Shawn Kemp Says NBA Players Smoked Weed in His Era to Avoid Pills

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2020

Shawn Kemp, a former NBA basketball player for the Seattle SuperSonics and several other teams, reacts as he talks to reporters about the grand opening of Shawn Kemp's Cannabis, the marijuana dispensary he owns with several business partners, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Former NBA star Shawn Kemp claimed his basketball peers smoked marijuana during their playing careers to deal with the physical toll they put on their bodies.

"When I played, absolutely we smoked pot back in the day when we played," Kemp said to TMZ Sports. "We was responsible with it but we definitely smoked. ... Sometimes guys don't like to pop the pills, some guys, they don't wanna take those chances, so this is another way of taking care of yourself professionally, with doing it the right way."

Kemp opened up a marijuana dispensary in Seattle, where recreational use of the substance is legal. The six-time All-Star told TMZ Sports that marijuana was "the perfect solution" to deal with arthritis and general pain he experiences.

Kemp isn't the first former athlete to advocate for wider usage of marijuana and speak to its benefits for pro athletes.

Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier interviewed former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer in September 2016. Plummer didn't say whether he smoked marijuana during his career but said cannabis was preferable to the opioids and painkillers that are generally given to players to help them cope with injuries.

As part of the B/R x 4/20 project in 2018, a number of former NBA and NFL players opened up about their own marijuana usage.

Kenyon Martin told B/R's Master Tesfatsion he thought around 85 percent of the league smoked marijuana when he played.

In the most recent collective bargaining agreement, the NFL amended its policy on the substance.

Players can no longer be suspended for testing positive. Some argued the change didn't go far enough because positive tests can still result in fines that grow larger with each subsequent offense.