Cliff Robinson lost 11 games to marijuana. But the former Trail Blazers player says the plant gave him extra years on the court—and a plan for afterward.
During his 18 seasons in the NBA, the All-Star forward known as "Uncle Cliffy" was suspended three times for pot use.
After his retirement in 2007, Robinson has become an advocate for legalized weed. In January, he announced plans for a line of marijuana products: Uncle Spliffy.
Next month, Robinson will pitch his products at the ArcView Investor Forum in Portland, hoping to get backing not only for marijuana products but also for "a line of active lifestyle branded apparel" and Cliff Robinson's Garden Club, "an exciting and exclusive cannabis club and destination retreat."
WW sat down with Robinson, 49, to talk about Uncle Spliffy, going to North Korea, and the benefits of smoking a joint before working out.
WW: So many celebrities have released lines of weed products. There's Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Tommy Chong. How are you going to break into that market?
Cliff Robinson: I'm going for a whole different market. I'm going for the person that goes on a nice run, that goes on a nice hike, that goes and plays basketball, and wants to really enrich that activity by partaking in a cannabis product before. Or you want to smoke a joint after the activity. It's going to be geared toward the active-lifestyle people.
Do you do that? Go for a run and smoke a joint before?
I love to smoke a joint and go work out. I mean, you want to have somewhat of an enjoyable experience while you're beating yourself up. I think the idea that athletics and cannabis is a bad mix is overblown. It's kind of reefer madness.
Is this the Gatorade of weed?
This is the playbook. Something for before, maybe during, after your experience. We're looking at it as a sports science. Gatorade doesn't have THC infused in it, though. Makes it a little better.
How did you use cannabis when you were in the NBA?
I used it as a way to calm down. I had a little anxiety sometimes. I definitely didn't like pharmaceutical drugs, as far as how they made my stomach feel, so I would use [marijuana]. But you couldn't be really consistent with cannabis use, because of the way they tested. I put myself in a position where I had to be taken off the court, which you're never proud of. But at the same time, I did feel that cannabis was helpful for me. I took the risk.
What is cannabis use like in the NBA right now?
I don't know, because I don't play in the NBA right now.
What about when you did?
You know, when I played, there were guys who smoked cannabis. I don't know the number. There are 32 teams in the NBA. I didn't walk around with a survey. I'm not one to throw other people under the bus as well. I know what I did.
You had an 18-year career in the NBA. The average is, like, five. Did cannabis help?
I stayed away from injury for the most part in my career. I was always on the floor. So I would like to think it played a part in that. I know the hard work that I put on the floor to get there. But as far as how my body recovered, and was able to stay away from injury, I would like to think so. Because I was definitely not one to be in the training room all the time.
A few years ago, you went to North Korea with Dennis Rodman. What was that like?
I wish I had some cannabis then. [Laughs.] As a basketball player, what I do, what I've done for a long time, is go and touch people through basketball. To me, it was just another basketball trip. I didn't go over there as a diplomat, and no one should have looked at it that way. I mean, really? Dennis Rodman takes a basketball team over to North Korea, are you really going to take it that seriously? Really, come on.
Do you still play basketball?
No, I don't play basketball anymore. I still shoot. I think what a lot of guys [in the NBA] have struggled with, and probably myself as well, is finding the next thing. This was a natural fit for me. Why not take something that's been perceived as a negative in my life and through my career and turn it into a positive?