Steve Kerr has played and coached on some of the best teams in NBA history over his long career, so he knows all about trying to maintain a healthy body and mind throughout a grueling 82-game schedule — and that doesn’t even include the playoffs, where he’s a mainstay.
Because of Kerr’s extensive resume, his list of awards and championships is only surpassed by the amount of injuries and surgeries his body has endured on its way to the top. The Golden State Warriors Head Coach, who missed nearly half of last season while recovering from two separate back procedures, went on the Warriors Insider Podcast to discuss a range of topics that included pain relief.
“I guess maybe I could even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried [marijuana] twice during the last year and a half when I’ve been going through this pain, this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr told Monte Poole, the show’s host.
“A lot of research, a lot of advice from people, and I have no idea if I would — maybe I would have failed a drug test. I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA, but I tried it, and it didn’t help at all. But it was worth it, because I’m searching for answers on pain. But I’ve tried painkillers and drugs of other kinds, as well, and those have been worse. It’s tricky.”
When Poole followed up and asked if Kerr thought professional sports leagues should explore loosening their stance on medical marijuana, the coach answered emphatically.
“I would hope so, and I’m not a pot person. It doesn’t agree with me. I tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. 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,” Kerr, 51, said.
“And yet, athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal. And there’s like this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine but pot is bad. Now, I think that’s changing. You’re seeing that change in these laws that you’re talking about in different states, including California. But I would just hope that sports leagues are able to look past the perception. I’m sure the NFL is worried that their fans are going to go, ‘All the players are potheads.”
Despite any PR backlash the NFL may face for changing their tune with regards to marijuana, it may be a necessary move. Current and former NFL players deal with a multitude of injuries on a daily basis, some that affect them for the rest of their life. The recklessly incessant manner in which opioid painkillers are prescribed to these athletes is dangerous and irresponsible, and it leads to addiction and further health complications. At the very least, these players should be allowed to access all legal medical options available in their home state, which for many would include marijuana.
Instead of blackballing professional athletes like Eugene Monroe and Ricky Williams, we should be championing their efforts to raise awareness about the benefits of marijuana, which in turn will help in stopping the opiate epidemic America faces today.
In a follow-up interview after the original podcast, Kerr added, “It’s a very important issue to talk about. Having gone through a tough spell over the last year with my own recovery from back surgery, and a lot of pain, I had to do a lot of research. You get handed prescriptions for Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, NFL players, that’s what they’re given. The stuff is awful. The stuff is dangerous. The addiction possibility, what it can lead to, the long term health risks. The issue that’s really important is how do we do what’s best for the players.”