Donovan Mitchell scored 71 points on Monday, that’s a lot. Photo: Getty Images
In one of the NBA’s more striking timelines, the Cleveland Cavs were “accidentally” tested for drugs just hours after Donovan Mitchell’s 71-point performance Monday night. It feels all too convenient for the association to “randomly” test the Cavs on performance-enhancing drugs a day after Mitchell scored the most points in a game since Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance in 2006.
We regularly see so many individual high score totals in the NBA, but this time a team is “randomly” tested for PEDs. You would be foolish not to wonder about the validity of this round of testing after Mitchell’s career play. It’s not like he was a struggling player for five years in the league and then suddenly BAM! Out of nowhere, he scored more points in a single game than Michael Jordan or LeBron James ever did. Spida isn’t one of those guys, but he’s been one of the better young stars in this league since he came on in 17.
Set a new precedent
Saying that these specific tests were random will only make people wonder how “random” these tests even are. Luka Dončić scored 60 points just days before Spida’s career high and the next day there was no news of any random tests for the Mavs. Dončić is held in higher regard in the NBA and by fans, but facts are facts.
Last March we saw Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving drop 50 point gems back to back. Irving scored 60 points in his game against Orlando and had another 50 point game a week earlier. No random tests have been reported after those games, and certainly not after the duo’s back-to-back masterpieces. Not to say the league is targeting anyone, but the timing here is odd enough to be questioned.
Spoiled by testing
Mitchell’s amazing game is now tainted, if only a little, due to subsequent testing. Most of us don’t think he’s using banned substances, but there’s always that doubt that creeps in when we hear the word PEDs in relation to professional athletes. It’s not as prevalent in basketball as it is in baseball or football, but it’s undoubtedly a trigger for most when the acronym is pronounced.
When it comes to PED use, basketball players are the last to engage in conversations about athletes and banned substances. But the NBA has had its share of players test positive for drugs on its PED list. Rashard Lewis is the name many remember when he was slammed in 2009 and missed 10 games. In 2019, Deandre Ayton, John Collins and Wilson Chandler were suspended for violating the NBA’s PED policy. Whether they were arrested intentionally or claimed to have been unintentional, they were caught and suspended.
Although there is a problem with substance abuse in the NBA and in society in general at times, the timing of Mitchell’s tests is too odd. Hopefully there is nothing for Spida or any of his teammates to derail from their great season. The Cavs currently sit fourth, just a few games from first place in a loaded Eastern Conference.