Chauncey Billups, whose rise to NBA lore was his reputation for making big shots (hence his nickname Mr. Big Shot) in the playoffs, has caused a stir around the NBA circles for his recent comments surrounding marijuana. Billups, who has been retired since 2014, has advocated that the NBA should lift the ban on marijuana. Generally, Billups believes marijuana aids players, not hinders them. This past Friday, Billups, while on the ESPN NBA Countdown show, spoke on Phil Jackson’s comments on medical marijuana and how former NBA player Jay Williams could have benefited from having marijuana to assist him, instead of relying on pain relief medication and Oxycontin to help him heal.
During an ESPN NBA Countdown segment on Friday, former NBA All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups and fellow panelists Tracy McGrady, Jalen Rose, Michelle Beadle discussed with Phil Jackson’s support of medical marijuana for players, along with how the NBA Players Association and the NBA should work together to let players smoke without violations from the league.
“For medicinal use, I think we absolutely need to have that conversation,” Billups said. “The Players Association, they need to talk about that with the NBA, because there’s a lot of science behind it… because we’ve been through a ton of injuries. I’ve seen a piece on Jason Williams, who was the No. 2 pick in the draft, that talked about him being addicted to Oxycontin and pain pills, and it would have been much better and much easier thing to have marijuana as a relief.”
Billups also encourages the NBA to look into lifting the ban on marijuana it’s being used as a more safe alternative, not the hazardous drug portrayed by the media. Billups briefly explained that he used marijuana before games as a tool to relax. As it worked for him, Billups encouraged teammates to try their hand at using it, too. The start of any professional event for the players involved can cause some nerves and a lot of anxiety, so Billups encouraged his teammates to smoke marijuana as a vice to relax. A heightened focus, according to Billups, was one of the perks that smoking pregame brought Billups and his teammates.
Billups even claimed that some of his former teammates’ performances on the court would improve after they smoked weed before games. He says he encouraged them to do it to quell their anxiety issues before a game’s tipoff. “I had teammates…I actually wanted them to smoke, they played better like that. It helped them focus in on the gameplan…I needed them to do that. I would rather them [smoke] sometimes than drink,” he said.
In the above clip above, Billups mentioned that the NBA should look into lifting the marijuana ban because the science says that marijuana deescalates instead of escalates behavior. If that’s the case, especially with the NBA powers that be listening to one of their former star players admitting he was a regular user of marijuana before games, the NBA should at least consider what former and present NBA players have to say. What could also help the NBA, too, is to look into how many of their star players are losing money and missing games because of the drug. Not to mention the plethora of states who have decided to legalize marijuana and not label it as a hazardous drug.
Whether the NBA will look into it, though, is a question that remains to be answered. With the rising trend of players being suspended, plus former players speaking out on how they utilize the drug makes for an interesting plea to the league to review their policy. But, a conversation between the leagues and their employees could happen eventually. It’s just when it will happen is the only unknown.
[Featured Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]