Joe Dumars described the NBA stoners’ love for cannabis best in a 1997 NY Times interview: “If they tested for pot, there would be no league.”
A couple years later, Charles Oakley told the New York Post, “You got guys out there playing high every night,” While then-commissioner David Stern advised Oakley to pass on the evidence to his allegations to Billy Hunter so that these players could be penalized, but thankfully Oakley is no snitch and we’ve been left to speculate whose been blazing before games ever since.
In a recent interview, Chauncey Billups noted that he had teammates who played better after smoking as it helped them with anxiety. There have been plenty of players who confessed to doing so, although most have only come forward following their retirement from the league.
Check out the 15 most likely culprits below.
15 Klay Thompson
As you may remember, before Andrew Bogut suffered a potentially career-ending broken tribia in his first game with the Cavs, the Australian center was a member of the Golden State Warriors. Appearing on The Bill Simmons’ Podcast last season, Bogut let it slip that Klay Thompson’s nickname in the locker room is “Big Smokey.”
Back in college, Thompson was arrested for marijuana possession, which amounted to a one game suspension, which at least verifies he’s dabbled in with the stuff. Curiously, when coach Steve Kerr admitted to trying medicinal marijuana to treat his back pain, Klay said, “But not recreational, that should not be of its use ever. There’s a medicinal side to it that people are finding out have benefits, especially people with really high pain.” The space cadet Splash Brother is just naturally loopy or could be living with chronic pain.
14 Bill Walton
Do you really believe that known Dead Head and Phish fan never smoked up before an NBA game? While attending UCLA, legend has it that John Wooden permitted Walton to smoke weed.
Since then, Bill Walton has spent most of his post-basketball career as a weed advocate. This year, ESPNU returned from a commercial break and caught the Hall of Famer in the middle of a pro-marijuana plea. The former player was calling for the declassification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug and for President Barack Obama to grant blanket amnesty to offenders so everyone could “move on to the future.” Funnily enough, it’s not the first time Bill Walton’s been caught on air raving about the stuff.
13 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a proud pot smoker for decades. He has a prescription for the drug, which is legal for medicinal purposes in his home state of California, that he uses to treat the nausea-inducing migraines he has endured for years. In 1972, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bucks teammate Lucius Allen were arrested on suspicion of possessing dangerous drugs. Police stopped their car and found marijuana. Simple possession of marijuana was a misdemeanour in Colorado during the time of his arrest.
In 2000, Kareem was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. He failed the field sobriety test, was taken to a local jail, booked and later released. So smoking does have its pitfalls even for legends. However, fellow stoner Tommy Chong is convinced that Kareem was able to play eight years past his prime because Kareem never drank, only smoked.
12 Allen Iverson
Back in 1997, Iverson was arrested for the possession of a firearm and two marijuana cigarettes. He pleaded no contest for the gun and the drug charges were dropped.
The Answer gets a lot of credit for bringing rap culture to the NBA, which is to say clothes—which would later implement the NBA’s dress code—and the tattoos. But anyone who knows rap music knows that the sticky icky is just as important as the ink and the threads. Could weed be the secret to Iverson’s buttery crossover?
11 Steve Nash
This is a story that’s circulated around NBA circles forever. Steve Nash was allegedly at a club, smelled marijuana and asked if someone had a bowl. The person Nash approached asked him if he smoked, to which Nash allegedly responded, “I’m from Vancouver, bro.” Yes, Steve Nash, you are from Vancouver, bro. You were also a proud wearer of Bob Marley shirts after games. Additionally, there have been photos of Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki appearing to be having a good time. There's no stories about the latter so we'll give him a pass off this list.
To make some of the passes that appear on Nash’s highlight reel, you would have to be smoking something. But then again, you would never know if he’s smiling because he’s high or if he’s just Canadian.
10 Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley was projected to become a top NBA talent, but things didn’t go according to plan. Drafted second overall in 2008 by the Miami Heat, by September, Beasley was in hot water for hotboxing a hotel room with Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur. The following August pictures surfaced online of Michael Beasley on a boat with what appeared to be weed and he checked into a rehab clinic.
After getting traded to the Timberwolves in 2010, Beasley was on his best behaviour until he was pulled over for speeding, as a bag of marijuana was found. Then on August 6, 2013, Michael Beasley is reportedly arrested for marijuana possession after being pulled over for traffic violation as a member of the Phoenix Suns. With so many strikes on his record, who can really say Michael Beasley didn’t smoke before a couple games.
9 Robert Parish
Robert “The Chief” Parish played more career NBA games than any other player in the league, winning four championships, appearing in nine All-Star games and was a fearsome rebounder and shot blocker for the Boston Celtics. And how could we leave stoner off the resume?
In 1993, Parish had a brush with the law when several ounces of weed—anywhere from two to five—arrived at his Massachusetts home in a FedEx box addressed to him. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Parish admitted to smoking marijuana after games to relax, but said he stopped smoking in 1995. “But people don’t believe that,” he added.
8 Joakim Noah
All you need to do is look at Joakim Noah’s long mane of hair to know that the guy partakes in the Devil’s lettuce. While the usual intensity he brought on the court makes it questionable whether or not he ever got “green” before a game, there is ample evidence that Joakim’s got a green thumb.
