Kevin Durant first tried weed at 22 and still enjoys its benefits a decade later

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Kevin Durant

The admittedly high Brooklyn Nets star tells David Letterman that cannabis “clears the distractions” and is like “having a glass of wine"

National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar Kevin Durant isn’t shy when it comes to cannabis. Indeed, Durant was high while telling David Letterman all about it.

As part of an upcoming interview with Letterman on Netflix’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Durant, 33, was asked when he first smoked cannabis.

He was no kid; he was 22. “To me, it clears the distractions out your brain a little bit, settles you down. It’s like having a glass of wine,” responded the two-time champion and 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player.

“So, did you smoke today?” Letterman, who hosted late-night television talk shows for over three decades, asks in a clip of the new episode, released this week by Netflix.

Durant says yes before adding nonchalantly, “I’m actually high right now,” causing him to smile and Letterman to laugh.

Letterman got high, went to a baseball game and was fascinated that a guy was “standing on a mound of dirt”

Although Letterman doesn’t mention whether or not he still partakes, he relays his own experience with weed in the late-1970s and early-1980s in California when “everybody was doing it.”

He and his then-girlfriend had smoked a joint before attending a New York Yankees-Los Angeles Angels game. The consumption, though, left him reflective and a bit dumbfounded.

While sitting in the stands, “I kept thinking, ‘Wow, that guy’s standing on a mound of dirt. Whoa. It’s actually a mound of dirt.’” He had no idea who won the game.

“Was I smoking the wrong kind of weed?” Letterman asks Durant.

“No, you were smoking the right kind if you’re thinking about something like that,” the basketball star responded, again eliciting laughter from Letterman.

Screen capture of David Letterman asking Kevin Durant about cannabis. /

What is the Weedmaps/Durant teaming trying to do?

But Durant is not just a cannabis consumer. He is also a part of the industry.

His participation, though, is about more than personally clearing distractions. He would like distractions and misconceptions about the industry to get kicked to the curb as well.

As part of his multi-year agreement with Weedmaps, an online marketplace for cannabis consumers and businesses, operated by WM Technology, Inc., Durant is hoping to fight against stigma. Weedmaps is now an official sponsor of Boardroom, the sports media network of Thirty Five Ventures, of which Durant is president.

The teaming involves producing content that helps to “deconstruct the negative stereotypes associated with cannabis while elevating the conversation around the plant’s potential for athlete wellness and recovery,” notes a statement announcing the partnership.

“Now more than ever, there is so much opportunity for growth in the cannabis industry as well as the removal of any remaining stigmas around its use,” Durant said at the time.

Durant set on changing the narrative around athletes and marijuana

Stigma was also mentioned during the interview with Letterman, with Durant noting the partnership with Weedmaps revolves around building “content and trying to figure out ways to change the narrative around athletes and marijuana.”

Although the conversation has come a long way — Letterman pointed out that “for decades, it (cannabis) was presented as, ‘Oh, geez. You’re going to hell’” — more work needs to be done.

It will take time to completely get away from the view that cannabis is a gateway drug, Durant suggests. Still, he has hope that with more U.S. states legalizing the plant and more retail stores opening their doors, views towards the plant will normalize and improve.

Cannabis shouldn’t be any more controversial than coffee

Concerns over marijuana also persist even in the sport he loves. Although some would likely cite the progress made with the NBA not randomly testing players for weed the last two seasons, per Bleacher Report, the league still bans the plant.

The publication notes it’s not known if Durant ever tested positive for cannabis, although it’s clear the 11-time NBA All-Star and future Hall of Famer has never been suspended for any violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Durant noted in 2020 that cannabis should be no more controversial than the legal stimulants or depressants that people regularly use. Everybody on his team drinks coffee or alcohol, he said on an episode of the All the Smoke podcast.

“Marijuana should be in that tone.”

Does the U.S. support legalizing adult-use cannabis?

A new SSRS poll released in April found that 69 per cent of respondents believe cannabis should be legalized for recreational use. That is one percentage point higher than the 68 per cent of adults who reported to Gallup last year that they support legalizing marijuana.

When it comes to legalizing medicinal marijuana, though, support is considerably higher. That move was backed by 92 per cent of adults polled by SSRS.

“Medicinal use of marijuana has become a major talking point among athletes, many of whom view it as a safer, non-addictive alternative to prescription painkillers,” per Bleacher Report.

The Letterman-Durant episode is scheduled to become available on May 20 as part of the new season of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Other guests for the upcoming season will include Billie Eilish, Ryan Reynolds, Cardi B, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Smith.

The Durant interview was certainly not the first time he and Letterman have been face-to-face, so to speak. Letterman, posing as Dave from Basketball Digest, a magazine which ceased publishing in 2005, crashed the Brooklyn Nets media day last year.

In line with the simplistic and slightly annoying questions featured in streeters during Letterman’s late-night hosting days, he asked why people call KD, KD.

“My first name is Kevin, with a K and my last name is Durant, with a D,” said Durant, per a clip posted on Twitter. Although he didn’t seem to be in on the joke, Durant appeared to be unimpressed with the less-than-probing questions.

After a few more inane queries, the incredibly patient Durant had had enough.

“All right Dave, that was the last one,” he said, according to Nets Daily.

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