What do Chris Webber, Lamar Odom, Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Shawn Kemp, Jason Williams, Keon Clark, David Harrison, Lee Nailon, Joe Forte, Qyntel Woods, Zach Randolph, Eddie Griffin, Mookie Blaylock, Rodney Buford, Maurice Taylor, Sean Williams, JamesOn Curry, Shawne Williams, Marcus Camby, Isaiah Rider, Damon Stoudamire, Cliff Robinson, Rasheed Wallace, Brad Miller, Josh Howard, O.J. Mayo, Joakim Noah, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Vernon Maxwell, Scottie Pippen, Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mark Cuban, and Scott Skiles have in common?
If you guessed that all of the NBA figures above have admitted to smoking or have been accused or/charged with possession of marijuana — that is correct.
Yes, there are players above that never lived up to their potential like Zach Randolph, Joe Forte, JamesOn Curry, Isaiah Rider, Qyntel Woods, and Rasheed Wallace.
[Insert lazy, lack of ambition joke here]
And some of the players (Rider, Eddie Griffin, Woods, Randolph, Wallace, and Shawn Kemp) have had an assortment of off-court issues.
But Scottie Pippen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Robert Parish are three of the NBA’s top 50 players of all-time. Mark Cuban is an NBA owner. Chris Webber had a Hall of Fame worthy career. Allen Iverson’s career is deserving of the hall as well. And Scott Skiles is one of the most no-nonsense, in-your-face coaches in the league.
Marijuana use isn’t an NBA issue. It’s a cultural issue. And it encompasses the United States as a whole. Especially the young demographic that constitutes the NBA.
Interviewed by the Rocky Mountain News in 2005, Shareef Abdur-Rahim said, “I think the NBA is a microcosm of society as a whole, so you tell me what percentage of society uses marijuana and I’d say the NBA is right around there.”
I agree to a certain extent.
“Society as a whole” isn’t comprised of millionaires under the age of 35 like the NBA is.
But I do think it’s wrong for critics to paint all of the players who have admitted to or have been caught smoking marijuana with the same brush.
There are marijuana smokers like Isaiah Rider and Keon Clark who have been in and out of the legal system since their time in the NBA. And then there are current or former marijuana smokers like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jabbar scored more points than anyone in NBA history and has written bestselling books. Guys like Marcus Camby and Lamar Odom are known for their charitable foundations. And Brad Miller, Cliff Robinson, and Mookie Blaylock are/were for the most part — consummate professionals.
I’m not condoning the use of marijuana. And I’m certainly not trying to drag the players, coaches, and owner above through the mud.
Everyone makes mistakes. Let’s see how Chalmers and Arthur respond to their mistake before writing them off as two more of the NBA’s troublemakers. Especially since a few of the players who have been associated with marijuana before them have been worth the trouble.