Back in March 2010, Noah was spotted on Chicago’s North Side on a block affectionately known as “Head Shop Row” shopping for bongs. The photos were published and the Bulls gave no comment after they were released. At the time the photos were taken, Noah was recovering from plantar fasciitis and was sidelined for nearly a month.
During a ESPN The Magazine sponsored tour of Joakim Noah’s house also revealed his fridge is covered with pro-hemp stickers and a picture of Jim Morrison. And "a picture of a little chimp, and I like him, and I bought him on Venice Beach."
7 Larry Sanders
The defensive specialist may have recently hopped aboard the Cavaliers bandwagon, but it wasn’t long ago when Sanders left the NBA to smoke weed. After two suspensions for smoking weed, Sanders pretty much decided it wasn’t worth it. And can you blame him?
Sanders has gone on the record to say that marijuana helps him with his anxiety and depression. It’s easy to sympathize with Sanders’s marijuana use because it’s essential to his mental health. Hopefully he can stay off the stuff long enough to claim a championship with the Cavs. Although, he’ll have to impress in Canton, home of the Cavs’ D-League affiliate, before he does.
6 LeBron James
In LeBron James’s book, Shooting Stars, admitted that he and his teammates smoked pot one night after getting access to a hotel room in Akron, as they had achieved rock star status already, which is innocuous as can be. It’s so boring that it almost makes you forget that he was caught with a microG vaporizer after losing Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals. It also makes you forget that Savannah James appeared to be caught on camera holding a blunt during Game 7 of the World Series. What did LeBron James do when he took those two weeks off in the middle of his return to Cleveland season?
LeBron James has been in the NBA for 13 years. He’s been the best player in the world for about 13 years. Why wouldn’t he make his job more interesting by showing up just a little stoned?
5 Lamar Odom
As early as the 1999 NBA Draft, there were drug rumours circling around Lamar Odom. “Drug rumours and some doubts about his character bumped him from the top spot…” The Los Angeles Times reported in 2001. There are some Clippers fans who believed Odom smoked before every game. He failed a NBA drug test in March 2001 and claimed to have learned his lesson. Then he failed another test in November 2001.
Lamar Odom’s marijuana habit is the least of his problems. In 2015, Odom suffered several strokes and kidney failure at the Love Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada, that put him in a coma and was on life support for a few days before regaining consciousness days later. The son of a heroin addict, Odom has said that he has to fight the same demons his father did.
4 Carmelo Anthony
C’mon, this one’s too easy. HIS NAME IS MELO. The Knicks star was cited for marijuana possession while boarding the team plane in 2004. Nothing really came from the incident and Melo denied the whole thing. He insisted the weed was left in his bag by a friend who had borrowed it previously. Hey, if that excuse works for teenagers around the world, why shouldn’t it work for professional athletes?
I’m not buying Melo’s “It’s not mine! It’s my friend’s!” excuse because you have got to have THC in your blood stream if you think jab-stepping through an entire position is an effective way to run an offense.
3 J.R. Smith
Yes, the man who mysteriously lost all his shirts after winning the championship last summer partakes. Are you surprised? The man who—per Jacob L Rosen—just randomly struggled on Sundays in his career. Every other day of the week, he posted a.525 true shooting percentage, but crashed on Sundays with .498. One can only imagine what J.R. Smith gets up to on a saturday night in New York in 2013.
J.R. Smith partied so hard that Rihanna called him out on Instagram, attributing Smith’s playoff drop-off to being hungover because he’s at the club too much. If Rihanna calls you out for partying, you must be going hard. Media has snapped pics of J.R. smoking a blunt in South Beach, but it was May 2012 when he was a free agent, so who cares? Plus, JR revealed in a GQ profile let slip when asked about Ohio not passing a marijuana-legalization initiative: “Man, if you’d passed it, I wouldn’t have to leave in the off-season!”
2 Rasheed Wallace
Ah yes, the Jail Blazers. Wallace and teammate Damon Stoudamire skipped the team bus, preferring to drive back home to Portland from Seattle after a game against the rival Sonics. Stoudamire’s yellow Hummer was pulled over by police. They found 40 grams of weed. Both players agreed to plea deals and it was the first in four marijuana-related arrested. Ladies and gentlemen, the Jail Blazers.
Strange to think that Rasheed Wallace, who consistently lead the league in technical fouls, was a pothead. Then again, maybe he was so irate on the court because he was going through withdrawal.
1 Zach Randolph
It’s August 2011. Oregon police have begun investigating a drug dealer’s claim that he went to Zach Randolph’s house to sell him weed. Randolph refused to pay the $200 asking price, stole his weed and allowed his friends to beat the dealer with pool cues. The crazy part? That’s not even Zach Randolph’s craziest weed connection.
The spring before, Randolph—whose rap sheet already looked like a laundry list—was implicated in the investigation of Arthur Boyd, a “major marijuana supplier in Indianapolis,” when police found Boyd’s car and storage locker, both containing “controlled substances,” were registered to Zach Randolph. Police considered Randolph the financial muscle behind the operation.
If you find yourself in that position, you probably don’t care about lighting up before games.