As the discussion surrounding medicinal marijuana and professional sports becomes increasingly more relaxed, players and former players have begun to open up about their own experiences. This was seen in full effect on Friday night when Chauncey Billups, Jalen Rose, Tracy McGrady and host Michelle Beadle discussed the merits of medicinal marijuana in the NBA following Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson’s recent admissions that they used it to recover from back surgeries.
All three former NBA players on the panel agree that the NBA should look into medicinal marijuana as a viable alternative to opiod drugs, which have harmed so many people both in the sports world and otherwise.
Billups was very outspoken about it, more so than McGrady and Rose.
“For medicinal use, I think we absolutely need to have that conversation,” Billups said. “The Players Association, they need to talk about that with the NBA, because there’s a lot of science behind it… because we’ve been through a ton of injuries. I’ve seen a piece on Jason Williams, who was the No. 2 pick in the draft, that talked about him being addicted to oxycontin and pain pills, and it would have been much better and much easier thing to have marijuana as a relief.”
Then he went on to say he actually “needed” some of his former players to smoke before games because they played better on weed than they did otherwise, due to high anxiety among other things.
“I had teammates…I actually wanted them to smoke, they played better like that. It helped them focus in on the gameplan…I needed them to do that. I would rather them [smoke] sometimes than drink,” he said.
Now, some will read this and wonder if, in fact, marijuana could actually be considered a performance enhancing drug if used in this way. And that’s a valid argument.
However, the science that is being discovered as it relates to the body healing and the benefits of marijuana to that end make this a conversation worth having on the medical front. It’s a conversation that is being had more and more in the open by former and current players in many different sports, with former NFL offensive tackle Eugene Monroe at the forefront.
Though we’d be remiss if we did not also point out that not all people in the NBA world believe the conversation should be pushed by players or coaches, such as Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson (more on that here).
This is certainly not a cut and dry topic. There are interesting arguments made both for and against pro sports taking penalties off the table, though it’s clear where Billups stands on the issue.