With the NBA season kicking off this week, excitement is high.
The league is doing better than ever, with players making record money and competition at an unprecedented level. There’s just one glaring issue we have with the NBA before we can give our full endorsement: the league’s stubborn stance on weed.
While the NBA isn’t the most strict league when it comes to marijuana use by its players (see the NFL), it certainly isn’t the most liberal on cannabis either (see the NHL). Many retired players have alluded to widespread marijuana use among the league, some even going as far as admitting their teammates were lighting up before the game, playing while high.
“I didn’t know how to handle it at first,” said former Duke University and Chicago Bulls guard Jay Williams to the New York Times. “I didn’t know how to be around it. Guys were on the bench, trying to kick it to girls in the stands, having ball boys run over. I mean, some guys were high.”
When prompted to to explain further, Williams said of his rookie season: “There were guys smoking weed before games. Guys asking in the middle of the game, ‘Do you smell popcorn?’ ”
Sounds lit to us, especially the popcorn part. As Jay grew up from his naive rookie ways and saw the true benefits of marijuana, he changed his tune. He gave another interview in March of this year to Fox where he clearly had seen the light after a career filled with injuries left him addicted to painkillers.
“It’s easy for doctors to prescribe you Oxycontin and look I was addicted to it for five plus years so I know,” Williams said via Fox Business. “But when you say marijuana you get a reaction, ‘ahhh, it’s a gateway drug.’ ”
Williams estimated to Fox that 75-80% of NBA players consume marijuana. Considering their bruising 82-game schedule and a possible playoff run that take a tremendous toll on the body and mind, can you blame NBA players for seeking a healthier option for pain relief?
“I know so many athletes that play on Percocet. Have you ever taken Percocet by the way? It makes you way more groggy than rubbing cannabis oil into your skin,” added Williams. “It’s demonized in society too. ‘Oh, he’s a pot head.’ No, I actually just use cannabis oil because it helps with inflammation and takes away some anxiety.
“When you talk about guys playing at a professional level, there’s a lot of physical and mental stress that comes with that,” he said.” To have something available to you that has health benefits, I don’t see the issue with it myself.”
Close your eyes and look to the future of the National Basketball Association.
The New York Knicks are visiting “the Strip” to play the Las Vegas Aces in a pivotal showdown for both teams heading into the playoffs. Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is clearly on the back nine of his career, but he’s trying to will his team to victory to guarantee the last Eastern Conference playoff spot. This may be his last chance at a title. With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter and New York down by two, Melo drives from the key and elevates to the basket for a ferocious tomahawk dunk. However, Carmelo lands on his ankle awkwardly and winces in visible pain. As he falls to the floor, team trainers rush the floor to make sure their fearless leader is going to be alright.
The team’s doctor hovers over Melo and asks, “Twisted it on descent?” to which Melo replied, “Yup, what flavors you got on you? I want to get a head start while the machine heats up.” The doc pulls four different vaporizer pens from his pocket, each filled with a distinct variety of hash oil. As the trainers take Melo’s arms over their shoulders and assist him back to the bench, the star forward draws a few puffs of a strong hybrid that will not only ease his immediate pain but also help him focus down the final stretch. Now back on the bench and watching precious time erode from the clock, Carmelo awaits the real medicine. Unfortunately, the pen isn’t quite doing the trick so the training staff heats up what they call “the Big Healer,” otherwise known as a Volcano vaporizer. Melo selects some Mega Wellness OG and anxiously waits for the bag to fill with his pain meds.
A rookie trainer notices how frustrated Melo looks with not being on the floor leading his team to victory and says, “That’s taking a while. I think we have some old Cortisone shots and Oxys in the Trainer’s Room lost and found if you want me to grab those?” Melo looked at the idiot with a dumbfounded look and after pausing for tremendous effect replied, “What is this, 2016? LOL. You’re fired.”
As you can clearly see, marijuana becomes a crucial component in sports of the future. Considering the expansive medicinal qualities of the plant and the vast array of delivery methods available, it seems like a no-brainer that sports leagues would adopt an approach with far fewer side effects than their current opioid-based therapeutic model.
Let’s get a head start on the future and start removing the stoner stigma from some of our highest flying favorite players. These are our picks for the Marijuana.com NBA All-Stoner team, let’s root for them all season. To be clear, we gave no extra consideration to players on the Nuggets or Blazers based on team name alone, though it was tempting. May we light up our blunts while they light up their opponents!
Point Guard: Ty Lawson, Sacramento Kings
Truthfully, we need Ty Lawson to smoke more weed, if anything. He’s had trouble with alcohol DUIs before, so maybe he needs to start infusing something a little less dangerous into his routine. Don’t get Lawson wrong though, he definitely loves weed. The former UNC star once posted a video online of him watching the NBA draft while puffing on a hookah. He later told the media it was only hookah shashish, but he got high enough in the video to see the future, predicting his own trade from the Denver Nuggets.
Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Klay famously got pinched by police for a tiny bag of trees while still at Washington State University in 2011. The arrest came right after he torched USC for team-high 22 points. The bag wasn’t full, so we’re left to assume the weed doesn’t hinder his game one bit. Plus, now he lives in NorCal and probably has a plug on some fire — he makes the team.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
While recovering from a broken foot back in 2015, Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder were on the outside looking in at the NBA playoffs. Durant was out in Hollywood enjoying a night out on the town with his friends when TMZ caught up with him on his way home. As he opened his SUV door, a container that looked to be holding roughly a quarter-ounce of certified California chronic fell from the door onto the pavement. A member of the paparazzi immediately called out the weed and one of Durant’s friends picked it up promptly. The damage was done, however, as Durant’s secret stoner status just went public on TMZ. Not able to deny his love for fine weed any longer, Durant ditched restrictive Oklahoma for the glitz, glamour, and ganja of California. Welcome to the squad, KD!
Power Forward: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Besides the aforementioned story from the future, Carmelo has solidified his spot on the All-Stoner squad through hard work, dedication, and an undying love of weed. Carmelo’s public relationship with marijuana dates back to 2004 when he was caught green-handed with some “pain meds” in his backpack before boarding a team flight. Ultimately, a friend of Melo’s took the fall, saying he borrowed the NBA player’s backpack and returned it with weed in it by accident; Melo was apparently none the wiser and used the backpack for his next trip. Anthony’s lawyer at the time, Daniel Recht, expressed Melo’s thoughts on the matter, saying, “He was devastated to learn there was marijuana left in the backpack.” Boom, lawyered. Anthony was also on one of the most iconic stoner teams in NBA history, the 2007-08 Denver Nuggets. These dank Nuggets included Melo, JR Smith, all-time great stoner Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin (unconfirmed, but c’monnn), and one of the greatest to ever stroke smoke it, Allen Iverson. Not to mention that Nuggets team was coached by throat cancer survivor George Karl, whose foundation has bestowed awards on cannabis activists using the plant to fight the deadly disease.
Center: Deandre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Living in Los Angeles and dealing with chronic pain is usually enough reason to secure a medical marijuana card, so the added stress of having the worst free throw game in the league or Mark Cuban owning a voodoo doll in your likeness should cement Jordan’s spot on the team. Plus, he’s one of the rare players who has given us visual confirmation that he blows blunts with the best of them. Exhibit A: On a vacation to Amsterdam, Jordan was photographed enjoying a locally-sourced “roll” at a coffee shop with then-teammates Matt Barnes (we’ll get to him shortly) and Glen Davis.
Sixth Man: JR Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers
Let’s face it, there was a zero percent chance JR Smith didn’t make this team. We love JR because he’s so open about his penchant for pot. Numerous photogs have caught the streaky shooter puffing on what’s sure to be gas anywhere from his hotel balcony to nights out at the club with musicians like Wale. As we stated before, JR had a leg up on the competition for a roster spot here because he was on the 2007-08 Nuggets, and that means something in the marijuana community — that team was loaded.
Joakim Noah, New York Knicks
Prefers to smoke from glass bongs, so classy and European.
Matt Barnes, Memphis Grizzlies
While on that Amsterdam trip with Deandre Jordan, did we mention the pair met up with Wiz Khalifa?
Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
Once referred to as a “major marijuana supplier” in Indianapolis, we believe ZBo was only trying to spread the beneficial plant around to as many people as he could after realizing its immense healing powers.
Larry Sanders, Free Agent
Though he’s currently retired, we’re reserving a spot for the 27-year old former Milwaukee Buck because of his views on our favorite performance-enhancing plant. He has expressed a desire to return to his playing career, but says there is no rush.
“It’s something I feel strongly about, just to let you know something personal about me,” Sanders said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel and NBA.com. “I will deal with the consequences from it. It’s a banned substance in my league. But I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it. I know what it is if I’m going to use it.
“I study it and I know the benefits it has. In a lot of ways we’ve been deprived. You can’t really label it with so many other drugs that people can be addicted to and have so many negative effects on your body and your family and your relationships and impairment. This is not the same thing.
“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.”
Coach: Phil Jackson
Jackson, also known as the Zen Master, famously made the Lakers mediate in the locker room before games. Shaq once questioned Phil’s choice of incense, noticing that it smelled familiar.
“It smelled just like weed,” O’Neal told GQ in an interview. “I said coach, ‘Is this weed?’ He said ‘no, it’s sage, it’s the cousin of cannabis.’”
Mascot: Da Bull, Chicago Bulls
Back in 2004, the Chicago Bulls high-flying mascot Da Bull was arrested in the Windy City for selling weed. The 9-year mascot veteran, who performed all of the trampoline dunking duties at his more high profile gig, got caught with six ounces. While we agree that he should’ve only been supplying marijuana to those who had valid doctor’s recommendations, his work ethic, hustle, and stoned dunking abilities secure him a coveted spot on the All-Stoner team.
Announcer: Bill Walton
Cover Image Courtesy of AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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