Andre Iguodala’s role as vice president of the National Basketball Players Association comes with many perks, but one of his duties is to explain one of the biggest mysteries among professional sports. The NBA, despite being the most progressive league in professional sports, is still listing marijuana as a banned substance, something the Miami Heat forward had to explain.
“There’s a reason why,” Iguodala told Tom Haberstroh and Monte Poole of NBC Sports. “There’s a stigma that comes with that and with (black athletes). They don’t let stigmas fade with us. They want to keep it where it is.”
Many former NBA players, including the likes of Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, have been pro-cannabis, noting it can have positive effects on recovery from injuries, unlike many opioids that create after-use effects and cause addiction.
Iguodala believes part of the reason the NBA has yet to take the lead in allowing marijuana is the league protecting its brand, and the Heat forward laid out why. NBA teams typically stay at five-star hotels. A group of black players carrying the unmistakable odor of marijuana might be a gash in the league’s reputation, one late commissioner David Stern and current commissioner Adam Silver have worked very hard to repair since those days.
“It might be one guy on the team,” said Iguodala. “But it’s all about the image. That’s the bottom line. That’s why they had the dress code. That’s probably why they haven’t made the shift.”
The dress code has also greatly relaxed since Stern made it a stiff rule. Players no longer have to wear ties or non-athletic shoes as their pre-game attire, which has eventually allowed them to make it into a fashion runway in the past decade.