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February 14, 2008

A fine mess ...

Clemens_2 After watching part of the congressional hearings on drug and steroid use by professional athletes, I can only think of Oliver Hardy's complaint to Stan Laurel  in so many of their comedies -- "It's a fine mess you've gotten us into" -- but this mess is neither fine nor funny.

I have been a baseball fan ever since I was a toddler, and the recent disclosures made by so many players, coupled with the evasive maneuvering by others, leaves me with so my questions and a very bad smell in the air.

The most recent spectacle of Roger Clemens and his accuser is like an ugly cherry on a rotten cake.

Given the totally contradictory testimony of those questioned, we are left with one clear conclusion: Someone is lying big-time. But whom do we accuse? It would be impossible for even the most accomplished detective to sort through all of the various assertions of those who are accused or suspected. 

I've also seen the effect that the steroid craze has had on young athletes. I have been questioned a few times by aspiring athletes who want to bulk up as to how to do it and not get caught.  The message they are absorbing from all this is to cheat, lie and disregard the long-term consequences.

I spoke to former All-Pro lineman Lyle Alzado before he died. He weighed about 160 pounds and had no hair and not many teeth left. He knew that he was dying and asked me to tell any kid who would listen not to follow his path. I shed more than a few tears that evening. Lyle was a good dude who made some poor choices. 

I hope all the professional leagues make a concerted effort to get their franchises to provide role models who shun performance-enhancing drugs, something that I always avoided. 

The youth of our nation deserve no less.

photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP


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Jon K.

Clemens is lying. His personality profile and his career arc fit the character of someone who has used steroids.

1) Why would his trainer tell the truth about two other players, but lie about Clemens? It makes little sense.

2) Clemens obviously feels that he was a Hall of Famer before he began taking steroids. (He mentions winning four Cy Young awards and 200 wins before meeting his trainer.) And, thus, feels "obligated" to defend his contribution to a sport he loves.

3) Clemens has spent a lot of time working with kids. He probably feels that if his name is permentally besmirched that he will have let down all those kids and compromise their dreams. As such, he feels he has to step (by lying) for the sake of the dreams of all those kids.

4) He has a huge ego and is competitive and far be it from him to have a shady person like his trainer beat him.

The whole situation sucks. Clemens probably is going to be put up for purgory charges. He and Bonds will spend some time in prison.

One of the darker chapters in sports history.

A shame.


Why is Congress focusing on Clemens? 87 other players were "indicted" in the Mitchell report, why has nothing happened to them? This is a witch hunt and Congress is wasting taxpayer money basking in the glory. Besides, McNamee is far more guilty than Clemens since he was the dealer distributing this stuff.

What Congress SHOULD do is focus on the future, spend the resources developing tests that successfully detect steroid and HGH use, then make sure baseball implements and thorough and unbiased testing program.

Or maybe Congress can figure out why they are providing $300 tax rebates to people who DON'T PAY TAXES IN THE FIRST PLACE!?! That's MY money they're giving away!

Ralph Selway

The commissioner should also be seated before the congress answering questions. He had authority to step in and stop this before it got out of hand and didn't. It occured to me the other day as I watched some of this testimony what it may have been like during the "black socks" scandle.

If Roger is innocent then is a shame he is being tried this way. If he is guilty then admit it, teach others and move on. Of course the issue is no longer just the roids, now it may be perjury too.

It's reassuring to see responsible sports and community leaders such as KAJ speaking out on this topic so that kids might weight the consequences associated with taking substances that may have a harmful affects long term vs. short term benefits.

Jon K.


He's the greatest pitcher of our generation. With that position of fame and honor comes greater scrutiny. It's the nature of the beast.

He also is CLEARLY unrepentant. Andy Pettite admitted it and people revere him as a result as a "stand up guy". Clemens is getting what he deserves because he wants to be revered as a non-cheater despite cheating.

And Sydney, regarding the tax refunds... these people paid taxes in different regards because everything is taxed on some level in some level in this society even if they didn't pay income taxes.

This a stimulus package which uses the force of multiplicity. You give money to people who have lots of money and they save it or invest it.

