Milwaukee Brewer fans stood up and cheered for Ryan Braun's first at-bat of the 2014 season. Braun is coming off a steroid suspension that had him out for most of 2013. He lied to his best bud Green Bay Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and to Brewer fans everywhere about his steroid use. Braun even ruined the career of a veteran urine sample collector to escape suspension. Yet, Brewer fans welcomed Braun back to the line-up with a standing ovation and are cheering on the team during a hot start.
Meanwhile in another part of Milwaukee, if you play so-called “professional” basketball, you would be playing games in an empty arena (which in the NBA is known as an inflated 13,000 fans per game). The Bucks are last in the league in attendance and are dead-last in the NBA standings. Even the Philadelphia 76ers had a better record this season and they had one of the league's longest losing streaks.
The NBA recently suspended Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders after he failed a third drug test. He tested positive for THC. Sanders was already out of the lineup due to injury. Miraculously, Sanders recovered and was placed on the active roster, that way he could serve the suspension this year. He did not apologize to the media about his marijuana use, but he did apologize to the fans for his suspension.
"The stigma is that it's illegal. I hate that. Once this becomes legal, this all will go away. But I understand for my work it's a banned substance. I will deal with the consequences and I apologize again to my fans for that."
Sanders accepted the rules, but he does not accept the stigma. His quote will be the most memorable one out of a Bucks' press room all season. Sanders felt no need to lie about his drug use as Braun did.
Fans can only speculate about his reasons for using marijuana: He may very well have needed some pain relief from a torn ligament in his hand suffered at the beginning of the year. He may have smoked a joint to ease the headaches of his shattered orbital bone, an injury suffered this February. Who can blame the guy for wanting to self-medicate? He may have just needed to de-stress because he plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Today in Brewers bars throughout Milwaukee, fans toast their steins to an early lead in MLB's Central Division race. The Brewers are currently 11th in the league in attendance and Braun continues to hear applause from the home crowd. On the road, Braun bats to an echo of boos from baseball fans against steroids.
Basketball Buck fans haven't had much to cheer about. They hope to win first pick in the draft lottery this summer, allowing them to crawl out of their 40-year funk. How will they react when Larry Sanders is announced in the starting lineup on opening night next season? How will fans around the league welcome back Sanders? They probably won't care or even know about his suspension. Just as his statement to the media explains, “Once this becomes legal, this all will go away.” You can't say that about steroids.