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Draft your All-Reefer team of NBA trail blazers

October 19, 2021

To celebrate the league’s progress on pot, help us honor the retired hoopers that continue to blaze the trail


Earlier this month, the NBA announced it will continue to turn a blind eye to cannabis for the 2021-2022 campaign. The league stopped random testing in the 2020 bubble and have stuck with the decision ever since. The policy is expected to become a permanent part of the next collective bargaining agreement.

The current agreement between the Players Association (NBPA) and the NBA will expire after the 2023-2024 season. But cannabis could become a hot-button issue for both players and the league with both sides eligible to opt out after 2022-2023.

Viola owner and retired pro Al Harrington said yesterday that three active “top-20 stars” told him they would be speaking out about cannabis later this year.

Past generations paid the price

Between drug tests, criminal charges and racist myths that weed stunts leadership and work ethic, many NBA legends had to keep their love for the plant on the low. Other budding stars had their careers sidetracked because of stigmas about the plant.

In celebration of another 420-friendly season, Leafly saw it fit to honor the high-flying pioneers who paved the way for this moment. Without further ado, light one up for Leafly’s inaugural All-Reefer team.

Don’t forget to @Leafly on social with the starting five you would pick to roll one with!

*Editor’s note: No active players were incriminated in the making of this piece


Matt Barnes reacts after being fouled while driving the lane for a basket, Feb. 29, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes

These retired bad boys and active influencers named their hit podcast “All The Smoke” for good reason.

Their reputations for unapologetic tokes and takes may have limited their opportunities in the league, but those same traits have made them superstar journalists and entrepreneurs today.


Late cannabis pioneer Cliff Robinson drives past Michael Jordan in 1992. (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)

Cliff Robinson

Uncle Cliff was a cannabis pioneer as both a player and an entrepreneur. He was one of the first pros to go on the record admitting he used before practice and games to deal with performance anxiety.

He also joined Al Harrington as one of the first players with his own line of products. Sadly, Robinson passed in 2020 after a battle with lymphoma.


From left, Boston Celtics’ Bill Walton, Larry Bird and Robert Parish share a laugh on the bench in the final minutes of the game at the Boston Garden on March 15, 1987. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Robert Parrish and Bill Walton

These Hall of Fame big men were proud hippies at a time when smoking pot and promoting peace were radical ideas to mainstream America.

It’s not hard to believe Walton smoked big dope if you’ve heard his play-by-play commentary, but many hoop heads are surprised to learn that Parrish wasn’t nicknamed The Chief at random.

The Celtic great made headlines in 1993 after a Fed-Ex package with a few ounces of green was intercepted by drug-sniffing dogs en route to his home.


Chris Webber laughs on the court during the game. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Chris Webber

The Fab Five legend produced a song for Nas titled “Blunt Ashes” when he was still playing in 2006. He also lost a FILA endorsement for getting stopped by U.S. Customs with weed on a return trip from Puerto Rico.

Now, he’s launching a cannabis compound in his hometown of Detroit complete with cultivation, consumption zones and job training from Cookies U.


shawn-kemp-cannabis-store-mural
An 80-foot-long mural by artist Jeff Jacobson (aka Weirdo) graces the wall of Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis. The former Sonics all-star is opening his first cannabis store in Seattle a few blocks from the Space Needle. (Mural photo courtesy Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis)

Shawn Kemp

Vertically speaking, the Reign Man was high above the rim for the majority of his career.

He also dealt with legal and professional consequences because of his cannabis use. But in 2020, the devastating 90’s dunker made history when he became a stakeholder in one of Seattle’s cannabis dispensaries.


Allen Iverson (Courtesy of Viola)

Allen Iverson

The Answer told the “All The Smoke” podcast about a surprise check-in from legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson back when he was a freshman on campus. Iverson still remembers rushing to the bathroom to try to wash the high off of his face in the sink before his mentor noticed he had hit the weed.


Alvin Gentry (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Alvin Gentry

The veteran coach was outed as 420-friendly by a hilarious tweet from last spring that has since disappeared.

The former Pelicans chief was reportedly protesting with the people of New Orleans when he surprised a random smoker by creeping up and asking, “got some good weed going there, huh?”

If you want a hit, just ask, Coach! There’s no way they drug test skippers if our next pick didn’t get clipped!


Phil Jackson (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Phil Jackson

The 13-time NBA champion famously used cannabis, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms during his playing and coaching careers. But did he ever get Kobe or Mike to hit a jay before practice?


Rasheed Wallace (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rasheed Wallace

The star of the 2000’s infamous Portland “Jail Blazers” squad was definitely smoking on Oregon’s finest alongside teammates Damon Stoudamire, Bonzi Wells and the high-flying J.R. Rider, whose name JAY-Z once rhymed with “marijuana” on a freestyle.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was honored at half-time after recently receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Barack Obama. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Kareem Abdul-Jabar

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer was a pioneer for social justice and cannabis reform, defying stereotypes about athletes, smokers and Black men at a time when blatant acts of racism were still the norm.

The 7-footer was charged and fined for weed multiple times after retiring, but he remains a steady advocate to this day.


Kenyon Martin (Matt Campbell/AFP – Getty Images)

Kenyon Martin

Martin once estimated that 85% of the league was using cannabis, a stat that’s weighed heavily in recent discussions about pulling back testing and other restrictions.

Weed never stopped Martin from thriving in the league for 15 seasons, nor from raising a son with a promising pro career ahead of him.


Zach Randolph (50) fights for the ball. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Zach Randolph

This dominant big man avoided jail time in 2017 by taking a plea deal for possession with intent to distribute.

We don’t know if Zach was moonlighting as an underground kingpin, or if his personal packs are just big enough to supply a small town. Either way, that’s his business. And his charges should be expunged along with all other non-violent cannabis offenders.


Steve Nash (G Flume/Getty Images)

Steve Nash

The NBA’s only Canadian-born MVP went to college in the Bay Area, so he’s no stranger to the tree.

In 2020 he told “All The Smoke,” “Cannabis really improved my life. Now I have more energy to be a dad because I get those hours of sleep… It’s becoming legalized and we are educated enough that (there is no) stigma around it.”

Now, Nash is the head coach of the only active player whose name is short for an eighth (3.5 grams) of flowers.


Monta Ellis during an NBA game at ORACLE Arena on December 5, 2016. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Monta Ellis

Is one of many bright stars whose career faced road bumps with the NBA’s marijuana testing policy. He missed the first five games of the 2017 season because of a positive test and never returned to his former All Star-level form.


JR Smith (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

JR Smith

After managing a 16-year career straight out of high school, Smith is currently majoring in liberal studies while playing NCAA golf at North Carolina A&T, an HBCU in Greensboro, NC.

The New Jersey native won two rings as a pro. He also earned a Sixth Man of the Year award, but faced suspensions because of failed tests in 2013.

People don’t forget! So JR’s name trended on Twitter in 2020 after the news that the NBA was first suspending cannabis tests.

Sounds like the perfect piece to bring your All-Reefer roster full circle!


Don’t forget to @Leafly on social with the starting five you would pick to roll one with!

Calvin Stovall's Bio Image
Calvin Stovall

Calvin Stovall is Leafly's East Coast Editor.

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