By: Rich Levine
The Derrick Rose story died down pretty quickly. In fact, if you were off-the-grid for whatever reason on Sunday, theres a good chance you missed the Rose saga all together. So heres a quick recap:
Basically, earlier this season, the Bulls point guard was asked a question about performance enhancing drugs in the NBA.
The question (by a reporter from ESPN the Magazine) was: "If 1 equals 'What are PEDs'? and 10 equals 'Everybody's Juicing' How big of an issue is illegal enhancing in your sport?"
To that, Roses quoted as saying: "Seven. It's huge, and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person."
You can see why this would be a big deal
Anyway, the quote finally hit the mainstream on Sunday, and it picked up some media momentum. Pressed for a response, Rose released a statement that afternoon denying the story. He didnt recall being asked or answering the question. And in the event that he actually said those words, it was just a misunderstanding. He just didnt get the question.
He added: "But, let me be clear, I do not believe there is a performance enhancing drug problem in the NBA."
At the same time, there were numerous others defending Rose. A Bulls spokesman told CBS Sports that Rose would never say anything like that. Another source suggested Rose thought he was being asked how important it was for sports, in general, to be PED-free. That same CBS story cites a person close to Rose saying that he believed he was being asked,"How big of a problem would it be if steroid use were rampant in the NBA?
And that was sort of that. With the MVPs denial, and other reports (however contradictory they may have been), the Derrick Rose portion of this story essentially came to an end.
What else was there? Maybe theres an audio file of his answer, but even then theres no way to prove whether or not Rose understood the question. Its a lost cause. Why not just give Rose the benefit of the doubt and move on?
And thats pretty much what happened. Panic's been replaced by mild speculation, and the story's begun to fade. In the post game press conference on Sunday, PEDs didnt come up once.
One thing that helped: ESPN.com barely touched the story. It never made their home page, or was featured prominently on their NBA page. You know why they did it, but they did. ESPN may have started this with their magazine, but they were never going to perpetuate it. Instead, they buried it. And now, its essentially buried.
Still, theres one thing about this story that Ill always remember.
When I heard that Derrick Rose thought the NBA had a PED problem, my first instinct wasnt, No way! That cant be true! It was far more grim. Far more accepting. Basically, I believed it.
Was I disappointed? Sure, but nothing like that surprises me anymore. And yes, I know that the NBA tests four times a year, but its a player friendly system. Are we really that nave to think that athletes won't do something against the rules if it helps them win?
At some point over the last five years, every NBA fan has had the PED thought cross their mind at least once. Just a simple, You know, I wonder or something more than that. Theres the fact that some of these guys are now are bigger and stronger than just about any human being weve ever seen. There's the fact that Rashard Lewis got busted on PEDs two years ago and then saw his career fall off a cliff.
PEDs exist in this game. We know that. I dont think theres ever been a question that they're "around." But with the NBA, we just didnt know how bad or who, or for how long.
And we still dont.
With Roses retraction in the tank and back out of the publics eye, the PED issue will probably die back down again in the next few days. And maybe thats how it should be. Considering all the garbage thats going on in the NFL, and will go on in the NBA, its crazy to waste time talking about an issue like that while the Playoffs are in full swing, the drafts on the horizon. So for now, we're free to sit back and forget the whole thing ever happened. And hopefully it will stay that way.