There hasn’t been a performance-enhancing drugs scandal in basketball. At least, not to the level of, say, the likes of BALCO and Major League Baseball. As close as we came was when the NBA started testing players for HGH before the beginning of the 2015-16 season. The trendy thing to do online at the time, was to look at players’ physiques, and see which were noticeably slimmer.
But there was a major steroid reckoning in the 21st century in both baseball, professional wrestling, and to a lesser extent, the NFL. Now, the biggest name in the NBA, if not professional sports, has had close confidants surface as part of unredacted federal documents that were part of the Biogenesis investigation.
LeBron James’ longtime friend and business manager Ernest Mims, as well as trainer David Alexander, who has worked with James in the past, were named in the unearthed documents as clients of Biogenesis.
To be clear — the reporting from ESPN that unveiled Alexander and Mims’ names does not accuse James of taking performance-enhancing drugs, nor do any of the cited documents contain claims of him using steroids. However, James’ name being tied up in this new wave of the Biogenesis scandal in two different ways is a terrible look. The names Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz were never the same because of this scandal, as the findings led to the suspension of 21 players from Major League Baseball. An original 200-plus-game suspension for Alex Rodriguez didn’t forever disgrace the former Texas Ranger and New York Yankee, but his chase to take down the sport’s all-time home-run record was disintegrated, and his career prior to his admission of using performance-enhancing drugs will always have an asterisk.
Rodriguez’s reasoning for taking performance-enhancing drugs translates too easily to parts of James’ career. A-Rod predominantly cited overwhelming expectations for why he juiced. Has there ever been an athlete with higher expectations in American sports than James? He was the most-hyped high school athlete of all time, all before the mainstream appeal of high school recruiting became popular. The spectacle of James is something we’ll ever see again. And the unique pressure to live up to Michael Jordan-or-better projections surely influenced James. Whether that led to him using performance-enhancing drugs has never been confirmed and has merely been a rumor. This is the first tangible sign that there might be more to the story.
Mims was cited in the federal documents as buying controlled substances for personal use without the intent of distributing the drugs to anyone else. Per ESPN, Mims was never charged with a crime and was never interviewed as part of the case by federal authorities. Alexander is listed in federal documents as a Miami-based personal trainer for James’ wife. Alexander was also named as an associate of a former colleague of Biogenesis mastermind Anthony Bosch, where he traded drugs for new personal-training clients — one of whom was Mims. James, nor any other athlete, was not listed in the names of about a dozen referrals involving Alexander.
A representative for James told ESPN the current Los Angeles Laker had no knowledge he, his wife, or any associates were even referenced in the Biogenesis investigation until approached by the media organization last year. ESPN’s requests to interview James and Mims were declined after they provided James’ camp with applicable information to back up their questioning. It’s clear ESPN’s reporting on this subject took over a year’s worth of research. And while this is the first needle-moving action involving the Biogenesis case in several years, it’s surely not going to be the last.
Paul “The Big Show” Wight also named
Weeeellllllllllll, well it’s … being tied up in a federal investigation. I think that’s how his entrance theme went. Anyway, the “World’s Largest Athlete” known as Paul “The Big Show” Wight — who wrestled as The Giant earlier in his career —might’ve had some help in beefing up to his announced 7-foot, 400-pound stature, as his name is directly mentioned with taking performance-enhancing drugs in ESPN’s reporting. Wight never failed a drug test with the WWE, but allegedly used Bosch’s services from 2009-10.
This would’ve been during Wight’s resurgence with the WWE, where he fought Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania the year prior to his first alleged meeting with Bosch. Wight’s return to WWE saw him visibly slim down from his billed over-500-pound weight. WWE’s main roster is on the road most of the year with no offseason, performing in smaller towns on weekends, in addition to weekly television shows and premium events. Steroids have long been tied to professional wrestling, but Wight’s name had never been previously wrapped up in wrongdoing. The now-51-year-old Wight is currently signed with All Elite Wrestling as a commentator and wrestler.