After legendary NBA coach and president of the New York Knicks Phil Jackson and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr both acknowledged they used marijuana to remedy chronic back pain, “Mr. Big Shot” Chauncey Billups offered up another reason smoking weed may help NBA players.
Appearing on NBA Countdown this week to discuss the NBA’s marijuana policy, the seventeen-year veteran and Detroit Pistons icon stated that ingesting marijuana helped some of his teammates play better. Billups said he wouldn’t disclose the identities of the players but insisted that he actually wanted them to be high during game time.
Giving new meaning to floating to the basket, the five-time NBA All-Star clarified, “They played better like that. Big-time anxiety, a lot of things that can be affected, it brought them down a little bit, helped them out, helped them focus in a little bit on the game plan, that I needed them to do that.”
Billups added that he considers his teammates partaking of marijuana preferable to drinking alcohol.
Jackson, well known for his Zen-like take on the human condition admitted that he smoked marijuana after he underwent a back surgery but used it more as a distraction rather than a pain reliever.
Last week Jackson weighed in on the NBA’s marijuana policy: “We have tried to stop [marijuana use] in the NBA. I don’t think we have been able to stop it. I think it still goes on and is still a part of the culture in the NBA. It is something that we either have to accommodate or figure out another way to deal with it.”
Kerr, the 2016 NBA coach of the year and who led the Warriors to the 2015 NBA championship, explained his experience of using pot as a palliative when discussing the topic of marijuana and professional sports earlier in the month. “I guess maybe I can even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried it twice during the last year and a half, when I’ve been going through this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr said in a Warriors Insider podcast.
Did it help? “I tried it and it didn’t help it all,” the 51-year-old Kerr said. “But it was worth it because I’m searching for answers on pain. I’ve tried painkillers and drugs of other kinds as well, and those have been worse. It’s tricky.”