana use, especially because it is extremely likely that most players are smart enough not to get caught using it (or rather, smart enough not to get caught a third time so that they’d get suspended).

  32. Brian Cronin

    Here’s an interesting piece of trivia, though.

    The most suspensions any player in NBA history has received is three. Three players have been suspended three times. One of them is Richard Dumas, who was eventually banned for life. The other two are currently members of the New York Knicks.

    Crazy, huh?

  33. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Brian Cronin: I totally get banning cocaine, I just don’t see much of a point from banning marijuana use, especially because it is extremely likely that most players are smart enough not to get caught using it (or rather, smart enough not to get caught a third time so that they’d get suspended).

    But they get the occasional violation, and it makes it look like they’re being the hardline do-gooders we know they’re not.

    I agree, however, that a professional association should be allowed to prohibit certain types of behavior, so long as it is not discriminatory. Marijuana just might not be the best thing to prohibit, since it is quite a bit safer than many alternatives to certain conditions.

  34. Robert Silverman

    flossy:
    Robert, whether or not you agree with America’s prohibition on weed (and for the record, I completely agree it should be legalized and regulated), the fact is that the NBA is not a democracy and as a professional association, has its own code of conduct that it enforces reardless of whether the behavior in question is criminal.Indeed, you can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for using derogatory language that is 100% legal (if frowned upon in polite society).Membership in the NBA is a choice and playing time is not a god given right.

    I realize “The NBA is not a Democracy.” I never said it was. Yes, JR is to blame, and we can be disappointed that he’s going to miss five games, but why is no one angry at the NBA for having such an archaic, pointless rule in place? Why is there no anger at the Players’ Union for allowing its members to have their 4th Amendment rights collectively bargained away. All I’ve heard is condemnation of the player, but absolutely nothing about how dumb this rule is — a rule that’s derived from an even dumber and incredibly damaging national policy.

    That’s why I made the (admittedly extreme) example of executions for adultery. There’s an inherent and false morality in following the rules, no matter how nonsensical they may be. So yes, we can certainly agree that JR should have been able to avoid getting busted (which is another can of worms. It’s not that he did it, it’s that he got caught.), but I think an equal finger of blame can and should be pointed at the league and the union.

  35. Z-man

    Robert Silverman: And he got suspended because we in this country are using an ineffective policy (prohibition) w/r/t drugs. I don’t condemn JR any more than I’d condemn a woman who is put to death where they have capital punishment for adultery. Or maybe I should. She’s so dumb/selfish/the village idiot/should have known better.

    Robert Silverman: The NBA’s drug program is reflective of the massive failure that has been Prohibition. The NBA’s decision to suspend players didn’t arrive in a vacuum….I did not say it’s analogous, but that’s a swell straw man argument.I used an extreme example to point to the fact that punishing people for drug use has never and will never work. To call the people who violate rules dumb or immature or morally wrong is, in my opinion, farcical. Is it as abhorrent as the deranged way women are treated in parts of the world? No of course not. The violence that occurs to women as a result of archaic, barbaric societies is an ongoing horror. What happened to JR is just dumb. But a shark and a minnow are both fish. And like rotting fish, this stinks.

    I must admit to being saddened by this line of reasoning. Its not a shark and a minnow, it is a blue whale and an amoeba. JR Smith would hardly be my standard-bearer in any human rights cause, and defending him on the basis of some larger crusade against drug laws is a joke.

    JR is not getting arrested or thrown in prison. He’s getting disciplined by violating an agreement he signed on to, voluntarily. Feel free to think that the policy is a bad one, but to compare JR’s plight to the horror of systematic debasement of women is downright scary.

  36. Robert Silverman

    Z-man:
    I must admit to being saddened by this line of reasoning. Its not a shark and a minnow, it is a blue whale and an amoeba. JR Smith would hardly be my standard-bearer in any human rights cause, and defending him on the basis of some larger crusade against drug laws is a joke.

    JR is not getting arrested or thrown in prison. He’s getting disciplined by violating an agreement he signed on to, voluntarily. Feel free to think that the policy is a bad one, but to compare JR’s plight to the horror of systematic debasement of women is downright scary.

