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Kevin Durant wants to see marijuana taken off the NBA’s banned substances list

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Like some other outdated ideas that had become the law of the land, attitudes and the legality of marijuana use are changing around the nation as younger generations come to power. Currently, 11 states have legalized recreational use, and all but three other states have done some combination of decriminalization and allowing it for medical use.

Sports, always a mirror to society (for both good and bad) is changing as well. Marijuana is no longer a banned substance in Major League Baseball. In the NHL it is technically banned but there are no punishments for use.

However, in the NBA a third positive test can lead to a suspension for five games — Michael Beasley, Nerlens Noel, Thabo Sefolosha, and J.R. Smith have been hit with that in recent years. Current players have estimated that between half and 85 percent of the players in the league use (I’d guess on the higher end of that range).

Kevin Durant thinks its time for the NBA to take pot off the banned substance list, as he said in the — not coincidentally named — “All The Smoke” podcast recently (hat tip to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News for listening to the pod and writing it up).

“We start getting people out of jail for marijuana. That’s the next step,” Durant said. “And just keep going. But it’s a plant that’s put here for a reason, and that’s to bring us together. Hopefully it happens (removing marijuana from the banned substance list), especially in the NBA.”

Durant went on to compare weed to caffeine.

“Everybody on my team drinks coffee every day. Taking caffeine every day. Or guys go out to have wine after games or have a little drink here and there. Marijuana should be in that tone,” Durant said. “Why are we even talking about? It shouldn’t even be a conversation now. So hopefully we can get past that and the stigma around it and know that it does nothing but make people have a good time, make people hungry, bring people together — that plant brings us all together.”

Just for transparency, we should note Durant is an investor in two marijuana businesses.

That doesn’t make him wrong. The NBA legal team would want to note that marijuana is currently a schedule 1 controlled substance in the United States, meaning federal law equates it to heroin or cocaine or LSD. That’s not something likely to change under the current administration. The NBA can just sit back and wait for the federal government and a few states to catch up with everyone else, make pot legal, and make it easy on them going forward.

Which is not what an actually progressive league would do.

A progressive league would follow Durant’s suggestion and take it off the banned substance list.

While today’s NBA players take fewer anti-inflammatories, pain killers, and other prescribed drugs than the players a generation ago, they are still prevalent. Marijuana use is not going to eliminate the need for those drugs, but it could reduce the need. That would need to be studied, but there’s logic to it. And anything that moves players off of those more addictive, more damaging prescribed medications is a good thing.

Durant is on the right track. It just likely will take the league a little while to catch up.

 

NBA players reportedly to take part in televised NBA 2K tournament Friday

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If we can’t watch NBA players on the court, at least we can watch them control their digital selves and teammates in a live basketball tournament.

ESPN plans to broadcast an NBA 2K tournament with only NBA players at the controllers, a story broken by Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports. The hope is to have it air Friday, with the players competing from their homes around the country.

The NBA is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament that will feature the league’s sharpest video gamers and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Players competing against their peers in the comfort of their own homes could offer a distraction for fans who are missing the game and a little competition.

The league is still finalizing some details for the tournament, but each team is expected to have a representative, sources said.

Esports are incredibly popular and growing as a spectator sport, both in person and on Twitch and other platforms. With there being a pent-up demand for sports programming, this seems a smart attempt to draw eyeballs. Even people who are non-esports viewers could tune in just to check it out, because it’s that or rewatching Tiger King.

You can bet that if it works, we will see a lot more of it in the future.

(Inside baseball note: I would love to see the emails/texts flying around ESPN about Yahoo breaking a story about what is coming in their network.)

 

Shaquille O’Neal: I had no idea what was happening with Joe Exotic of Tiger King

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On a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq” former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal said that “he had no idea” what was happening at the zoo run by Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic was recently made famous through the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.

Footage of O’Neal appeared in the first episode of the show and was shown taking photographs with the animals.

The documentary also showed a cut of O’Neal on TNT saying “Shoutout to Exotic Joe. I got two more tigers.”

On his podcast, O’Neal explained:

“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with (the) tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of 19 different charges. Those charges included murder-for-hire plot, illegally selling endangered species and other animal-related offenses.

O’Neal clarified that he never bought any animals, but often donates to charities that help animals. He also made it clear that he’s not friends with Joe Exotic, nor anyone involved in the trade of endangered species.

“I don’t harm tigers,” O’Neal said. “I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”

Report: Brooklyn Nets looking to hire a blue-chip head coach

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When the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in early-March, the team installed Jacque Vaughn as the interim head coach.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that’s a short-term appointment. On his podcast “Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective”, the reporter said the Nets are looking to hire a coach with a track record of NBA success.

“One of the things that has been expressed sort of the grapevine, that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators, is that Durant and Irving would like a blue-chip coach. I don’t know what this says about the way they thought about Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”

Names linked to the Brooklyn opening are Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, and both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy.

Atkinson leaving Brooklyn was a surprise, considering he had led the Nets back to the playoffs in 2019. That success came after a three-year rebuild. That process was kicked off when general manager Sean Marks hired Atkinson to lead the on-court development. Under Marks and Atkinson, the Nets developed several players who had been given up on by other teams.

Brooklyn was 28-34 when Atkinson was let go. The Nets had gone 2-0 under Vaughn before the NBA suspended play in mid-March.

Rumor: NBA considering resuming 2020 season in a single site with shortened playoffs

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The NBA is determined to salvage what they can of the 2019-20 season. That includes drastically adjusting the playoff schedule per Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Among proposals being considered are best-of-three playoff series. The NBA has all but rejected a single-game elimination tournament. That would only be considered as a last resort per Berman.

One of the proposals on the table is gathering the entire league in one site to conclude the season. This proposal would involve playing games without fans present, but televising the contests. That would involve a 5-to-7 game regular season, followed by the playoffs.

Sites rumored to be under consideration are Las Vegas, Orlando, Hawaii, Atlantic City, Louisville and the Bahamas. Any site would have to have basketball facilities, as well as well as plenty of room to house the teams in a closed environment.

One league official was quoted by Berman as saying “Nothing is off the table.” Another told Berman “They’re very determined to have a champion.”