Having to deal with watching the cameron crazies taunting Vasquez and Gary Williams as Duke blew out Maryland was hard enough, but now news has broke that really tugged at my heart - Juan Dixon, Maryland's all-time leading scorer, Maryland's savior that guided the program to their only National Championship, has tested positive for steroids in Europe according to the Associated Press (via the Baltimore Sun).
Dixon, who excelled in college and finished as Maryland's all-time leading scorer, struggled in the NBA and last October was cut by the Atlanta Hawks, forcing Dixon to try to revive his career in Europe with the the Spanish team Unicaja. Dixon's test was taken in November before he joined the team and he was just informed of the positive result. The International Basketball Federation has suspended Dixon indefinitely.
Juan, at each level of basketball, had been told he couldn't make it. Gary Williams recruited him out of Calvert Hall in Baltimore but recruiting experts said he was too small and too weak to play in the ACC. Dixon proved them wrong. But as he got into the NBA, drafted by the Wizards in the first round in 2002, Dixon seemed to be nothing more than a role player in the NBA and never found a niche on a team. He bounced around the league between Washington, Portland (where he teamed up with ex-teammate Steve Blake) Toronto and Detroit, before finally being cut by Atlanta last year, basically marking the end of his time in the NBA.
Maybe Juan was fearful that his career was slipping away and that this was his only hope of continuing to play basketball. I guess we'll never know for sure. But Juan was always a guy you wanted to see succeed - overcoming the death of both of his parents to AIDS, succeeding in high school, and then working hard over his career at Maryland to become the best player in College Basketball his senior year. It was the story line that CBS's "One Shining Moment" was written for. And to top it off, Dixon was able to go out on top, winning the NCAA tournament against Indiana. You always wanted to see Juan do well. So maybe that's why this hurts so much. You know all of the things this guy has overcome, all of the work he put into getting to where he is today and now he might have lost his future in basketball because of a failed drug test. It's sad, disappointing and a little heartbreaking. I'll always remember Juan for taking Maryland basketball to the promise land my freshman year. Being able to see Dixon in person as he tossed that ball into the air as time expired in the National Champion game in Atlanta is something I'll always remember. And hopefully that is how we'll remember Juan Dixon's basketball career - as the shining knight that finally put Maryland on top, not a guy who resorted to performance enhancing drugs to try to save his basketball career.