On Friday, Steve Kerr admitted that he tried marijuana a couple times over the last 18 months in order to find a remedy for his back pain, as Chris Haynes of ESPN.com relays. “A lot of research, a lot of advice from people, and I have no idea if I would — maybe I would have failed a drug test,” Kerr said. “I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA, but I tried it, and it didn’t help at all. But it was worth it, because I’m searching for answers on pain. But I’ve tried painkillers and drugs of other kinds, as well, and those have been worse. It’s tricky.”
Kerr added that he hopes that professional sports leagues soften their stance on the substance. “You’re seeing that change in these laws that you’re talking about in different states, including California. But I would just hope that sports leagues are able to look past the perception,” Kerr said.
Kerr’s comments elicited a response from the NBA. Earlier today, the league issued the following statement:
“All of our coaches are drug tested each season. Marijuana is included on our banned substances list. There are medical exceptions to our policy but, in this case, it’s not relevant because Steve said he did not find marijuana to be helpful in relieving his back pain.”
It’s unclear whether Kerr will face discipline from the league as a result of his comments. Regardless, his stance could spark a dialogue, Janie McCauley of the Associate Press writes. Kerr’s players believe their coach can make a difference when it comes to changing rules and the way people think.
“He’s a public figure with some notoriety making a statement,” David West said. “It brings more attention to a cause for something that people feel like there needs to be a shift in the way we monitor it and change things. Obviously somebody of his stature can give a little weight to the argument.”
The NBA is expected to reach an agreement with the National Basketball Players Association on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement sometime this month, though it’s unclear whether the issue of marijuana as a banned substance has been or will be a major topic during negotiations.