'I had to be the bad guy': Matt Barnes gets ring, reflects on career
Recently retired NBA veteran Matt Barnes sat down for a group interview with Bleacher Report, joined by three other former league vets who shared a common interest.
That interest? A passion for marijuana, including the opinion that it should be allowed in the league, with Barnes even admitting that he would smoke joints on game day.
Posted to YouTube on Friday, April 20, it was part interview, part smoke session as Barnes, Al Harrington, Kenyon Martin and Cuttino Mobley got high while discussing marijuana usage among NBA athletes.
Barnes admitted that he used marijuana frequently during his playing career — from high school to the NBA and all levels in between — and described his routine.
"I'm telling on myself, but I don't give a (expletive) now," Barnes told Bleacher Report interviewer Master Tesfatsion. "We'd have shoot-around, I'd go home, smoke a joint, take a nap, wake up, take a shower — shower was important, shower would wake me back up — eat, and go to the game," Barnes said. "All my best games I was medicated."
Barnes — who played for the Kings, Golden State Warriors and is an alum of Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks — added that his dad used to grow marijuana, so he started smoking it when he was 14, saying he'd "steal it, like, fresh off the plant." That continued through his NBA career, which started with the 2002 draft and included stints with Sacramento in 2004-05 and 2016-17.
"It wasn't every single game, but in 15 years, it was a lot."
Barnes announced his retirement last December; he was with the Golden State Warriors at the time.
Note: The video interview includes some profanity.
The four cannabis advocates discussed the prevalence of marijuana in the modern NBA, with Martin estimating that "about 85 percent" of active and/or recently retired players smoke. "People you wouldn't think," Martin added.
Barnes and Martin agreed the cannabis culture was especially prevalent in the early- to mid-2000s and continues now. Barnes claimed it's not just players — "GMs, coaches, presidents ... Some of the people that are cracking whips and suspending us are closet weed-smokers."
Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn't in that closet. Last season, Kerr openly discussed his use of medical marijuana to deal with severe back pain, which has sidelined him from coaching Golden State during the playoffs. He said in a local podcast that while marijuana didn't help with his pain, he still hopes the league relaxes its rules regarding the substance, ESPN reported.
Debate continues on marijuana use among pro athletes. Friday marks the first 4/20 since California legalized recreational marijuana Jan. 1. Still illegal at the federal level, marijuana use is banned in the NBA, NFL and MLB, with violations typically leading to suspension.
In the NFL, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is one notable example of that debate. Gordon received an eight-game suspension for the 2014 season after testing positive for marijuana. Many sports fans and pundits said the punishment was too severe, especially when compared to the lengths of suspensions given for other types of violations.
Gordon told media in late 2017 that he smoked weed and drank alcohol before "probably every game of my career," between college and the NFL.