Medicinal marijuana should be permissible for professional athletes — it’s relatively easy to make the case for legal recreational usage, too — but it’s obviously not like the ban on weed really serves as a be-all, end-all deterrent. LaMarcus Aldridge of the Blazers appeared on Jim Rome’s Showtime program last week, and Rome tried to bait the Blazers forward into a bloggable soundbite by asking what percentage of NBA players would fail a drug test if they were surprised with it tomorrow morning. “Zero percent,” Aldridge quipped.
The 6’10” shot blocker was leaving AV nightclub in Hollywood this weekend … when we asked him if he thought the NBA would ever ease up on players using marijuana. Serge’s response: “I don’t know … I’ve never used it so I don’t know.”
To a degree, the Miami Heat couldn’t help but get caught up in that swirl (but not the smoke). First, because they were involved in the last game in Denver when marijuana sales still were illegal, and second, because two members of the team also are officers in the National Basketball Players Association. For now, and for the foreseeable future, the NBA will continue to stand for NoBodyAllowed when it comes to partaking in Colorado’s newest participant sport, with the collective-bargaining agreement calling for mandatory testing and penalties for usage. “Nothing,” a league spokesman said, “has changed.”
But then I think about David Harrison. He’s one of the greatest basketball players in University of Colorado history, 13th all time in scoring, ninth in rebounding. He was ahead of the curve too, outspoken about NBA players smoking pot, which he did primarily for pain relief due to a shoulder injury (and also because, well, pot makes people feel awesome). But he’s now a 7-foot pariah. After serving a five-game suspension for pot use, and actually being league-mandated to go to rehab for pot, his NBA career flamed out. “They don’t see me as a commodity. They kind of see me as a crazy person, I guess,” said the 31-year-old Harrison, who’s holding onto his fleeting NBA dream. ” ‘The Hunger Games’ is pretty much an anecdote of being an athlete. Gladiators. You show disdain for the government or the rules, they’re going to make an example out of you the best they can, to teach the thousands of people watching on TV the lesson they’re trying to teach you.”