From Comcast SportsNetMINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The NBA for the most part has managed to avoid the major performance-enhancing drug scandals that have plagued the NFL and Major League Baseball over the last decade. Commissioner David Stern is hoping to keep it that way.Stern said on Wednesday that he thinks the NBA is on track to begin testing its players for human growth hormone, perhaps as early as next season. While the issue of PEDs, and HGH in particular, has not been perceived as a big problem in basketball, Stern said the league and players' union is trying to remain proactive to send a message that they have no place in their game."It's not a commitment, not a promise," Stern said on Wednesday before the Minnesota Timberwolves hosted the San Antonio Spurs. "It's an expectation. It might slide a little bit, but I think we're well on our way."The Associated Press left a message with the players' union seeking comment.Performance-enhancing drugs have been grabbing headlines repeatedly over the last few weeks, including Lance Armstrong's admission that he took them while winning seven Tour de France titles, allegations that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis used deer antler spray to aid his comeback from a torn triceps muscle this season and former NL MVP Ryan Braun being linked to a Florida clinic being investigated by MLB. Both Lewis and Braun have denied using banned substances.The instances of steroid scandals in the NBA have been few and far between, with one of the most notable being former All-Star Rashard Lewis' 10-game suspension in 2009. Stern credited the players' willingness to accept testing and continue modifying the list of banned substances for basketball's relatively clean record."Our players have, as a group, said we want to be demonstrably free of drugs as much as any group of athletes in the world," Stern said, "and I think they've kept that pledge."Both baseball and football have been working to incorporate a reliable test for HGH into their testing procedures. The NBA is watching those proceedings, and Stern believes they will follow suit."If they get through what I think they're going to get through and have full-fledged testing, based upon our overall dialogue with the union, we'll be in a good place to have that as well for next season," he said.Stern spoke on a variety of topics during his 25-minute session with reporters. He planned to meet with Minneapolis officials on Thursday to discuss the progress on renovations of the Target Center. As part of a bill that helped fund a new Vikings stadium that was passed last session, more than 150 million was set aside to completely revamp the outdated basketball arena. The progress has been slow in part because AEG, which operates and manages the building, has been slow to get into specific discussions on the plan.Stern said he has been in contact with AEG officials and was confident things are headed in the right direction.He also said he initially approached Wolves owner Glen Taylor about developing a succession plan. Taylor has been entertaining offers while making it clear that he wants to stay on as owner for the near future."I think Glen is not what you would call an anxious seller," Stern said. "Sometimes I think he might have seller's remorse even though he hasn't sold it because he loves the team and he loves what it does for the community. I do believe he is in the midst of at least a thought process that is going to find him at some point in the future, not immediately."Stern also begrudgingly acknowledged that the league is approaching the day when sponsors will have their names on jerseys. He lamented the situation with international soccer clubs, who feature the logos of sponsors and sometimes don't even have the team's name anywhere in sight."They've completely, in my view, mucked up," Stern said. "We're talking about a two and a half inch patch. I recognize that once you start, you're on the trail. But, you know, players get half of it."He said he has sat on the sideline of such discussions because he has been proud the NBA has not allowed sponsors -- or even the logo of the uniform manufacturer -- to grace the jerseys."There is a revenue opportunity, and as so often is the case, taking advantage of that becomes a separate discussion," Stern said. "Yes, I think it will happen. It's not going to happen this season; it's not going to happen next season."
WALTHAM -- The national anthem protests by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have had an undeniable ripple effect on professional sports teams across the country. And that includes the Boston Celtics.
“We as an organization know what’s going on,” said Marcus Smart. “We read and see and hear about it every day. It’s a sensitive subject for everybody.”
While it’s unlikely that Celtics players will do something similar to Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, there’s no question some are figuring out the best way to utilize their platform as athletes to express their views on current social issues.
“Us athletes have to take advantage of the stage we’re on,” said Jae Crowder. “Try to make a positive out it. You can’t fix negative problems with negative energy. I don’t want to do anything negative; I want to do something positive, shed light on the situation.”
Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, and a number of professional athletes have tried to have more attention paid to recent killings of African-Americans by police officers where, based on the video footage, it appears excessive or unnecessary force was used.
It is a topic that has brought a wide range of responses from many in the sports world, including the dean of NBA coaches, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
During the Spurs’ media day this week, he was asked about the Kaepernick’s protests.
“I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done,” Popovich told reporters. “The question is whether it will do any good or not because it seems that change really seems to happen through political pressure, no matter how you look at it.”
As examples of the political pressure he was referring to, Popovich mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ability to galvanize group, as well as the NBA and other organizations pulling their events out of the state of North Carolina because of its legislation as it relates to the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
“The important thing that Kaepernick and others have done is keep it in the conversation,” Popovich said.
And while there may be differing opinions as to whether Kaepernick or any other athlete should be protesting, the one common thread that seems to bind the Celtics players and the front office is them having the right to speak out not only as professional athletes, but Americans.
“The biggest thing is we all really value the freedoms that we have and that we’ve been allotted,” said coach Brad Stevens, who added that he has had individual discussions with players on this subject. “We certainly support an individual’s freedoms. It’s been great to engage in those discussions. It’s been really fun for me how excited our guys are about using their platform.”
And that more than anything else is why Crowder feels the Celtics have to have a united front as far as the message they present to the masses.
“If we want change we have to do it together,” Crowder said. “I feel like those guys (other athletes) used their platforms well. I think more athletes should do the same. You can’t do it with any hatred; you can’t do it with any negative. You have to do it with positive energy.”
NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.
Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.
Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.
"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."
The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.
The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.
"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."
Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.