The NBA released its latest Collective Bargaining Agreement in April of 2023. The new CBA includes an amendment relaxing the NBA’s stance on marijuana consumption. In the past, NBA players who smoke weed have faced significant contractual risks. However, effective July 1, 2023, marijuana will be removed from the NBA’s Prohibited Substances List.
The ties between marijuana and basketball are there. Basketball is an improvisational sport. It’s a sport that rewards the ability to embrace a moment and deliver just what that specific moment requires.
And weed is an improvisational lubricant. Among the many benefits and drawbacks of marijuana consumption, is the tendency to promote seemingly random and disparate mental connections. Essentially, marijuana can enhance creativity on the fly.
It’s also widely understood that marijuana and it’s derivatives can aid in athletic recovery. There are certainly still risks to regular marijuana consumption, but when you’re maxing out against the greatest athletes on the planet 100+ times in a year, efficient recovery can be a massive advantage.
So it is known and accepted that weed can add to both enjoyment and performance on the basketball court. But the NBA has long discouraged cannabis consumption in it’s official capacity. So if there have been NBA players who smoke weed in the past, they have kept it quiet.
However, in 2020, the league suspended in-season testing for marijuana consumption. And some players have suggested that weed has gone from open secret to accepted truth. The new CBA adjustments should serve to remove any teeth that the previous marijuana restrictions may have still had.
Current NBA Players Who Smoke Weed
In his autobiographical book Shooting Stars, James mentions some casual marijuana use in his late teens. I don’t see why LeBron wouldn’t also casually enjoy some weed in his adult years, although apparently he favors a glass of red wine for winding down.
His son Bronny has also been known to smoke weed. In 2020, Bronny ‘accidentally’ shared a video of himself smoking a blunt to social media. The video was quickly deleted.
KD appeared on Netflix’s “My Guest Needs No Introduction” with David Letterman in 2022. The pair discuss marijuana use and Kevin admits to Dave that he is, “high right now”.
Kevin is partnered with WeedMaps, so it’s no wonder he would use his platform to touch on the topic of athleticism and marijuana use. It should be noted that the new CBA doesn’t allow for the promotion of marijuana products, but apparently WeedMaps is more of a tool for finding marijuana products than a marijuana product itself.
About 30 minutes into episode 156 of the All The Smoke Podcast Klay describes his experience getting ‘rolled for a dime bag’ in college, not long before the draft.
They got him on a broken tail light pulling into his own driveway. He let them search his vehicle and they found a small stash in the glove compartment. Another of the many reasons you never allow the police to search your vehicle without a warrant. Make them get a warrant!
Considering it was national news, and Klay got dragged, this could have been a career ending event. Luckily, it just dropped him to a #11 Warriors pick. Ended up working out I think.
So, I wasn’t aware of this prior to writing this article, but apparently a video of LaMelo smoking a blunt went viral in 2022, just before his Charlotte Hornets faced the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in.
I’m not gonna share the video, just because it’s stupid. It’s just not even interesting at all, and looks kinda fake.
For what it’s worth, the Hornets lost to the Hawks, but LaMelo had a decent showing.
In 2021, the “Bald Mamba,” himself was booked on possession. He was apparently visiting his alma mater, Texas A&M when he was busted by an overzealous campus cop. Apparently his defensive skills failed him.
There was a minor outpouring of support from hoopers, including teammate LeBron and fellow campus police collar JJ Reddick, during his brief detention. Still, I question the logic of entering a Texas college campus with a controlled substance on your person.
Back in 2003, when Reddick was still at Duke, he was part of a little incident that involved some other Duke athletes, the smell of marijuana, and some homemade smoking paraphernalia. Reddick was cleared of all wrong doing in the incident.
I think it’s safe to say he has used marijuana in his lifetime. I think it’s also safe to say he’s not against it.
I mean, it seems possible that Draymond does not himself partake….
However, about 10 years after that tweet, at Draymond’s wedding, there was reportedly a ‘blunt rolling station’. Hey, maybe it was just the trendy thing to do. And if you don’t partake, but you do, “got love for some ppl that do”, it makes sense to provide for your buds.
Former NBA Players Who Smoke Weed
I don’t see how you could know anything about this guy and not think he’s one of the greatest athletes of all time. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a superstar athlete in a time when his race, his religious choices, and his naturally introverted personality were all major strikes against him.
And he dealt with it all like a pro. I’d argue all day that Kareem was every bit the dominant athlete the world needed in the 1970’s. He was not his predecessors. He was himself.
That being said, he’s clearly not perfect, and he may have made a little mistake on the evening of July 19th, 2000. Kareem was pulled over for doing 52 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. The bike cop that pulled him over noticed a distinct smell in the legendary hooper’s vehicle and he was subsequently subjected to a field sobriety test, which he failed.
Kareem has mentioned his marijuana use in his autobiography Giant Steps. He was also arrested for possession in 1972 with his Bucks teammate Lucius Allen. Personally, I don’t think he needs an excuse, but he claims weed helps him manage his migraines.
Robert Parish played in the NBA until he was 43 years old. There are only 2 other players who played this deep into their forties. They both kinda cheated.
In 1993, he had a little run-in with the law when a package containing several ounces of weed arrived at his Massachusetts residence addressed to him. He would later divulge in an interview with the Boston Globe that he occasionally used marijuana to relax after games.
Was it the weed that helped Parish stay viable in the league for so long? I dunno, but Kareem had a long career too. All I’m saying is it coulda helped.
