Photo via Keith Allison
The NBA’s most recognizable head coach is talking about cannabis again. Two days after welcoming MVP guard Steph Curry back to the champion Golden State Warriors after an ankle sprain-induced eleven-game absence, and one day after the actual Golden State debuted adult-use cannabis sales, coach Steve Kerr gave his blessing to California’s progressive green rush, while simultaneously pleading for more leniency towards the plant in the NBA.
Kerr — a sharpshooting guard who had his own on-court injuries playing alongside Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls in the mid 90’s — has spoken out in favor of medical marijuana before, telling a Bay Area sports podcast in 2016 that he tried using cannabis as a replacement for opiate painkillers after a back surgery left him bedridden for months at a time. While Kerr said that his experimentation with weed was not successful for him personally, he has since openly advocated for medical marijuana access in professional sports.
“I tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I'm not the expert on this stuff,” Kerr told CSN podcast host Monte Poole. “But I do know this: If you're an NFL player, in particular, and you got lot of pain, I don't think there's any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin."
In the year since those initial comments, Kerr has spoke publicly about cannabis on multiple occasions, sticking to his guns in support of medical marijuana access for NBA and NFL players. Still, in every soundbite and interview snippet, Kerr hedges his bets, balking when asked about full-scale legalization and moves to treat cannabis like alcohol, for professional athletes and nine-to-fivers alike.
“I don’t think it makes sense for everybody to use recreational marijuana; I do think it makes sense to use it for specific injuries. I don’t know how that happens or manifests itself, but it would be wise to look into it and I think every sports league would,” Kerr told a scrum of reporters in the days after former NBA Commissioner David Stern came out in support of medical marijuana last year.
Now, with each and every one of the Golden State Warriors players legally allowed to purchase cannabis products mere miles from their Bay Area homes, but barred from using them by their employer, Kerr spoke proudly about California’s historic recreational sales start, while again tiptoeing around the NBA’s own hypocrisy.
“I’m a proponent of it,” Kerr told the Mercury News after a Warriors practice on Tuesday. “I do feel strongly that [cannabis] is a much better option than some of the prescription drugs, and I know that it’s helping a lot of people, which is great.” He also added that while some fans might have reservations about the league accepting reefer, “In terms of selling our business, but the health of the players should be the most important thing.”
The reigning NBA champion head honcho didn’t advocate that his players stop by the local pot shop after practice, but by supporting adult-use cannabis, Kerr has taken another step in the right direction, bringing cannabis further into the NBA’s mainstream conversation and using his position of public power to break down longstanding stigmas around the controversial herb.
As for Steph Curry’s ankle, the four-time all star returned to action after a three-week absence on Saturday by logging his best shooting game of the year, knocking down ten three-pointers on his way to 38 points. Still, we’ll argue all day that a steady treatment of CBD topicals and a few pre-rolls of Platinum Kush could have brought #30 back a few games earlier and boosted that 38-point performance up to an even 50-piece.