    Calculate the Billions of dollars spent on this fake “War on Drugs”. Add the millions dead or injured and communities destroyed by dealers because of prohibition, plus the millions of non-violent offenders incarcerated for possession. That’s a nightmare in and of itself. I’m not comparing it to the nightmarish way women are treated in parts of the world. I repeatedly stated this, but the damage done is almost incalculable. Nor did I posit JR Smith as the Rosa Parks of any civil liberties movement or in any way compare his plight to that of women. That’s a straw man argument, Z-man.

    KB probably isn’t the forum to bring this up anyway, but the point I was trying to make is that in an instance where a dumb policy is in place, people are very willing to point the finger of blame at the player, but never at the league or the player’s union. JR missed five games. Really not much of a big deal. The bigger deal is that by solely blaming the player, it is to a certain degree validating US drug policy. And that policy and the devastation it’s wrought, is a big honking deal.

  37. flossy

    Z-man:
    I must admit to being saddened by this line of reasoning. Its not a shark and a minnow, it is a blue whale and an amoeba. JR Smith would hardly be my standard-bearer in any human rights cause, and defending him on the basis of some larger crusade against drug laws is a joke.

    JR is not getting arrested or thrown in prison. He’s getting disciplined by violating an agreement he signed on to, voluntarily. Feel free to think that the policy is a bad one, but to compare JR’s plight to the horror of systematic debasement of women is downright scary.

    Exactly. JR Smith is no martyr, he’s not some activist getting arrested to make a statement. He failed, in a pretty obvious and spectacular fashion, to abide by the rules to which he himself agreed when he joined the league. We may not agree that pot should be illegal, but it is, both federally and in almost every state. The NBA is hardly “archaic” for conforming to current law, and in that sense is no different than every other pro sports league in the U.S. and the scores of other public and private employers that prohibit employees from using drugs. We can agree that the war on drugs is short sighted, ineffective and often cruel without expecting the NBA to be on the vanguard of pro-drug social policy, and also without forgiving JR’s utter lack of discipline or discretion.

    Moreover, I am sure JR might get more of the benefit of the doubt if he didn’t have a rap sheet a mile long that includes vehicular manslaughter, on court brawling and public intoxication of every stripe. Failing enough drug tests to warrant a suspension is just exhibit 81736 on the record of JR Smith’s behavioral issues.

  38. Z

    Yeah, I agree, if they don’t test for aspirin, there’s no logic to testing for marijuana. But it is a collectively bargained agreement, and for whatever reason it is important to the league to have it, and the union probably got some consolation for it elsewhere in the agreement (that’s how these things are bargained, yes?)

    More important than the legality, I think, is its effect on performance. THC in one’s system probably doesn’t impact performance, but it does effect appetite, which in turn impacts performance. As an athlete myself, I avoid it when I am in training, as I have noticed it negatively effects my performance. It’s not a huge impact, but it is noticeable, and in the case of the NBA, with the competition so high and the games eing won or lost on the margins, I think it could make a significant difference.

    And the fact that it is, of course, JR Smith in question, says a lot too. I think that if Michael Jordan came out and said he smoked a J every night (as if smoking the Knicks wasn’t enough!), no one would fault him because his athletic performance spoke for itself. JR Smith, on the other hand, is as erratic as they get on the court, so his off-court behavior will always raise eyebrows.

  39. Robert Silverman

    Let me rephrase what I wanted to say, because I started out in an inflammatory way that I think was, in retrospect, a poor choice on my part.

    Yes, JR should be held culpable for failing to adhere to the policy. But I take issue w/the policy, regardless of the fact that it conforms to that of other sports leagues or larger US Drug Policy. I think, for fans upset that JR’s missing games, there should be a modicum of blame pointed at the NBA for adhering to/instituting the policy.

    And yes, I think the policy is reflective of the larger issues surrounding the “War on Drugs” — a ‘war’ that has only served to harm the people it is intended to protect. I also think saying, “Well, those are the rules. Like ‘em or not” does validate the larger US policy, if inadvertently.

    That’s it. If I phrased what I wanted to say badly, or offended anyone, I apologize.

  40. Z-man

    Robert Silverman: JR missed five games. Really not much of a big deal. The bigger deal is that by solely blaming the player, it is to a certain degree validating US drug policy. And that policy and the devastation it’s wrought, is a big honking deal.

    This is where you lose me. There are many things that are dealt with by society as a whole on one level, and by various professional athletic associations on an unrelated level. Gambling is one example.

