Film and TV

Chauncey Billups: Some Teammates Played Better After Smoking Pot

Chauncey Billups, a Denver native, is the greatest basketball player ever from Colorado — a star for the CU Buffs and the Denver Nuggets, one of several NBA teams for which he played in a long and distinguished career (including the Detroit Pistons, with whom he won a 2004 championship and a finals MVP).

And now, he's joined the chorus of former athletes supporting the use of medical marijuana in pro sports.

On top of that, Billups not only confirmed that some of his former teammates smoked marijuana before games, but that he thought many played better after doing so.

In a recent discussion on NBA Countdown, the ESPN show on which he's a regular panelist (and a notably thoughtful and incisive one at that), Billups spoke about marijuana's effectiveness as a pain medication, particularly in comparison with addictive opioids.

Then he got personal.

"I honestly played with players — I'm not going to name names, I'm obviously not.... But I wanted them to actually smoke," he said. "They played better like that."

Billups added, "Big-time anxiety, a lot of things that can be effected: It brought them down a little bit, helped them out, helped them focus in a little bit on the game plan. I needed them to do that. I would rather them do that sometimes than drink."

The comments are now being highlighted on marijuana-related websites such as Cannabis Now, raising Billups's profile as a pro-MMJ advocate — and given that he's from the Mile High City, that makes perfect sense. In the meantime, let the speculation begin about which Nuggets (Carmelo? Kenyon Martin? Birdman?) blazed up before hitting the hardwood.

Here's the discussion that features Billups's comments, which begin at just after the two-minute mark in the clip.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts