Skip to content

Rose denies saying PEDs a “huge” NBA problem

May 22, 2011, 2:55 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Two Getty Images

UPDATE 2:55 pm: Through a Bulls spokesman, Rose has denied saying that PEDs are a huge NBA issue. He said that the question was phrased differently, more along the lines of how big a problem would it be if the NBA were rampant with steroids.

Just having been around the league, this is not an issue that really comes up. That doesn’t mean it’s not an issue, and that some players aren’t using, but there is a lot of testing by the league and it just does not feel rampant.

We will update as the story develops.


1:15 pm: The conventional wisdom has been that performance enhancing drugs have not been an issue in the NBA — bulk strength is not considered as important as speed in the NBA, and there have only been a couple of guys who have tested positive for anything on the banned list (O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies had a 10-game suspension at the start of this season).

But the league’s MVP Derrick Rose tells ESPN Magazine that performance enhancing drugs are a “huge” problem in the NBA and one the league needs to get more serious about. (via the IB Times of San Francisco and CBS Sports Eye On Basketball).

Rose was asked the following question by ESPN the Magazine, “If 1 equals ‘What are PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs)’? and 10 equals ‘Everybody’s Juicing’…How big of an issue is illegal enhancing in your sport?”

In response, Rose said, “Seven. It’s huge, and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person.”

This comment flies in the face of what pretty much every league official, team official and virtually every player asked about the issue has said. David Stern before congress, LeBron James in interviews, union officials have all said that the NBA did not have a culture of PED usage and it was not an issue.

In a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference a couple years ago, then Suns executive Steve Kerr talked about the great concerns teams have wanting to monitor everything that players take as supplements to keep them from taking something on the banned list.

But we all also know there are designer drugs out there that can escape detection. During the long grind of the NBA season, a drug that could help a player recover more quickly would be a huge advantage.

These comments will thrust the issue back into the spotlight, and it will not become another issue that is part of the ongoing (and already contentious Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations).

  1. mondzy805 - May 22, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I think Derrick is spot on, on this issue. I tend to think of it as cheating in cycling, endurance.

  2. zblott - May 22, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    We shouldn’t be shocked by this. Guys in the league are always trying to get stronger and recover quicker. Most players are often hurt in some capacity yet still working out, so it doesn’t take a genius to realize PED’s would help make this easier. Plus older players are playing through more pains and recovering quicker than ever before, even with more games being played. Either all of these guys have developed super-human recovery genes over the past generation or the problem that currently plagues every other sport (cyclists don’t need a lot of muscle mass – didn’t stop their PED use) also exists in the NBA (see also: OJ Mayo).

  3. jstrizzle - May 22, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    This is the last thing I wanted to hear. Maybe I was too ignorant in thinking that it wasn’t that big a problem in the NBA. I would love to see a level playing field like Rose says too but that takes a lot of work. The Lebron name dropped seems a bit odd. I am waiting for a commenter to say he is on PEDs.

    (Check out my sports blog

    • tubal22 - May 22, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      Maybe instead of hawking your blog over every national blog, you should invest in some SEO. Most people would consider this spam, and won’t take anything you have to say seriously.

      • jstrizzle - May 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        Sorry not trying to spam. I usually comment on most stories as I am a huge basketball fan. And if someone comments I’ll reply or reply if they comment on something I wrote. That is why I put in parenthesis to try and be blatantly less annoying. Obviously that failed.

        With that said I hate the way sports is turning with PEDs problems throughout. Mainly because it is getting to the point if someone does something awesome or has a great year in the back of your head you are thinking if he is on steroids or not. I want that to go away but I fear it never will.

  4. chicago240 - May 22, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    The list is long so I apologize for singling out, but am I the only one that looks at Dwight Howard taking a free throw and ask myself how can a guy look like that?? I know, I know. He and hordes of others “work out” in the gym tirelessly but it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the NBA to do a better job policing rather than watch their sport follow baseball down a bad path….if it hasn’t already. Maybe Howard is a freak and God gifted him that physique but there seem to be a lot of players out there that you just scratch your head and wonder.

  5. chargerdillon - May 22, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Not smart Derrick…… It’s great that you’re young and can probably be as talented as you need to be being so young…. but you just made yourself out to be the bad guy for the rest of the NBA

    If a player is willing to say from 1-10 the problem is a 7, that means it’s probably closer to a 10, and it also means EVERYBODY IN EVERY LOCKER ROOM, knows whats going on.

    So while Derrick looks like Mr. Honest right now, when he hits his mid 20’s and doesnt have that same step and because he’s just as competetive as every other superstar out there, he’ll do what he needs for that edge to keep him going.

    It’s the reality of sports in the USA today. It’s all about the next edge Bonds, Armstrong, Steelers of the 70’s (best team steroids can buy was their moniker), every footballer who plays the game just about

    People who are ignorant to the real game at hand will always be naive. If Derrick were really wise, he wouldve said “No Comment”

  6. frankvzappa - May 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Who really cares if NBA players are juicing? The NBA is just entertainment anyway, where the storyline always works out best. Just ask David Kahn or Tim Donaghy (or the FBI agents who believed him). It is a major issue in basball, because baseball is a true sport. Baseball needs a level playing field to work, while the NBA will just be more exciting with juiced players because the teams that are supposed to win will just win in a more extravagant fashion.

  7. andrejohnsonforpresident - May 22, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    20 years from now these speedy recovery drugs will be common place. If doctors are involved making sure its handed out correctly I have no problem with peds that induce a quick recovery and i dont see why anyone else would either. Using it to get stronger overall i.e. Berry bonds style is a big NO NO though.

  8. bittersonicsfan - May 22, 2011 at 4:15 PM


    I liked your blog. Well written.

    I’m scared about this drug stuff. If this turns into a baseball sized steroids problem, I don’t know how the NBA will handle drugs and a lockout. I’m being totally hypothetical here, I (obviously) have no idea. But could you imagine if Michael Jordan ended up as the NBA version of Barry Bonds?

    • jstrizzle - May 22, 2011 at 4:24 PM

      I like to think it wouldn’t affect the NBA quite like it would MLB because look at Shaq. I am not saying Shaq is on steroids at all but saying that even for as strong as he is he still isn’t a great shooter. As I write this though I am picturing Shawn Bradley with an added 60 lbs. He would have been a force inside then. However, still no jump shot. Why not just text players once a week or a few times a week or something. It sucks that is has come to this though.

      • david8726 - May 22, 2011 at 7:44 PM

        Shooting isn’t the only part of basketball, though. Adding strength means you’ll be less bothered by contact when trying to score inside and you can hold position easier when fighting for rebounds.

  9. nesuperfan - May 22, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    While steroids may not be as useful to an NBA player, EPO would still benefit them.

  10. david8726 - May 22, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    Just because you aren’t a massively ripped individual doesn’t mean you can’t be using steroids.

    Look at cycling. Those aren’t big, ripped athletes. Yet they still gained from using Steroids.

    Also, lots of steroids are more about helping athletes recover faster than normal from injuries and the normal wear and tear that comes from playing sports for a living.

    Is there steroid use in the NBA? I don’t know, but don’t think you can tell just by using your eyes.

  11. thetooloftools - May 22, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    This is LeBron James and I didn’t do notin’.

  12. progress2011 - May 22, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    Rose is not a very smart man ! ESPN took advantage of this guys lack of intellect. Of course most professional athletes use something !
    1. The body cannot take running, jumping, banging with extremely large men on hardwoods 80+ games a season.
    2. Then figure, most of these guys have been playing on hardwoods since they were teenagers. They probably have no knee cartilage. And probably suffer from disc compression in their backs from all the constant pressure.
    3. Then figure these are abnormally large men 6 – 7 feet tall, many well over 200 lbs !

    I’m totally fine with professional multi-millionaire athletes taking PEDs to elevate their performance above the average human. I mean if I were capable of performing the skills they complete on the football/ baseball fields, golf course, tennis court or basketball court…..why the heck would I pay an average of $100+ per ticket ( for a family of 4 ) to go pay to see them play.

    If an athlete wants to risk the potential side-effects of taking PEDs, so be it ! They get paid enough for all their potential risks and I pay to be ENTERTAINED !

  13. pdbro - May 23, 2011 at 8:28 AM

    I don’t understand why the media seems to think “PEDs” (I absolutely loathe that acronym) aren’t needed in basketball because players will get too bulky or too strong. Is that all you think said drugs do? Please fill me in on the “conventional wisdom” behind that line of errant thinking. There are countless variations of AAS, most all having different properties thus bringing about different results.

    I guarantee “PED” use in the NBA is rampant. The witch hunt for “PED” users needs to cease.

  14. rajbais - May 23, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    PED’s in the NBA???

    That’s like baseball without chewing tobacco!!!

  15. rajbais - May 23, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    PED’s in the NBA, what a joke!!! D-Rose is showing us why someone else needed to take the SAT for him in order to attend Memphis!!!

    Secondly, NBA players spend too much on family, jewelry, baby mommas, groupies, mansions, and shark tanks anyways!!!

    Do you think they’d ever use drugs whose names they couldn’t spell; I dunno … like HGH???

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (1977)
  2. D. Rose (1777)
  3. K. Bryant (1631)
  4. J. Smith (1552)
  5. T. Thompson (1379)
  1. K. Irving (1351)
  2. T. Wroten (1337)
  3. A. Davis (1281)
  4. F. Saunders (1248)
  5. J. Embiid (1228)