Not to be Outdone by Steve Kerr, Phil Jackson Admits Marijuana Use


At the end of October, we picked our 2016-17 NBA All-Stoner team and the head coach spot was pretty much a no-brainer — Phil Jackson. The “Zen Master” had written a book in the 1970’s about how marijuana and LSD helped open his mind, a move that would find him labeled a hippie for the rest of his career (much to his chagrin).

Though Jackson’s onetime affinity for weed secured him a spot on our roster, we almost had to make a coaching change on the All-Stoner team a few days ago.

Jackson telling Kerr about the benefits of cannabis / New York Times

Jackson telling Kerr about the benefits of cannabis / New York Times

Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, went on a radio show to discuss a multitude of topics that included the use of painkillers among the NBA ranks. Coach Kerr admitted that over the last couple of years he had used marijuana as a pain reliever in the aftermath of multiple back surgeries. Kerr said while he didn’t experience a ton of benefits from cannabis, he did prefer it to opiate painkillers such as Vicodin, going as far as saying that he thinks NBA players should have the option to choose their pain relief method. His comments made waves across the sports landscape, and here in the front office we simply couldn’t ignore it. A coaching change was in order, and we’d found our new leader in Steve Kerr.

Then, just as quickly as the great Phil Jackson had been ousted, the Billy Martin of fake weed-themed basketball teams stood up and fought for his rightful spot on the squad. We were naive to think a veteran of Jackson’s stature would roll over so easily for a youngblood like Kerr. Of course the Zen Master had a rebuttal up his sleeve.

Jackson, currently the president of the New York Knicks, went on the CBS Sports show “We Need to Talk” on Tuesday for an interview. During the discussion, the topic of Steve Kerr’s marijuana admission came up, and Jackson took the opportunity to take back his proper place as the headiest of head coaches in NBA history by detailing his own experience with cannabis.

“I had back surgery, and the year I was off, I was smoking marijuana during that period of time,” Jackson explained. “I think it was a distraction for me as much as a pain reliever. But I’ve never thought of it as ultimately a pain medication for that type of situation. I know ocular things, stomach, digestive issues and other things, I think it is regarded quite highly.”

The owner of 11 NBA championship rings went on to discuss how various states deciding to legalize marijuana will affect the league going forward.

“We’re in a situation that’s in flux. We have states — Washington, D.C., Colorado — have legalized marijuana. Those are going to raise issues. We also have a testing regimen that we go through in the NBA, so we’re kind of in conflict with what is going to be the law. I see that as a matter of a decision that — I don’t know if we can equate it to gay marriage or whatever else, but it’s a decision that’s going to be made by our population at some point. They’re going to come out and make that decision for us, I think, instead of legislatures trying to make the decision. I think that we have tried to stop it in the NBA. I don’t think we have been able to stop it in the NBA. I think it still goes on and is still a part of the culture in the NBA. I think it is something that we either have to accommodate or figure out another way to deal with it.”

It remains to be seen how the NBA and other sports leagues will handle ongoing marijuana reform, but one thing that will always remain steady is Phil Jackson’s love of marijuana. It is nice to know some things never change.

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Used to write about music for XXL, Elevator, Complex, Genius, and a few other outlets. Follow @LongLiveTheDuke on Twitter if you'd like to read way fewer words by me.

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