The Phoenix Suns have been struggling on the basketball court in the last couple of years. The Suns hoped that by drafting DeAndre Ayton with the first overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, he would provide the support that Devin Booker needs to get the team over the hump. However, after an impressive rookie season, Ayon’s career took a wrong step.
Two days after the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, the league announced that Ayton will be suspended for 25 games after violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. The 7-foot Ayton tested positive for a diuretic during a drug test conducted by the league. As a result, Ayton will not see action until December 17, 2019, against the Los Angeles Clippers. He will be without pay during the suspension, meaning he stands to lose more than $2.1M of his $9.6M salary.
Ayton played one season for the University of Arizona before the Suns picked him first overall in last year’s draft. He was edged out by Luka Doncic in the Rookie of the Year voting but despite that, Ayton still managed to average an impressive 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game last year. The Suns had high hopes this year with Ayton and star guard Devin Booker finally playing alongside a top-notch point guard in Ricky Rubio. Ayton played in the Suns’ season opener and he posted 18 points and 11 rebounds during a 124-95 blowout win over the Sacramento Kings. But the positivity from that opening day win has evaporated with Ayton’s suspension.
The NBA deems that a player testing positive for a diuretic to be positive of using PEDs because the former is used to mask the result of a drug test hence, he is handed out the same sanction. And because the NBA issues a 25-game suspension for first-time drug violators, that is what Ayton got.
With 25 games to miss, Ayton joins the list of players who have been handed out the longest suspensions in the history of the NBA. Check out the list:
Ron Artest (86 Games)
The Malice in the Palace was one of the worst sports brawls we’ve ever seen. While Ron Artest was lying down on top of the scorer’s table, a fan threw a drink at him, causing Artest to go after the man. A large scale fight ensued between players and then fans. As he was leaving the scene, Artest punched a fan who came inside the court to confront him. As a result, a total of five players were fined an aggregate sum of $11M and a total of 142 games of suspension were handed out. Being the main protagonist, Artest was suspended for the rest of the season. That meant 73 regular-season games and the 13 games his Indiana Pacers played during the postseason.
Latrell Sprewell (68 Games)
Latrell Sprewell was one of the most fierce competitors during his time. He was an elite scorer and a very good defender in his prime. During the 1997 season, Sprewell was criticized by head coach PJ Carlesimo during practice. Sprewell didn’t take the criticism positively and he ended up. choking, threatening, and punching Carlesimo. He was immediately suspended for 10 games but two days later, the team terminated Sprewell’s $23.7M contract and suspended him for a year. Spree made an appeal and the sanction was reduced to 68 games. He was never the same player after the suspension.
Gilbert Arenas (50 Games)
Gilbert Arenas called himself Agent Zero but that didn’t mean he had the right to carry a gun inside the locker room. In 2010, Arenas was suspended for storing an unlicensed but unloaded gun in his locker and drawing it on teammate Javaris Crittenton during an argument regarding gambling debts. At that time, Arenas was already under suspension for carrying and storing unlicensed firearms. The suspension was for the rest of the season but since Agent Zero had played 32 games already, the suspension lasted 50 games.
Javaris Crittenton (38 Games)
Talk about losing two backcourt players in one event. Javaris Crittenton was suspended in the same incident as Gilbert Arenas. Like Arenas, his violation was carrying and storing an unlicensed gun in his locker. Crittenton was suspended for 38 games and he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor gun possession charges. He was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and required to do community service. While Arenas was able to return to the Wizards after the issue, Crittenton was waived by the Wizards and he was never able to play for another NBA team.
Stephen Jackson (30 Games)
Stephen Jackson was also involved in the Malice at the Palace. Jackson was playing for the Indiana Pacers at that time and he came to the “aid” of Ron Artest. His involvement included entering the stands and punching a fan. Not only was Jackson suspended for 30 games without pay, but he was also put on probation for one year, fined $250 plus community service, and ordered to attend anger management classes. Jackson was also suspended in 2007 after he was involved in a fight at an Indiana strip club. He was also charged with a felony count of criminal recklessness for firing a 9mm pistol.
Kermit Washington (26 Games)
It comes as a surprise to me why Kermit Washington was suspended for only 26 games when he probably committed the worst violation among the players in this group. It was in 1977 when Washington punched Rudy Tomjanovich with what is considered as the most devastating non-boxing punch in sports history.
Rudy T missed the rest of the season after suffering a broken nose, broken jaw and a cerebral concussion as a result of the punch. Tomjanovich was even leaking spinal fluid into his mouth. In 2016, Washington was sentenced to six months in federal prison for charity fraud.
Jodie Meeks (25 Games)
In 2018, guard Jodie Meeks was suspended for 25 games after violating the NBA’s anti-drug program. Meeks tested positive for banned substances ipamorelin and the growth-hormone-releasing peptide-2. Meeks denied ever knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs and appealed the punishment. The league stood firm and Meeks served the suspension which carried over to the 2018-19 season. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks and then was waived. He signed to play for the Toronto Raptors for the rest of the 2018-19 season and was a part of their 2019 NBA Championship team.
Jeffery Taylor (24 Games)
Jeffery Taylor was a three-year veteran with the Charlotte Bobcats but you probably don’t remember him because he only played a total of 132 games in three seasons. But when it comes to being notorious, Taylor will always be remembered as the NBA player who was suspended in 2014 for a domestic violence incident. Taylor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property charges. He was also sentenced to 18 months of probation and as part of his probation, he was required to complete a 26-week program on domestic violence intervention. Taylor currently plays for Real Madrid in Europe.
Hedo Turkoglu (20 Games)
Hedo Turkoglu was one of the best European forwards in the league during the 2000s. But in 2013, the Turkish star was suspended for 20 games after he tested positive for methenolone, an anabolic steroid. Turkoglu took full responsibility for his actions and said that he took the drug as prescribed by a doctor in Turkey to help him recover from a shoulder injury. He claimed that he failed to check it against the list of substances banned by the NBA. After his suspension, Turkoglu went on to play two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers before retiring.
Nick Calathes (20 Games)
Nick Calathes is the star point guard of the Euroleague team Panathinaikos. Before he made the All-Euroleague First Team in back to back seasons in 2018 and 2019, he played for the Memphis Grizzlies for two seasons. In 2014, Calathes was suspended by the NBA for 20 games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. Calathes tested positive for Tamoxifen, a banned substance that was found in a supplement he was taking. Calathes argued that he used the supplement for a legitimate medical condition and because there were no traces of PEDs in his system, the banned drug was of no advantage to him.
Joakim Noah (20 Games)
Joakim Noah was suspended for 20 games in 2017 after he tested positive for the over the counter supplement selective androgen receptor modulator LGD-4033 which is banned by the league. The drug is described as “non-steroidal, selective androgen receptor modulator that, much like testosterone, can create anabolic activity in muscles and bones” and “provides many of the muscle-building and therapeutic benefits of testosterone, without the same level of troublesome side effects.” As a result, Noah forfeited $2-$3M of his salary that season from the Knicks.