This weekend, my best friend in the whole wide world is in town from New York, and the two of us, his wife, and our other best friend in the whold wide world and his wife have been having non-stop buddy time, so I've not been sleeping, or paying that much attention to the rest of the world. So yesterday, when I get a twitter notification from Faulkner regarding an old joke about Nick Calathes looking bigger and more muscular, I immediately dismissed it. After all, there was no other context to the tweet, no reply from anyone about anything, so I had no reason to think anything. If I'm honest, I thought Calathes must have posted a sweet ab picture to instagram or something.
GBB Playoff Coverage
GBB Playoff Coverage
The night drug on, (pun) and in between fits of laughter and games of Bread, we heard the news. "Grizzlies back-up point guard Nick Calathes has been suspended 20 games for violating the leagues anti-drug policy." What?! Obviously, the timing of this suspension is brutal. The Grizzlies were already in Oklahoma City getting ready to tip off their first round matchup with the heavily favored Oklahoma City Thunder, and they could ill-afford to be anything other than 100%. It may not sound like much to lose a guy who only accounts for about 11-12 points per game, but when you're a team like the Grizzlies, a team that doesn't score 100 points per game, facing a team like the Thunder, who score points in droves, that's a pretty big blow.
Nick is far from the best player on the team, but his absence will be felt. Over the next few days, you're going to be getting a lot of articles about how the Grizzlies respond, and what line-ups and rotations will look like. This will not be one of them. Right now, I just want to turn our chairs around and sit informally and just rap for a little bit. Call it feelings hour if you want to, but I just want to dive into what my initial and continued reaction is, and how we should feel as fans.
Let's take a ride. Now, the first thing to keep in mind is, Nick Calathes did not test positive for performance enhancing drugs. There was no trace of steroids, human growth, Michael's Secret Stuff, the mutant X gene, natural growing hair, or anything else in his system. What he tested positive for was Tamoxifen.
After a couple quick internet searches and a brief chat with my medically educated mother, you learn that tamoxifen is drug taken predomenately taken by women in situations where breast cancer is found. It's other uses include treatment for bi-polar disorder, infertility in women, and the masking of HGH.
GBB Playoff Coverage
GBB Playoff Coverage
Now, despite what Calathes' harshest critics would have you believe, he's definitely not an infertile woman. I've no personal knowledge of Nick, but I've never heard anything about him being bipolar. So immediately, we are forced into a situation where the only "logical" excuse is that Calathes was cheating.
If you're a baseball fan like I am, you know that athletes who are suspended for drugs are guilty until proven innocent. Many of you know how much I love baseball, and it's not unroutine for me to watch two or three different baseball games a day (which in case you were wondering, was definitely a cry for help). More than that, I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and Barry Bonds broke* Hank Aaron's homerun record on my birthday, so believe me when I say I have very little tolerance for drug cheats.
Is that what Calathes is? Think about how bad, how truly awful he was at the beginning of the season, and think about what a solid rotation player he is now. If you were to find out that Calathes was busted for PEDs, wouldn't you, if only for a moment, say to yourself, "You know what, that makes sense..." The problem is, as the fallout from the suspension continues, more information continues to trickle out, and all of it paints Calathes as innocent.
As a source told Yahoo! Sports, "lab results found no traces of synthetic testosterone or PED" and "there was no intent, nor advantage gained here." In addition to this, the NBA Player's Assosciation acting executive director, who admittedly is always going to side with the players, called the suspension a true injustice.
So is Nick Calathes a cheater? Did the booing from fans get to him, force him into desperate measures to get better? Or is this all just a big misunderstanding? What should we believe?
Obviously, there are only two scenarios here: either Calathes was taking HGH or some sort of PED or he was not. This is a pregnancy situation, where you either are or you're not, not a scenario where you try to determine what quality of actor Nicolas Cage is. If, and this is a big if, if it comes out that Calathes was taking any sort of PED, or he confesses, or worse, he's caught and refuses to confess, I'm going to be very angry. I'll be angry at him, angry at the ever revolving door that is the Grizzlies' back-up point guard position, angry that 14,000 fans chose to boo him simply for getting put into a game. Just angry.
And if, God forbid if, Calthes is found guilty of performance enhancing drugs, then I'm washing my hands of him, hashtag "Let's Go Nick" be damned. Until such time as that happens, every Grizzlies' fan owes it to Nick, the city, and the organization to put down their stones and their torches and pitchforks and stand behind him.
We need to believe Nick is innocent and not just condem him with great swiftness because several athletes before him were ignorant and beligerent when it comes to cheating.
We need to believe him because, as it currently is being reported, there is no trace of performane enhancing drugs in his system. (Which may just be a great testament to tamoxifen, who knows.)
We need to believe him because he's a Grizzly, and his part of our team and community. A wise man once said don't judge so you aren't judged, and I tend to agree with that. There will be a time when the entirety of the truth comes out, even if it most likely will be long after the Grizzlies' season ends. For now, we wait, angry and slighted, nervously anticipating Game 2 of our first round playoff matchup that is a mere hours away, crossing our fingers Nicky Buckets to be freed, and thanking God for Beno Udrih.