A lot of people these days know Walton as the loopy color commentator who seems obsessed with The Dead. Walton was an absolute beast in his college days with the legendary Wooden Bruins. If not for injury, Walton would likely have entered contention for NBA GOAT status.
I don’t know if there’s any hard evidence that he smokes weed, but Walton is an outspoken marijuana advocate, if his appreciation of Phish and The Dead were not strong enough indicators in themselves.
In May of 2020, Nash appeared on episode 34 of the “All the Smoke” podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. Nash explains that after retiring as a player, he discovered that weed was helpful in managing some sleeping issues he was dealing with.
In the interview, Nash goes on to theorize that marijuana will become an important feature in the average athlete’s tool kit in the near future. Nash acknowledges the stigma surrounding marijuana consumption, and believes that as the stigma dissipates, it will be better appreciated for the verified benefits it provides.
Worth it to note that while Nash does not admit to using weed as a player, he was probably a regular consumer as a coach.
The man, the myth, the legend… Steve Kerr has mentioned using marijuana to manage his back pain. And his comments have bordered on advocacy for the use of marijuana in pain management over pharmaceuticals.
AI was not one to shy away from controversy. You could say he played into it. That was the essence of his mystique. It probably shortened his career though.
Anyway, Allen Iverson was arrested for possession in 1997. He later claimed he had given up weed. If you’ve known someone who has given up weed, chances are they only did so temporarily.
That seems to have been the case with “The Answer” as he is now a partner in a marijuana brand called Viola. The story goes that the founder of the company told AI he should become a partner and AI agreed to do so if they could create a flower that tastes like Dom Perignon. The rest is history?
John Salley is one of only 4 players to have won NBA titles with 3 different teams. He is also one of several players on this list who have ventured into the cannabis business.
Salley has launched his own premium cannabis brand called Deuces22. He’s also got an ownership stake in a cannabis testing company and serves on the advisory board for BudTrader.
Salley found weed towards the end of his career. He discusses this on the All The Smoke Pod. But his relationship with marijuana has made him something of a proponent for marijuana use in pain management and recovery in professional sports.
Jackson claims he smoked weed on the regular throughout his time in the NBA, and occasionally before games. He now cohosts a podcast called “All the Smoke” which has obvious connotations. You should recognize that title from earlier in this list, as it is the podcast where Steve Nash admitted to using marijuana himself.
Jackson has a particularly entertaining story that involves Woody Allen rolling doobies with Owen Wilson while Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba slipped away to his bedroom where they could smoke in seclusion.
Stephen’s cohost on the “All the Smoke” podcast, Matt Barnes has been a vocal advocate of marijuana use in athletics. He claims he has used marijuana since the age of 14. He claims that he only tested positive twice during his tenure in the NBA, explaining that he reduced his consumption during the regular season to avoid the associated penalties.
Former all-star Al Harrington is the founder that convinced Allen Iverson to get into the weed business. Al is the founder of Viola and other cannabis-related ventures.
Lamar Odom, of Kardashian fame, is a known proponent of drug use and abuse. He’d probably prefer something harder, but he has been known to consume marijuana. Reportedly, some of his Clippers teammates have suggested he was high for every game.
J.R. was called out multiple times by Rihanna for his partying. That partying certainly included marijuana consumption. Smith has openly admitted heavy marijuana use during his time in the league, and often on the NBA court.
Some suggest that the real reason Smith bone-headedly dribbled out the time clock in a finals game against the Warriors back in 2018 is because he was high. The game probably wouldn’t have got the Cavs the title, but it could have at least kept them from a brutal sweep.
I find this one to be incredibly interesting. A first round draft pick in 2010, Sanders received multiple NBA suspensions due to marijuana-positive drug tests during his 5 years in the league.
Considering that the NBA has long been woefully behind in its drug testing practices, it seems almost reasonable to assume that Sanders did not care if the NBA had evidence of his marijuana use.
Seems kinda crazy, but Sanders’ exit from the NBA displays a similar sense of apathy regarding athletic opportunities afforded him. As he explains, it’s not so much apathy, as a refusal to compromise to responsibilities prescribed by the league.
Sanders’ exit began with a voluntary leave of absence from the Bucks, explaining a desire to explore other opportunities, one of which apparently included producing beats with Canadian artist PARTYNEXTDOOR. When he later returned to play for the Cavs, he was waived relatively quickly for what Cavs management described as issues with punctuality.
I don’t blame the guy, honestly. I’m sure playing in the NBA would have it’s moments and you can’t just write off that potential for generational wealth. But it is a job, and jobs absolutely suck.
Still, this is a guy who basically just willingly passed on participation in one of the great NBA finals showdowns of all time. The Cavs would go on to battle the Warriors in 2017, that same year he missed the bus back in April.
Marijuana is no panacea. It has some serious and well-documented downsides. However, those downsides are often less dramatic than other options which carry similar benefits.
In a world like the NBA where maximizing human performance is the goal and achieving that coal can be worth billions of dollars, anything that can make that goal more attainable will be seized upon.
But also, basketball players like smoking weed as much as the rest of us. And if a professional athlete who has worked incredibly hard to get where they are, wants to relax with a blunt now and then, they’re gonna do it.
So while we’ve covered a few of the more vocal and more notable NBA players who smoke weed, there are certainly more pot smokers in the NBA ranks. As the NBA’s contractually imposed drawbacks for consuming marijuana are weakened, it’ll be fascinating to see how marijuana use in the NBA changes.