Former NBA head coach George Karl recently released his tell-all book, “My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection.” The book has immediately caused multiple controversies, mainly around comments Karl made about multiple players he coached and their relationships with their fathers.
Lost in Karl’s passive-aggressive racism is one particularly damning nugget about the use of performance enhancing drugs in the NBA. Karl suggests that the NBA has a widespread PED issue that is not being addressed, and, in the below passage, seems to imply that former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant was one of the guilty parties.
We’ve got a more thorough drug-testing program than the NFL or MLB, which we always brag about. But we’ve still got a drug issue, though a different one than thirty years ago. And this one bothers me more than the dumbasses who got in trouble with recreational drugs.
“I’m talking about performance-enhancing drugs—like steroids, human growth hormone, and so on. It’s obvious some of our players are doping. How are some guys getting older—yet thinner and fitter? How are they recovering from injuries so fast? Why the hell are they going to Germany in the off-season? I doubt it’s for the sauerkraut.
“More likely it’s for the newest, hard-to-detect blood boosters and PEDs they have in Europe. Unfortunately, drug testing always seems to be a couple steps behind drug hiding. Lance Armstrong never failed a drug test. I think we want the best athletes to succeed, not the biggest, richest cheaters employing the best scientists. But I don’t know what to do about it.”
It seems to be a pretty blatant shot at Bryant when Karl writes, “Why the hell are they going to Germany in the off-season?” Kobe pretty famously extended his career with an experimental surgery only allowed in Germany. Other players have done this as well, but I’m sure Karl realized who would come to mind when he used that phrase.
As bitter and irritating as Karl obviously is, he is probably right about this. The NBA has only had a handful of PED-related suspensions over the last decade, and none of them have been of high-profile players. It is pretty hard to believe that, with all of the massive PED use happening across the sports world, 99 percent of NBA players have chosen to abstain. Especially someone as viciously competitive as Kobe Bryant.