Bleacher Report is using Friday, April 20, to mark the cannabis-centered holiday of 4/20 by running a series of roundtables and explorations into the consumption of the plant in professional sports.
Former UCLA forward Matt Barnes, a 15-year NBA veteran, was part of a B/R roundtable of former NBA players discussing their use of marijuana during their playing careers. While others said they never smoked before games, Barnes revealed he smoked before every game. As a longtime smoker, it was just part of his daily routine.
“My whole life, really,” Barnes said. “From high school, to college, to the pros. … What I would do is we would have shoot-around, I’d go home, smoke a joint, take a nap, wake up, take a shower — shower was important, shower would wake me back up — eat, and go to the game.”
Fellow panelist and NBA veteran Kenyon Martin put his estimate of players who used cannabis in the league at 85 percent when he played (2000-2015).
“All my best games I was medicated. Like he said, he felt like he couldn’t play that night,” Barnes said in reference to Martin, who had earlier shared a story about how smoking helped alleviate hamstring pain and allowed him to record a double-double in a game that night. “and he smoked and he went and had a great (game). It wasn’t every single game, but in 15 years, it was a lot.”
Al Harrington, who was also part of the roundtable and a 16-year NBA veteran (1998-2014), called cannabis “the most dynamic plant on earth,” citing a personal experience in which he said he encouraged his grandmother to smoke and she became emotional at seeing positive effects on her issues with glaucoma.
“My life was on TV, man,” Barnes said. “My mom dies when I’m playing in Golden State and I play the next day. The day after my mom dies. I get divorced, I have a reality TV lifestyle. My ex-wife is with my former teammate. That’s a lot of (expletive) that would break normal people. But I’m sitting back, smoking a joint, able to laugh at my life because I’m like ‘this is going to be a crazy story when I get older. All the (expletive) I done been through and I didn’t kill myself or I’m not in prison?'”
“I believed in it because like I said I’ve been a longtime smoker and just have known what it’s capable of,” Barnes said when asked about how he perceived increasing legalization efforts in parts of the U.S. “I think it was fear or I mean it’s feared because of the stereotypes we have today. It’s pictured as a gateway drug or a black thing, so to speak.”
“I just knew that ‘I’ma hit that, my back’s gonna feel better, my toe’s gonna feel better, my fingers, I had broke all my fingers, my finger’s gonna be all right.’ I just knew that tomorrow’s gonna be a cool day.”