You give money to people who don't have a lot of money and they spend it (because they need to). That spending of money stimulates the economy. Because the store where they spent the money, can now use that additional funds to buy more goods and pay more employees and then those companies (and employees) take those funds and spend it to buy more goods, or hire hire more employees or buy more equipment...

And the line moves onwards.

That's why if you want to truly stimulate the economy, you give more money to the people on the bottom.

So, you can be all upset about the government "giving your money away," but to me you just come across as another reactionary Rush Limbaugh syncophant who knows nothing about macro-economics.



Thanks for being so much more than just an athlete. While I'm sure it was a natural choice for you to do so, it still deserves recognition.

Johnny Dich

I just found out recently that you started your own blog. As I read each entry, I was blown away about how insightful you were and then I stumbled upon your blog entry at speaking at a college campus, sorry I'm a little late on that.

I'm a teacher a Calabasas Elementary located in Watsonville (near Santa Cruz). I teach 5th grade and we've been learning about different cultures. Many of my students come from broken families and I can see that some of them need more encouragement to pursue a goal and prosperous future. When I saw your blog entry about speaking at a university, I knew I had to try to contact you some way and invite you to my class to encourage and inspire them to work hard in school and aim high.

I know this is a long shot and you are a very busy man, but it would mean the world to the students and I if you can come and shed some light on them to pursue a better future.

You can reach me at this email:

Eric of Reseda

I find it simply amazing that this nation is even TALKING about performance-enhancing substances to the extent that it is. But then, steroids and HGH are simply an extension of this sick trend in America to defy the natural order of things, whether it's breast size, facial wrinkles, or diminishing body mass. From GNC to McNamee, Americans have bought into a losing battle. The irony is that this ghastly pursuit of eternal youth and power and beauty is so damn ugly and debilitating. Even more ironic is that those who simply eat right, exercise regularly and surround themselves with good people who are mature enough to accept Nature's way tend to live longer, happier lives anyway.

Losing Faith

Could Congress please focus on:

a) our over-extended military spending, and resulting national debt
b) education for our children (and I don't even have any)
c) a coherent energy policy (why is Brazil decades ahead of us)
d) etc etc etc
and quit wasting their time, our money, and our nation's credibility on this?

So frustrating!


The saddest thing, I believe, is the enormity of illegal chemical performance-enhancement use.

When young athletes see the already talented stars of so many sports being suspected, accused, caught using or admitting to steroid use, it only reinforces the notion that this action is necessary as a step up the ladder of athletic achievement.

The young athletes of the world deserve better guidance than this.

Clark Addison

Re Sydneys post: Clemens disputed the Mitchell report, that is the reason for the hearings. None of the other players disputed the findings.


Cycling, boxing, football, baseball, track and field, etc.. Is every sport tarnished by illegal substances? I don't think they're even worth watching anymore. A bunch a liar earning millions while they purport themselves as athletes, champions and heroes. It's all a scam, a disgrace. Don't care anymore for "professional" sports.



Heard you on the radio this week and really enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy it enough to be a regular.

This whole steroid thing makes me very angry. A lot of people just shrug their shoulders and want it to fade away because they think it is part of professional sports. But what about the many fine competitors who worked in vain against these cheaters? How frustrating to watch the cheaters prosper for so long. These cheaters need to be dragged through the mud for everyone to see for a long time. Hopefully their shame will be that much greater.


Hey Kareem!

I met you at the House of Blues in L.A. about 4 years ago when you gave a really cool Q & A session. It was a great experience that I will never forget. Having the picture of us also helps...I stil can't believe how big your hands are. Any ways...

I think it's really awesome that you are getting renewed recognition for your past acheivemts, as well as your current ones. It's been wonderful to see you back with the Lakers. You have obviously been doing a great job with Bynum. You have always been a great role model for fitness, intelligence, and introspection. Keep up the good work.



the other distressing thing about the hearing was the taking of sides by democrats and republicans. even for this type of issue. most disheartening. whether they should have held a hearing is one issue, but they did. it would seem that their concern then should be to analyze and discuss curtailing the use of these drugs as they harm people, instead of taking sides. embarrassing.
p.s. clemens is a fibber. one need look no further than andy pettitte. he did the honorable thing. clemens doesn't seem to know what that is.

