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Hoops and Herb: How Cannabis is Changing the Game for NBA Stars

As cannabis legalization spreads, its intersection with professional sports is gaining attention. For some NBA players, cannabis is more than just a recreational drug – it’s a game-changer.

In recent years, several prominent NBA players have openly discussed their cannabis use and its impact on their performance and overall well-being. Whether for medicinal purposes or as a part of their pre-game routine, these athletes are reshaping the conversation around cannabis in sports.

Kevin Durant, a star player for the Phoenix Suns, has been vocal about his cannabis use. During an interview with David Letterman, Durant revealed his partnership with Weedmaps, aiming to change the narrative around athletes and marijuana. Durant admitted to being high during the interview, highlighting how integrated cannabis is into his life.

Al Harrington, a former Indiana Pacers forward, has become one of the most passionate cannabis advocates in the sports world. Harrington is the CEO and founder of VIOLA, a cannabis brand he launched after witnessing the benefits of cannabis oil for his grandmother's glaucoma. Harrington believes that cannabis can play a significant role in athlete wellness.

Allen Iverson, another NBA legend, has joined forces with Harrington's VIOLA to create The Iverson Collection, his own line of cannabis products. Iverson's endorsement of cannabis is personal; he claims that smoking weed has not only helped him relax but has also enhanced his focus and performance on the court.

Chris Webber, known for his illustrious basketball career, has entered the cannabis industry with his brand, Players Only. Webber's venture is more than a business; it's a lifestyle brand that aims to reduce the stigma surrounding cannabis use. Webber believes that cannabis can be a valuable tool for athletes to manage stress and recover from the physical demands of professional sports.

Matt Barnes, a retired NBA player, has been candid about his cannabis use, even confessing that it was a part of his game day routine. Barnes has dedicated his post-NBA career to helping athletes navigate the stigma of cannabis use. He argues that cannabis can enhance an athlete’s ability to focus and maintain composure during high-pressure games.

Similarly, Stephen Jackson has shared his experiences with cannabis, stating that he used it before every game to stay calm and focused. Jackson co-hosts the podcast "All The Smoke" with Matt Barnes, where they discuss the benefits of cannabis and advocate for its acceptance in the sports community. Jackson's use of cannabis was known to his coach, Don Nelson, indicating a level of acceptance within the team.

Ben Wallace, celebrated for his time with the Detroit Pistons, launched his own cannabis brand, Undrafted, after retiring. Wallace's journey with cannabis began during his playing days, where it helped him manage pain and maintain his performance. His brand aims to inspire other athletes and highlight the positive effects of cannabis.

Steve Nash, another basketball legend, attributes his post-retirement wellness to cannabis. Nash prefers Indica strains, which help him with sleep and relaxation. He believes that cannabis can play a crucial role in an athlete’s recovery process, contributing to overall performance enhancement.

J.R. Smith found cannabis to be his saving grace during the 2020 Orlando Bubble. Smith recalls that many players performed at their best when using cannabis, as it helped them relax and focus. His experience during the Bubble challenged the stigma that cannabis impairs athletic performance.

Lastly, Cliff Robinson, who transitioned from the court to the cannabis industry, founded Uncle Cliffy. Robinson was a long-time advocate for cannabis law reform and believed that cannabis helped him deal with pain and anxiety throughout his career. His brand is dedicated to educating others about the benefits of cannabis.

These athletes' stories underscore a growing acceptance of cannabis as a legitimate aid for athletic performance and wellness. As they continue to advocate for cannabis use, they are not only changing the game but also paving the way for future generations of athletes to integrate cannabis into their routines.

Do you think cannabis can positively impact an athlete’s performance?

  • Yes, it helps with focus and relaxation.

  • No, it could impair their abilities.

  • Unsure, more research is needed.


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