Warriors

Kerr acknowledges marijuana use for chronic back pain, advocates for change

Kerr acknowledges marijuana use for chronic back pain, advocates for change

There were days and nights when he was in agony, when no medication – and he tried many – could stop the headaches from corroding his mere existence.

So Steve Kerr tried something once considered radical.

The Warriors coach sought relief in weed.

“I guess maybe I can even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried it twice during the last year and a half, when I’ve been going through this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr said Friday on The Warriors Insider Podcast.

“(After) a lot of research, a lot of advice from people and I have no idea if maybe I would have failed a drug test. I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA.”

During the summer of 2015, Kerr underwent two surgeries on his back, the latter procedure in part to alleviate the pain from the first. Still, the pain continued. He arrived at training camp to coach the defending champions and two days later realized he was not up to the grind.

Kerr, now 51, took a leave of absence that lasted nearly four months, during which time he sought comfort through various painkillers and treatments.

He returned to coaching in January 2016, but it was during his absence from the team that he reached the same conclusion as many medical professionals.

“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr said. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”

Vicodin (hydrocodone) and other pain relievers come with side effects – including nausea, vomiting, constipation and blurred vision – that can be even more damaging to the body. Moreover, painkillers invite the risk of addiction that, for some, can lead directly to death.

“I know enough, especially over the last couple years, having gone through my own bout with chronic pain, I know enough about this stuff – Vicodin is not good for you,” said Kerr, who still has experiences discomfort. “It’s way worse for you than pot, especially if you’re looking for a painkiller and you’re talking about medicinal marijuana, the different strains what they’re able to do with it as a pain reliever.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before the NBA and NFL and Major League Baseball realize that.”

Marijuana has been legalized in some form by 26 states and the District of Columbia. It has been used to treat patients suffering from chronic or acute pain. Yet it remains stigmatized in certain segments of American society.

“There’s this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine, but pot is bad,” Kerr said, explaining that some folks continue to resist the notion that pot is somehow more treacherous than, say, alcohol, while others have studied the subject and become advocates.

“I would hope,” Kerr said, “especially for these NFL guys, who are basically involved in a car wreck every Sunday – and maybe four days later, the following Thursday, which is another insane thing the NFL does – I would hope that league will come to its senses and institute a different sort of program where they can help these guys get healthier rather than getting hooked on these painkillers.”

Giannis' NBA All-Star Game block on LeBron James had Steph Curry hyped

giannislebronblock.jpg
USATSI

Giannis' NBA All-Star Game block on LeBron James had Steph Curry hyped

Here's a sentence I didn't think I would write Sunday: Officiating decisions in the NBA All-Star Game brought out plenty of passion.

Not just for degenerate gamblers, mind you. The NBA's format change, where the winner had to score 24 more points (in honor of Kobe Bryant) in the fourth quarter than the leading score of the third, led to one of the best finishes to an All-Star Game in recent memory. The All-Stars brought it on defense, with Kyle Lowry drawing multiple offensive fouls. The intensity was perhaps best defined by Giannis Antetokounmpo guarding fellow All-Star captain and namesake LeBron James in isolation. 

Antetokounmpo's block on James originally was ruled a goaltend, prompting vehement disagreement from injured Warriors star Steph Curry watching with his wife Ayesha on vacation. Steph's reaction, posted on Ayesha's Instagram story, was catnip for Giannis-to-the-Warriors truthers. 

"Review it!" Curry, who played for Team Giannis in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, shouted. "That's not goaltending!"

Curry hasn't played since breaking his left hand just before Halloween, but the two-time MVP sent Warriors fans into a speculative frenzy when he appeared to say "Let's do it" to Antetokounmpo after Bucks beat the Dubs at Chase Center last month. Curry insisted he wasn't recruiting another lanky swingman, telling Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes he talked to Antetokounmpo about playing "Player Unknown's Battlegrounds."

Antetokounmpo, in case you haven't heard, can become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. Teams reportedly already are clearing the decks ahead of his free agency, including the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors. NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole wrote last month that the Warriors will be among the Greek superstar's suitors and do all they can to clear enough salary-cap space beforehand. 

[RELATED: Siakam jokes about Raps' anti-Steph defense in All-Star Game]

There are hurdles to clear. The Warriors already have four players (Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins) signed to max contracts, for one. They can't exactly bet on the same salary-cap spike that left enough room to sign Kevin Durant in 2016, either, considering the league's television contracts are a half-decade away from expiring and commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA expects to lose "hundreds of millions" of dollars China's backlash to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's support of Hong Kong protestors. 

Still, after seeing Sunday's shockingly competitive fourth quarter (this was an All-Star Game, after all), anything is possible in the NBA. 

Pascal Siakam jokes about using box-and-1 defense in NBA All-Star Game

siakamstephusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Pascal Siakam jokes about using box-and-1 defense in NBA All-Star Game

Pascal Siakam was ready to pull from the playbook his Toronto Raptors used to try to slow down Warriors guard Steph Curry ... in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game? 

Kawhi Leonard, Siakam's former Raptors teammate, channeled Curry at the United Center on Sunday. The 2019 NBA Finals MVP made eight 3-pointers Sunday, and a mic'd-up Siakam joked that the Nick Nurse-coached Team Giannis would turn to a strategy Nurse's Raptors briefly used against Curry last June: The box-and-1 defense. 

"No more 3s, bro!" Siakam joked. 

"Y'all gonna deny me?" Leonard laughed. 

"Box-and-1!" 

The Raptors used the strategy against Curry in Game 2 of the NBA Finals after Klay Thompson left with an injury. Kevin Durant hadn't returned at that point, either, leaving Curry as the Warriors' best -- and, arguably, only -- offensive option. 

Curry was held off the scoresheet in that fourth quarter, and the two-time MVP didn't attempt a single shot. He called the defense "janky" after the Warriors' win to even the series, but the Raptors again used the box-and-1 in a Game 4 win and kept Curry occupied with multiple defenders all series. The Warriors' depleted roster didn't help matters, but the Raptors' containment of Curry -- along with Leonard's MVP performance -- allowed Toronto to win its first NBA title. 

[RELATED: Dubs' Toscano-Anderson visits pivotal stop on NBA journey]

Siakam's joke didn't come to fruition Sunday, and it might not have worked anyway. Leonard led Team LeBron to a 157-155 All-Star Game win under the new format, scoring a game-high 30 points and winning the first-ever Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP. 

The fourth quarter got pretty competitive Sunday, with the All-Stars playing to a set score -- "first to 157," just as you did growing up -- rather than counting down the clock. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry even took multiple charges! We'll have to wait until (at least) next year to see if that competitiveness extends to truly employing a Steph-stopping defense.