The following is an excerpt from High Times magazine's story "Pot and the NBA," found in the December issue of America's favorite dank rag. Super Cool Beas, indeed.
Michael Beasley was fresh off being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The versatile forward missed out on the high that playing with newly signed Miami Heat superstar LeBron James would have provided. But in July, just as he was adjusting to the change in scenery, Timberwolves team president David Kahn inexplicably revealed a private conversation that he'd had with Beasley, telling the local Twin Cities ESPN Radio affiliate: "He's a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana and has told me that he's not smoking anymore, and I told him that I would trust him as long as that was the case."
The NBA wasted little time fining the T-Wolves organization $50,000; Kahn was personally hit with an additional $50K fine. The association is always quick to distance itself from the sticky-icky, at least in the public eye, since it doesn't mesh with the family-friendly corporate image that the NBA seeks to project to the mainstream. Yet the reality is that marijuana has long been as much a part of the NBA as the nothing-but-net three-pointer.
As it happens, this wasn't the first awkward run-in that Beasley's had with pot. In September 2008, at the NBA's Rookie Transition Program, the cops showed up at the hotel room of two of his fellow rookies, Mario Chalmers and Darrel Arthur, following a fire alarm. The cops claimed that the room smelled like marijuana, but no pot was found and no charges were filed. Curiously, Chalmers and Arthur were both excused from attending rookie camp and then paradoxically fined $20,000 for "missing" camp. However, they weren't fined or suspended for any drug-related violations, and both later denied any involvement with marijuana.
Even more curiously, ESPN had originally reported that Beasley was also present in the room, but wasn't asked to leave the camp. Then the story was "updated" and all mentions of Beasley were removed from the article. All of these actions are suggestive of a cover-up. The NBA-and its primary media partner, ESPN-seem willing to go to great lengths to disassociate a group of high-profile rookies from marijuana.
But the story doesn't end there. Beasley was later fined $50,000 by the NBA for his involvement in the incident after Heat team president (and legendary coach) Pat Riley forced him to confess to league officials that he had, in fact, snuck out the door when police arrived at the Chalmers/Arthur hotel room.
Less than a year later, in August 2009, Beasley reportedly checked into a Houston rehab center, just days after he posted pictures of himself on Twitter sitting at a table with two plastic baggies that might have contained pot. There has also been speculation that all of the publicity surrounding Beasley and marijuana was actually intended to cover up his use of harder drugs, and that this was the real reason he went to rehab. (After all, "kicking" pot doesn't generally require professional rehabilitation services.)
The Beasley saga is just the latest story linking pot to NBA players, but it wasn't always so. In the 1970s and '80s, the NBA was regarded as a cocaine-fueled league, the nadir of which came with the death of 22-year-old Len Bias in 1986. Bias had just been drafted two days earlier by the world-champion Boston Celtics, and died after a night of cocaine indulgence.
For more of this story, go to High Times.