    Maybe a better example is college players accepting/making money in violation of NCAA rules. I think it is a gross injustice when a college athletes, often from impoverished backgrounds are used like property to make multi-millions for the college, TV moguls, and the NCAA. But the violator of the policy should not be mentioned in the same breath as child soldiers in Rwanda.

    In my humble opinion, NBA drug policy is a far cry from being harsh or reflective of archaic laws like the Rockerfeller laws, and the fact that JR had to be a 3-time violator to receive a suspension that is less harsh than a player gets for engaging in a fistfight on the court in the heat of the moment is evidence for that. He is not being arrested, prosecuted, or imprisoned.

    The irony is, I am totally with you on the societal issue, and believe that marijuana use, commerce, and legality should be handled pretty much the same way as alcohol and gambling. And since there is no “legal” issue here, I didn’t see why you felt compelled to go down that road.

    FWIW, I think you nearly always come across as a kind, considerate, sensitive and reflective writer of articles and comments. Nothing personal intended here, and if it came across that way, I apologize.

  41. johnno

    Why is everyone ignoring the fact that, in order for a guy to fail three drug tests, he must be smoking constantly (since even guys who smoke fairly regularly routinely pass tests)? I realize that marijuana is not the most dangerous substance in the world but, then again, alcohol is not a dangerous substance either if you have a glass of wine every night with dinner or a few beers when you are watching a game on TV. When you start getting trashed every day or night or binge drinking, alcohol can cause all kinds of problems. If a guy is smoking pot regularly enough to fail three tests (and probably drinking to excess and/or using other substances), the guy most likely has a substance abuse problem. Anyone who has ever had a friend or family member who has had any kind of substance abuse problem will tell you that the problem permeates and affects every single aspect of their lives, including their performance at work or, in the case of an athlete, on the field or on the court. I’ll say it again — I guess that I am in the minority, but I think that this is a very big deal.

  42. Brian Cronin

    Why is everyone ignoring the fact that, in order for a guy to fail three drug tests, he must be smoking constantly (since even guys who smoke fairly regularly routinely pass tests)? I realize that marijuana is not the most dangerous substance in the world but, then again, alcohol is not a dangerous substance either if you have a glass of wine every night with dinner or a few beers when you are watching a game on TV. When you start getting trashed every day or night or binge drinking, alcohol can cause all kinds of problems. If a guy is smoking pot regularly enough to fail three tests (and probably drinking to excess and/or using other substances), the guy most likely has a substance abuse problem. Anyone who has ever had a friend or family member who has had any kind of substance abuse problem will tell you that the problem permeates and affects every single aspect of their lives, including their performance at work or, in the case of an athlete, on the field or on the court. I’ll say it again — I guess that I am in the minority, but I think that this is a very big deal.

    If he’s doing other stuff, sure. But he very could just be smoking a whole lot of weed. Is it stupid of him? Of course, as he has to know that they test for this stuff. But come on, who ever accused JR Smith of being a smart guy? We knew what to expect from him – for all of his knuckleheadness, he still delivers on the court most of the time. The dude probably plays high a LOT.

  43. johnno

    Brian Cronin: The dude probably plays high a LOT.

    And you’re OK with that? You don’t think that he would be a better basketball player if he didn’t play high?

  44. Brian Cronin

    I think if he didn’t play high a lot, the Knicks wouldn’t be able to afford him. So I think I’d rather have an often high JR for $5 million than a sober JR playing elsewhere and the Knicks without a reliable second perimeter scorer (Who really wants the return of “Any J is okay Ray”?).

  45. daJudge

    Really amazed by some of the comments. Can’t believe people aren’t taking this seriously. The particular drug is not the issue at all, nor is the public policy. Talk about a straw man. Just wondering, how many of you folks would be happy if your doctor or lawyer or kid’s teacher was high? JR, please grow up.

  46. Brian Cronin

    If they did their job well, I wouldn’t care. JR does his job well. So I don’t care. Could he do it better? Of course. Is it irksome that he’s not better? Sure. But again, if he was better, he wouldn’t be a Knick anymore. I’m fine with knucklehead JR vs. no JR.

  47. Robert Silverman

    Z-man:

    FWIW, I think you nearly always come across as a kind, considerate, sensitive and reflective writer of articles and comments. Nothing personal intended here, and if it came across that way, I apologize.

