John Salley advocates marijuana use for pro athletes (Video)

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Kelly Dwyer
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John Salley. (Getty Images)
John Salley. (Getty Images)

Former NBA big man and current radio host and “wellness advocate” John Salley is really, really into getting you to put good things in your body.

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His personal website, Twitter and Instagram accounts are replete with suggestions about how to live the good, healthy life. Salley, a vegetarian and four-time NBA champion, also promotes a “Vegan Vine” brand of wine and a “Vegetarian Starter’s Kit” for those looking to make the jump into a meatless existence and, presumably, a more salubrious lifestyle.

What isn’t mentioned is his insistence that marijuana use, in his estimation, could extend the length of a professional athlete’s career. In the wake of Dallas Cowboy Ezekiel Elliott’s visit to a legal marijuana dispensary, TMZ asked Salley about his views on pot use in professional sports:

The 52-year old Salley’s insistence that he’d “still be playing” in the league if he’d been allowed to smoke pot during his playing career was probably relayed with tongue placed firmly in cheek, but the former Detroit Piston Bad Boy is among plenty that believe that use of marijuana is far preferable to athletes either popping legally-prescribed pills or drinking copious amounts of liquor to help mollify the physical pain and anxiety that usually comes with working as a professional athlete.

The TMZ reporter attempted to bait Salley into relaying that former Detroit and Chicago teammate Dennis Rodman used to smoke marijuana while a member of the Pistons and Bulls, but Salley was quick to disabuse TMZ of that notion.

Rodman famously eschewed weed during his playing days but was known as a heavy drinker, and it has been reported (and seems a bit obvious, sadly) that his struggles with alcohol have continued far past his playing days, which ended partway through the 1999-00 NBA season. Salley’s NBA career ended a few months after Rodman’s, as a bit player on the end of the champion Los Angeles Lakers’ bench at age 35.

That season the defensive-minded center was brought in after three years away from the NBA to act as a cerebral veteran presence on a Laker team that was forced to implement on the fly coach Phil Jackson’s much-needed defensive stylings and share-the-ball philosophy on the offensive side of the ball. Salley, who worked against Jackson’s triangle offense in Detroit and within in it in Chicago, was a massive help despite playing just 381 combined regular season and postseason minutes.

It was during that 1999-00 season, according to the clip above, that Salley first started smoking marijuana, while working under a coach in Jackson that copped to using pot often during his two-championship run with the New York Knicks during the late 1960s and 1970s.

Stigmas are dissolving. The NBA still tests for marijuana and lays down suspensions for repeated offenses, and while the drug is still illegal in most US states, scads of NBA fans would probably prefer their team’s power forward to be caught setting off a hotel room’s smoke detector while taking a toke whilst taking in some ‘Rick and Morty’ following a game on the road to being out downing pint glasses (power forwards are tall, after all) of Screwdrivers until the club screams for last call.

Until the laws do change universally, however, there is always that glass of Vegan Vine to behold. It goes marvelously with that mushroom risotto room service just sent up.

(Hat tip: The Score.)

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!