NBA ramping up their steroid testing?

NBA ramping up their steroid testing?

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."

Steelers descending into disarray?

Steelers descending into disarray?

Less than 48 hours removed from openly wondering if the AFC Championship Game stage was “too big” for some of his young teammates, Ben Roethlisberger has decided to play the latter-day Hamlet/Brett Favre game.

Speaking on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger hinted at retirement.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

The soon-to-be-35-year-old Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer who’s still arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But for whatever reason, he’s got an insatiable need for people to register concern about his status. Whether it be limping around the field, lamenting injuries or this, few quarterbacks in the league go through the same histrionics Roethlisberger does in order to get those, “Attaboy, Ben!” backslaps.

I remember being at Steelers training camp in 2009 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and having veteran Steelers writers roll their eyes as Roethlisberger started hopping around like he was on hot coals after a throw. The quarterback having an owie act was a daily tradition.

Roethlisberger’s also got a passive aggressive side in which he’ll deftly twist the knife on coaches and teammates but leave himself enough room for plausible deniability.

In addition to openly wondering if his young teammates took the AFC Championship Game seriously enough, Roethlisberger gave the “just running the plays as I’m told” answer when asked about the Steelers resistance to running a quarterback sneak when they were at the Patriots goal line before halftime. Roethlisberger could have taken offensive coordinator Todd Haley off the hook there – he’s lobbied for Haley to get a head coaching shot after the two had a bad relationship when Haley arrived. But he opted not to.

Similarly, earlier this year, Roethlisberger’s critiques of the way head coach Mike Tomlin was running the team were aired. 

So, this could be part of a Roethlisberger power play aimed at the Steelers bowing to his wishes.

That wasn’t the only tidbit from Pittsburgh that looked bad for the AFC finalists. Linebacker Bud Dupree said the Steelers were surprised by the Patriots using an up-tempo offense earlier in the game. 

Do they not have electricity or internet access in the Steelers facility? Up-tempo is a staple part of the Patriots offensive diet. You can see it on the television or the internet through your smart phone.

While there’s no doubt that defensive coordinator Keith Butler – and defensive minded head coach Tomlin – were aware and talked about the Patriots going no-huddle, the fact Dupree (and his teammates) were unable to recall the preparation or adequately fall into an emergency plan to address it does fall on the coaches.

Need more? It’s also being leaked out of the building that Antonio Brown cares too much about his statistics. He made clear last week how much he cares about advancing his personal brand at the expense of Tomlin and the team with his Facebook Live video. 

If there’s an upside for anyone in all this, it would have to be Joey Porter. Nobody’s even talking about his off-field fracas anymore.

As this season ably demonstrated, the Patriots have plum run out of authentic rivals in the AFC. That the team they just pulverized is steamrolling into an offseason of dysfunction and uncertainty isn't good if you like parity. But it's terrific if you couldn't care less.