    Thanks, Z-man. Same here

  48. johnno

    Brian Cronin: If they did their job well, I wouldn’t care.

    I had a friend in college who used to boast, “I drive great when I’m drunk.” I rode in the car once when he was drunk. Believe me, he did not “do his job well.” So, to summarize — Your kid is about to have a delicate operation and the doctor walks in looking stoned. The nurse says, “Don’t worry. He always operates stoned and hardly any of his patients die on the operating table. Maybe if he didn’t operate under the influence, he would do a little better and a couple of kids wouldn’t have died but, hey, a sober doctor is more expensive than your insurance company is willing to pay so, what the heck — let’s do it!” You’re OK with that? I guess you will also think that it’s OK when, just before the playoffs start, it is announced that JR won’t be playing because he failed yet another drug test. His brother’s quotes the other day were disturbing — something along the lines of “Hey, stuff happens. It is what it is.” I guess he’s not taking it seriously, so it’s fair to assume that JR isn’t either. I fear that this will not end well.

  49. Donnie Walsh

    daJudge:
    Just wondering, how many of you folks would be happy if your doctor or lawyer or kid’s teacher was high?

    As someone who has smoked with my doctor, my kid’s teachers, and my lawyer, I can say it makes me VERY happy! ;)

  50. Brian Cronin

    I had a friend in college who used to boast, “I drive great when I’m drunk.” I rode in the car once when he was drunk. Believe me, he did not “do his job well.” So, to summarize — Your kid is about to have a delicate operation and the doctor walks in looking stoned. The nurse says, “Don’t worry. He always operates stoned and hardly any of his patients die on the operating table. Maybe if he didn’t operate under the influence, he would do a little better and a couple of kids wouldn’t have died but, hey, a sober doctor is more expensive than your insurance company is willing to pay so, what the heck — let’s do it!” You’re OK with that? I guess you will also think that it’s OK when, just before the playoffs start, it is announced that JR won’t be playing because he failed yet another drug test. His brother’s quotes the other day were disturbing — something along the lines of “Hey, stuff happens. It is what it is.” I guess he’s not taking it seriously, so it’s fair to assume that JR isn’t either. I fear that this will not end well.

    Weed =/= alcohol. I agree that I wouldn’t trust an alcoholic. I have no problem trusting a dude who smokes weed a lot.

  51. daJudge

    Brian, you should have a problem trusting a stoner behind the wheel. Respectfully, I think you are floating a really, really bad message. Of course, this is just my opinion, but please check this out from NIH:

    Marijuana

    THC affects areas of the brain that control the body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment, as well as sensations. Because these effects are multifaceted, more research is required to understand marijuana’s impact on the ability of drivers to react to complex and unpredictable situations. However, we do know that—

    A meta-analysis of approximately 60 experimental studies—including laboratory, driving simulator, and on-road experiments—found that behavioral and cognitive skills related to driving performance were impaired in a dose-dependent fashion with increasing THC blood levels.12
    Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver’s attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.
    A study of over 3,000 fatally injured drivers in Australia showed that when marijuana was present in the blood of the driver, he or she was much more likely to be at fault for the accident. Additionally, the higher the THC concentration, the more likely the driver was to be culpable.13
    Research shows that impairment increases significantly when marijuana use is combined with alcohol.14 Studies have found that many drivers who test positive for alcohol also test positive for THC, making it clear that drinking and drugged driving are often linked behaviors.

    Thanks for keeping an open mind on this issue.

  52. Donnie Walsh

    daJudge:
    please check this out from NIH:
    Thanks for keeping an open mind on this issue.

    The problem with the NIH is that it is working with a combination of biased and/or antiquated information. Here is a summary of all the known tests on the subject.

    http://michiganmedicalmarijuana.org/topic/22650-marijuana-and-driving-a-review-of-the-scientific-evidence/

    One conclusion was plainly stated: “crash culpability studies have failed to demonstrate that drivers with cannabinoids in the blood are significantly more likely than drug-free drivers to be culpable in road crashes.”

    *

    Dr. Sanjay Goupta recently did a 180 from his opposition to marijuana. He says “I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency,” adding that “we have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana

    *

    Finally, an unrelated study concluded that marijuana opponents tend to site per-game basketball stats, while proponents of its legalization prefer advanced metrics.

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