Commentary: Lamar Odom’s Alleged Drug Problem and the NBA

But was the troubled basketball star’s disappearance just another Kardashian publicity stunt?

Posted: 08/29/2013 05:45 PM EDT

Do you think the latest Lamar Odom saga might have been…well, a publicity stunt? Yes, Odom, an NBA star on the decline, emerged from what has been an odyssey that needs some explanation; no one can dispute that right now. But is any man who beds a Kardashian woman above theatrics?

Now, it’s not easy to dismiss the reports that he’s struggling with drugs (some reports claim it's crack) as theater. In some ways, his alleged drug habit might explain his erratic play on the basketball court and the silliness of his association with a Kardashian. Khloé and Lamar may be lovers, but it’s a love match that seems made in romance hell.

Strange love is an altogether different matter compared to a drug addiction, which, in Odom’s case, raises a larger question. With all the talk about performance-enhancing drugs and steroids in Major League Baseball, one has to ask why there is so little media scrutiny of the drug policies of the National Basketball Association

The league has no culture of PEDs, which experts say don’t benefit sinewy NBA players as much the biochemists’ cocktails help athletes who want bulk. The league, however, has had a not-so-underground problem with weed, a drug that hardly enhances a player’s performance. Still, weed or any other “recreational” drug could harm the integrity of a sport in the same way steroids and PEDs do in baseball.

So is the NBA obliged to help?

The easiest of answers is yes. The league and its leadership should have done more and should be doing more to get a drug addict (even weed users) help. Where were Odom’s teammates, his coach and his friends in all of this, too?

And, better yet, what about Khloé Kardashian? Did she do enough before to help her husband, whose life now seems careening toward death?

One could argue, doing more would have made for poor TV ratings. Craziness is what draws in viewers and attention, and the Kardashians are nothing if not about attention. Controversy has never scared members of a family who are regular cover subjects of gossip magazines.

It does scare the NBA, however, which seems reluctant to explore its drug problems with the kind of aggressiveness needed. League officials could, of course, claim drugs aren’t an issue. But then they would be lying.

Idle time, fat wallets and interest in risk are a recipe for experimenting with drugs. The best Khloé can hope for is that her husband is all right – that what looks like a drug binge is simply an escape from the frustrations and pressures of fame.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: David Tonnessen/PacificCoastNews.com)

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