Sue Kamm

Hi, Kareem -

I'm glad you mentioned Lyle Alzado in your blog. It's sad that the long-term effects of taking steroids haven't been stressed enough.

A lot of people have been dissolusioned about baseball and other sports because of the "fine mess." Athletes who many young people admire have let down not only the kids but adults. I guess we can't go back and erase the records that have been tainted.


I used to see Alzado every once in a while because I played basketball behind a church that he regularly attended. Sometimes he would stop and watch us play.

There he was, one of the biggest, toughest guys to ever play in a SuperBowl, but at that time he had become frail and small, unable to walk without the support of his girlfriend. He told us he wished he was strong enough to join in our pick-up game.

I didn't really know what to think. On one hand, nobody wants to end up like that. On the other hand, he probably lived more a lot more life in his shorter span than I will live if I make to 90 or 100...


Cap, I first met you on june 12 1966 when I graduated from Emerson JR in Westwood, why do I remember that? when my friends and I saw you walking on our way to the student union at UCLA you gave us kids tickets to the game the next night.. freshman against the varsity in which you (Freshman) beat the defending NCAA champs by 30 points. I met you again when you had a book signing for Giant Steps... I'm so happy that you are healthy and happy
I have just moved back home to LA after living in NYC the last 14 years and lived a block away from where Power Memorial once stood. I have been making films the last 10 years that are written for Women and Minorities... What you are doing is what every film maker and American should be doing showing what America is all about... that there is more about America than white waspy people.. all the best Kareen and bless you and your family... I'd love to do some work with you sometime...

Jon K.


The reason why Republicans were so nice to Clemens is because the Bush family and the Clemens family are close.


I really don't have the time to care about millionaire baseball players and millionaire congressmen; they all are a bunch people taking from the masses to have their way and just waste time. Why can't they care of the homeless, the economy, and more important issue in this country which financially is falling greater and greater everyday.

My great grandfather fought at Gettysburg and he was trust into the military coming from Ireland but he did it and was lucky to survive but now I know he must be spinning in his grave.

This has made me not very proud to be an American

Rick Ellis

Quote: "That's why if you want to truly stimulate the economy, you give more money to the people on the bottom."

No, Jon, if you want to stimulate an economy you encourage production, not consumption. The former creates long-term growth, the later creates a short-term spike.

This is like encouraging someone to eat candy instead of good food. While you might see a momentary glycogen spike, not only will it not provide the kind of long lasting nutrition needed to fuel real performance, but the inevitable sugar crash will negate any benefit.

That a stimulus package like this is thought to be good economic policy is quite troubling - even to someone like me who is quite liberal.


Roger Clemens’s under oath denials where so emphatic, leaving no “its depends on the definition” wiggle-room that an expedited perjury referral to justice cries out like a wailing mother after the death of her only child. It will definitely make the top 10 lying lowlights lowlife news reels.

Clemens lies not only piled on defiling the game, it’s now stepping over threatening our well defined and long established lines of justice.

I commend you sir for having the courage to comment.

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Captain Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

Since retiring as a player in 1989, Kareem has balanced his love of basketball with his love of history. In 2002 he led a USBL team, the Oklahoma Storm, to a championship. Since 2005, he has been the special assistant coach for the Lakers, working with Andrew Bynum.

In 2008 he was chosen The Greatest Player in College Basketball History.

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes"; "A Season on the Reservation," which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."

His audio adaptation, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Audio & Musical Journey through the Harlem Renaissance," is a four-volume compilation read by Bob Costas, Avery Brooks, Jesse L. Martin, and Stanley Crouch, and features private and fascinating conversations with dozens of icons, including Coach John Wooden, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Billy Crystal. He has also been written to L.A. Times, under the Sports section.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been appearing on various radio stations and TV shows, as well as the most relevant websites talking about his life and his new audio book, On the Shoulders of Giants.

All images are property of www.iconomy.com unless otherwise stated. All info copyrighted and owned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not replicated without permission.

Come meet Kareem at the NBA Store on 5th Avenue: Friday, May 16th, from 3:15pm - 4:15pm.

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