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11/13/2006 08:10:00 AM
A Greek Tragedy
Brad Buckman didn't expect to be back in Austin again this year.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
I'm aware that the season has started -- I endured about 20 minutes of a riveting Citadel-Michigan State tilt on GamePlan yesterday -- but today's blog isn't about a current player. The topic is former Texas forward Brad Buckman, who was sitting in the stands for the Longhorns' 92-66 rout of Chicago State on Friday night. The previous day, he signed with the NBDL's Austin Toros (otherwise known as the team Darius Washington Jr. left Memphis early for) as a locally allocated player. And why should you care about that?
You should care -- and sympathize with Buckman -- because he's had a strange past few months. The D-League wasn't where he expected to be playing his first year of pro basketball. Not because he believed he'd be in an NBA starting lineup, either: After playing on the Mavericks' summer team, he inked a one-year deal in August with Olimpia Larissa in Greece's A-1 league. It was a nice, six-figure contract in one of Europe's elite divisions, which he told the Austin American-Statesman would be "a great opportunity."
Then, on Oct. 27, this short news item appeared on eurobasket.com: "The Greek Athletic court decided to suspend for two years from the Greek league Brad Buckman (203-F-84, college: Texas) because they found him guilty for using illegal drugs. Olimpia Larisa will release him and search for a new player.
It was a puzzling report, considering that Buckman never had any drug issues in his four years as a Texas starter. And then the whole story came out: He had tested positive for Adderall, an attention deficit disorder drug his father said Buckman had been taking, with a prescription, since middle school. It registered as an amphetamine in the Greek league's tests. "When he got over there, [Brad] was told to make sure he tells someone on the team [about the medicine]," Brent Buckman told the American-Statesman. "For whatever reason, he didn't do it. That's when the problem started. I think he's so naive. He figured if a doctor prescribed it, it's good."
The Greeks have basketball smarts. They managed to upset the latest incarnation of the U.S. Dream Team in this summer's World Championships without a single NBA player on their roster. But when it comes to common sense, the heads of Greece's A-1 league are severely lacking. They stubbornly ignored Buckman's explanation and effectively booted him from the league.
Now, Adderall isn't as innocuous as say, Claritin. It's often illegally sold on college campuses as an exam-cramming aid or party stimulant, and could feasibly be used as a "greenie" of sorts for athletics. But Buckman wasn't getting his on the black market. He was a prescription user who was treating ADD. If anything, he may have warranted a one-game suspension for failing to disclose it. But a two-year ban on the eve of his first pro season? That was cruel and unusual punishment.
Buckman's agent, Keith Glass, told the American-Statesman, "I thought that if they had any human beings on the [Greek] court, they'd give him a short suspension. But they were bureaucrats who followed the letter of the law. I'm a lawyer, and intent is important. He had no intent to hide anything." Glass also called the suspension a "joke."
So Buckman finds himself back in U.S., which isn't all bad. He'll be under closer watch by the NBA, and is playing pro ball in Austin, where he went to high school and college. Where the suspension hurts most is on the bottom line. As quality American player, his Greek contract could have been worth around $150,000, plus free housing. The average NBDL contract, meanwhile, is reportedly a paltry $35,000. Buckman may have lost six figures over a medicinal misunderstanding. And that's an infuriatingly raw deal.
That is tough for Buckman. It sounds like he is getting the short end of the stick on this one. Should he give up having a functional brain, or get the chance to compete in the sport he has worked so hard at for so long? Hmm Tough call. One the flip side, It is hard to argue with athletic bodies that are trying to keep doping out of sports. If they allow Buckman in with uppers and ADD, how soon before a whole wave of athletes are diagnosed with ADD and test positive for uppers.
There may be no fair solution to this. It may turn out that to keep the playing field even, all athletes will be required to take a powerful combination of dangerous performance enhancing drugs. In this way noone will have an advantage, because everyone will be juiced. Of course, even this course of action wouldn't be fair to the athletes that die unnecesarily.
Are you kidding me? Have any of you ever taken Adderal? I use it daily for ADD and wow did I wish it have an affect on my ability to play sports...Adderal is no substitute for practice and hardwork, a steriod, sure, Adderal, no way bud. This kid got screwed...however he should have told someone about it, hope things work out for him tho
Yeah, it' sad and it sucks for Buckman... but he should have told them BEFORE he even moved over there! His father even told him to let the team know beforehand, and what? He forgot? It seems excessive, but something tells me if he had disclosed it beforehand and proved his prescription and if need be could show records that he had been taking it since childhood they would have been more lenient. I mean, if I'm going to take a drug test (and I have for my job), I am going to let them know about ANYTHING that might be in my system so there is no misunderstanding.
Maybe, irony of ironies, BB was momentarily off the Adderall, which caused him to lose focus on relating something important, i.e., he was using Adderall, which caused the Greeks to suspend him after he tested positive for amphetamines. Maybe instead of using Adderall, he could ask Bobby Knight to slap some sense into him.