Rashard Lewis' Apology Right on the Money

Jake LloydCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Rashard Lewis #9 of the Orlando Magic takes a jump shot against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won 99-86. NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Thursday was not a good day for Orlando Magic small forward Rashard Lewis.

The man who helped the Magic to the NBA Finals was suspended 10 games by the NBA for testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone.

But Thursday was also a good day for Lewis, in that he went about facing the suspension in the right way—and next spring, when the Magic are battling in the playoffs, no one will give a flying hoot about the suspension or even remember, for that matter, that the dude had some extra testosterone.

And if Lewis has a long, successful career, I doubt Thursday will keep him from being strongly considered for the Basketball Hall-of-Fame in Springfield, Mass.

If only baseball players, the whole lot of the accused, could look at Lewis' reaction to his positive test, get a Back to the Future car, and unravel all the damage they've done to their careers and legacies through lies and denials.

Lewis, unlike the countless famous sluggers in the MLB, came out and said exactly what happened—he took an over-the-counter supplement late last season that contained a substance he didn't know was banned by the league.

I, for one, believe his explanation.

What he did, of course, was extremely stupid. Any professional athlete worth millions should know about the risks associated with such a substance. Heck, they should just stay away from over-the-counter supplements, period.

But Lewis bit the bullet, swallowed his pride, and admitted his fault. And that will, no doubt, help him in the court of public opinion. Once he's served his suspension, people will quickly forget about what happened.

He's helped by the NBA's reputation of being a PEDs-free league. We only hear, really, about maybe one player a year, usually a bit player, testing positive for something. Lewis is the biggest-name who's been linked thus far.

Because of the league's rep, it's easier to believe that Lewis didn't know exactly what he was doing. And it's easier to accept that his apology is genuine, unlike the crap we hear from most baseball players.

"I hope every athlete can learn from my mistake that supplements, no matter how innocent they seem, should only be taken after consulting an expert in the field," Lewis said in his statement.

Warning other athletes? Not hiding behind his agent?

It's a new approach that we haven't seen from baseball players.

Let's not forget that when Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and others were taking supplements, the PEDs weren't banned by Major League Baseball.

If they had just come out and admitted what they'd done and said it was wrong, that they had made a mistake, they might not be in such hot water with hordes of baseball fans, not to mention Hall-of-Fame voters.

That's what lying and denying will do.

Rashard Lewis doesn't deserve a free pass on this one. That's why he's getting docked 10 games, $1.6 million.

But his solid reputation should remain intact, as will the NBA's, as a mostly PEDs-free league (for now), thanks in part to how he handled making an error in judgment.

If only baseball's steroid users had taken a similar approach, they might not be so reviled. Their mistakes might, actually, be distant memories.