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’I’m actually high right now,’ Kevin Durant talks weed with David Letterman

The NBA superstar will open up about cannabis use for first time on Netflix later this week, even though his league still (technically) forbids THC

This coming Friday, May 20, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant will take one giant leap for cannabis users everywhere. No pro athlete of his stature has publicly discussed smoking weed while still at the top of their game. Durant breaks that taboo in an interview with David Letterman taped for My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Letterman’s Netflix series. 

Durant is considered by many the best basketball player in the world right now, and a shoe-in for the Basketball Hall of Fame after he retires. So his advocacy is a long-awaited game-breaker for normalization. KD’s choice to speak will take the burden off less established players who still fear association with the plant could harm their careers.

ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith has made big bucks mocking athletes for failing to “stay off the weed” over the years. But there’s not much for him to mock now that the man he calls the world’s best hooper admits he has been getting high since he was 22.

In a clip from an interview that premiers Friday (May 20), Durant tells Letterman why he likes to smoke weed.

Burning down the stigma

Durant, now 33, knows he is blazing a trail that few could have foreseen when he entered the league in 2007. Even as one of the NFL’s top rushers in the 2000s, Durant’s fellow University of Texas Longhorn Ricky Williams sacrificed prime playing years just to stay close to the plant. 

Williams now runs the Highsman cannabis company—named for the Heisman trophy he won in college—which is aimed at normalizing cannabis use for sports viewers who prefer smoking buds to drinking Buds. 

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In an interview earlier this year, Williams said his legendary senior season at Texas started rough on and off the field. His girlfriend broke up with him and got with the team’s quarterback. He was feeling down on himself, and it showed on the field. Then his roommate pulled a bong out and set him on a historic path.

“I went up to my room and I laid on the bed. And I noticed that I wasn’t obsessing about the bad game. I wasn’t obsessing about my girl. I just was feeling good. And then my mind started to think about positive things… True story, next two weeks of that season, (I ran for) back-to-back 300-yard games.”

Ricky Williams on how cannabis impacted his Heisman-winning season at the University of Texas.

Not long ago, any association with weed could derail careers and endorsement deals, turning fan favorites like Ricky Williams into punchlines. Williams retired from football in 2004 after a series of failed cannabis tests. He returned a year later, only to be suspended and publicly ridiculed in 2006 for more failed tests.

“(A former coach) explained that it was basically for the league’s reputation,” Williams said in March. “You know: In the 1980s there was a big DARE program and anti-drug sentiment in our country. It was really about protecting the image of the league.”

In 2009, headlines even tried to scandalize squeaky clean NBA star LeBron James for admitting that he and his high school teammates smoked during his junior year.

Ricky Williams observes a cannabis grow.(Courtesy of Real Wellness)
Retired NFL great Ricky Williams takes in the good vibes while touring a legal cannabis grow. (Courtesy of Real Wellness)

Durant and Dave swap stoner stories

The new season of Letterman’s Netflix show boasts all-varsity talent like Durant, Cardi B, Ryan Reynolds, and Will Smith (👀).

On Friday, Durant and Letterman will get into the past and the present of their cannabis use. “For decades, it was presented as, ‘Oh Jeez, you’re going to hell,’” Letterman told Durant, recalling old reefer madness stigmas about the long-debunked gateway theory.

“(Legalization) is confusing to a lot of people. You could look around this city in the next year or two, it’s gonna be dispensaries everywhere, where you can actually go buy weed… And It’s even crazier that there are people in jail for 20 years for selling a pound.”

Kevin Durant

Durant said using the plant “clears the distractions out your brain a little bit.” He told Letterman that it “settles you down, like having a glass of wine.”

“So did you smoke today?” Letterman lobbed back in the show’s new trailer.

“I’m actually high right now,” Durant responded calmly.

Letterman went on to share the time he smoked a joint with his girlfriend before attending a pro baseball game. He says he couldn’t shake the thought: “Wow that guy’s standing on a mound of dirt. It’s really a mound, of dirt.”

David Letterman shares a laugh with Kevin Durant in a clip for the new season of Netflix's 'My Next Guest Needs No Introduction." (Screengrab / Netflix)
David Letterman shares a laugh with Kevin Durant in a clip for the new season of Netflix’s ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.” (Screengrab / Netflix)

Durant couldn’t help but chuckle as Letterman reflected on the 70s and 80s strains that used to leave him motionless and stuck in his head. “You’re really a curious person,” Durant observed after Dave’s baseball story.

“Was I smoking the wrong kind of weed?,” asked Letterman.

“No you were smoking the right kind if you were thinking like that,” Durant assured him with a smile.

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Calvin Stovall

Calvin Stovall is Leafly's East Coast Editor.

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