NBA veteran-turned analyst-turned Big 3 player Stephen Jackson frequently says what's on his mind. Ditto for San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. If there was any coach who would be bold enough to straight-up tell a player, "Hey man, you need to stop smoking weed," it would be the man who's been running the Spurs' sideline like a machine for the past two decades.
Jackson recently relayed that exact story on ESPN Radio's The Ryen Russillo Show. He met Popovich in 2001 after a stint with the Spurs' summer league squad following his rookie season with the Nets. It was during that meeting that the San Antonio coach said he wanted Jackson on the team—but only if he was willing to stop smoking pot.
"I remember playing great and after the last [summer league] game, we were just sitting there and Pop was like, 'I need to talk to you,'" Jackson said, as transcribed by The Sporting News. "He was like, 'Jack, you had a great summer league. You're playing well. I really want you on my team, but there's only one way that you gon' make my team. During the season, you can't smoke weed, Jack. You just can't do it. I need you focused. I need you on your game, because you know we have a chance to win a championship. I need you focused.'"
Jackson, who has previously talked about smoking before games, obliged the request. "Once he told me that, I shut it down," Jackson said. "The NBA was way more important than weed. Trust me."
That turned out to be a mutually beneficial move: the Spurs went on to win a title in 2003, Jackson's second—and last—season in San Antonio.
Russillo asked Jackson if he would have given up pot for his next squad (which ended up being the Atlanta Hawks), saying, "Does that mean that the next GM that signed you, if he didn't ask you that question, that that wasn't a rule you had to follow?"
To that, Jackson replied, "We had to have that talk first. Let me know my role." Guess that's part of the reason Pop has been around since 1996.