DUI: a new trend in the NBA

Steroids, human growth hormones and cannabis. Whats next you ask? Well, if youre a professional athlete, then its have drink and travel.

photo/Miami Herald

The NBAs 2008-09 campaign has since dished up several acts of driving under the influence; apparently the newest form of off-court insubordination. Three basketball stars, from the past and present, have fallen prey to the DUI bug, not surprisingly, all three occurrences falling during the Christmas and New Years break. How do you like them role models now?

This all actually began months before the holiday season in April 2008, when Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony was dealt a DUI charge in Denver, Colorado. The infraction occurred right after the Nuggets fell to the Utah Jazz, the same game Anthony was called for a flagrant foul against Jazz point guard Deron Williams.

Melos faux pas during the tail end of last season was only the beginning of things to come. This season, on Dec. 21 2008, Phoenix Suns guard Jason Richardson swerved right into an American tribal community in Phoenix, Arizona. One breathalyzer test later, he was charged for driving under the influence of alcohol. This, just after he was traded from the Golden State Warriors.

Richardson was a little more remorseful than Melo of course. The only thing I really have to say is, I just want to apologize for the distraction to my teammates, to the Suns organization, especially the fans, said Richardson after a team practice. Its a distraction going on, but Im just going to let the judicial system take its course.

Now Richardson is a man of morals and values, one of the standouts in the game of basketball. But you can be sure he didnt mind it so much when the Suns management voided the incident and allowed him to keep his starting position.

Former Suns star-turned-sportscaster Charles Barkley was the next to fall in 2009s DUI trend. On Dec 31, the 45-year old was pulled over in Scottsdale, Arizona for speeding. Reeking of booze, Barkley later tested for 0.149 alcohol content in his system, double the Arizona limit. Barkley has since been on a leave of absence from his cable network, Turner Sports.

This is an important time for Charles as he deals with the legal and personal issues that confront him, said David Levy, president of Turner Sports. Charles is a valued part of the Turner Sports organization, and we are concerned for his well-being.

Next up was former Miami Heat star Antoine Walker who was pulled over at 5:39 a.m. in Miami for swerving into open lanes with no headlights on. Walker was reported to have been drinking heavily throughout the night, and also refused a breathalyzer test.

Last season, Walker played 46 games with the Minnesota Timberwolves before getting transferred to the Memphis Grizzles, where he was bought out and placed on free agency. This was the only incident to receive official and open reprimanding from the NBA, and it is unlikely well see Walker back on the court anytime soon.

Favoritism still lingers through the NBA, with the elite able to pass over any obstacles that would affect their reigning careers. Barkley and Richardson are valued members to each of their organizations, and this has paddled them to continue on their jobs as athletes, analysts and icons. The only reason Walker was punished for his incident is because of his separation from the league. He brings no merit or problem to the NBA since he is not directly involved with the current campaign.

No NBA official has publicly stated any consequence or good judgment about the current trend. It seems as if nothing will be done. Can we expect more of this trend as the season progresses? Definitely. Rules and professionalism is not set until consequences are aligned with each misdemeanor. Good luck to the young fans growing up to become basketball stars

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