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Tyson Chandler among Bulls refuting claim that members of 2002-03 team smoked pot before games

Feb 12, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Jay Williams Getty Images

In an excellent New York Times piece that was published over the weekend, former Duke basketball standout and current ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams recounted his experience dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle injury that ended his professional basketball career.

It was a powerful story, one that included Williams discussing his feelings at his lowest point, which had him considering suicide.

There was another nugget in there, however, that’s now gaining some national attention, thanks to the way it’s affecting some of Williams’ former teammates he played with while he was a member of the Chicago Bulls during the 2002-03 season.

From Greg Bishop of the Times:

“I didn’t know how to handle it at first,” Williams said. “I didn’t know how to be around it. Guys were on the bench, trying to kick it to girls in the stands, having ball boys run over. I mean, some guys were high.”

Asked to clarify, Williams said: “There were guys smoking weed before games. Guys asking in the middle of the game, ‘Do you smell popcorn?’ ”

He noticed the nervous laughter around the kitchen table. “You think I’m playing,” Williams said. “Can you imagine! Guys are gambling. They’re playing dice in the back of the plane for money. Like, we just lost by 30 tonight! And we’ve got a game tomorrow! It bugged me out.”

Players “smoking weed before games” is a strong statement, and it must have been at least perceived to be true by Williams for him to even broach the subject.

But the fact that he mentioned it at all, and did so without naming names, is leaving his ex-teammates scrambling to explain.

Tyson Chandler, who now plays for the Knicks and earned his first selection to the All-Star team this season, was on that 2002-03 team with Williams. And not surprisingly, he’s not letting that claim from Williams go without a response.

From Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork:

“I don’t know why he would say something like that. I think that’s ridiculous that he would come out and say something. I don’t remember that to be honest with you. And it’s unfortunate that he would make that kind of statement about our game,” Chandler said at the team’s charity bowling event to support Madison Square Garden’s Garden of Dreams Foundation.

Other Bulls on that team, including Donyell Marshall and Rick Brunson, similarly took exception to Williams’ assertion.

Williams released a statement Monday essentially saying he was done talking about the issue.

“I gave an honest account of my struggles and observations during a specific time in my life; that was one small element. It was a long time ago and I am not looking to make it a bigger issue,” he said.

The interview Williams gave was so wide-ranging that it might not have even occurred to him at the time the gravity of what he was saying. If he had thought it through a little bit before making those comments, he might have realized how many people were going to be affected by such a serious accusation.

  1. teehov843 - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Of course you wouldn’t remember Tyson, you were high as a kite! LOL!!!

  2. samonelastains - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Yea, man j took it too far with the comment. Everyone knows that these things go on in professional sports. gambling on a plane should night be that surprising, lest there are guns and fights included. You read from williams quotes that he was trying to frame this team as some rowdy, weed heads, when they probably where just young. And to make it look like he was the good person and didn’t ride around wilding out on motorcycles.

    • andyhr17 - Feb 12, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      So you’re saying if they were getting high before games then an acceptable excuse is “they were just young”?

    • dacapt704 - Feb 12, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      once again a small piece of an article/interview is taken and blown into a headline..the article actually WAS about his stupidity and the depression he felt after the accident. The weed thing was more of an afterthought when he was talking about his rookie season in general. He didnt make that the focal point of the story, it was all about him and the accident. Never did he try to make himself out to be the “good guy”

    • nbascreed - Feb 13, 2013 at 5:09 AM

      Wow…he’s wack for this. Trying to dry snitch on cats to boost your profile. He’s a clown.

  3. timb12 - Feb 12, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Donyell Marshall! You know he was on something.

  4. fruitcovejag - Feb 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I believe him. That Bulls team was young and they were a mess! Of course they wouldn’t say, “Yeah, we did it”.

  5. bux1022 - Feb 12, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Many players do! Mr parish, hall of fame! Admitted to it! Nothing new! New story, something of relevance, rather than an ex-player that no one cares about!

  6. 13arod - Feb 12, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Why are people doing drugs these days makes me feel sorry for the people that do drugs and mess up their lives

    • kingbeason52 - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      13arod, LOL glad to see we got arod fans chiming in on this..

    • nygiantstones - Feb 12, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Weed is legal in Colorado and Washington. Caffeine is a drug. Nicotine is a drug. Arod does HGH and steroids which are drugs. Get off your high horse.

      • odbj - Feb 12, 2013 at 6:43 PM

        Preach, nygiantstones!

        Think of marijuana as something similar to alcohol. Drinking alcohol doesn’t make you an evil low-life (unless you abuse it, of course).

        Except weed doesn’t debilitate your senses. If anything, it enhances them (which can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances).

  7. tims8705 - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    I fully believe Jay when talking about the 2002-2003 team. That team was a joke and completely lacked discipline. It’s pathetic to hear. He didn’t condemn them for smoking pot or for gambling, but the context they were doing it in. Obviously the team lacked focus, thank God for Thibs.

  8. deavn - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Everyone should smoke weed.

  9. tanmarino17 - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    ^ It’s ironic that you say that. With ur name being 13arod and all.

  10. tanmarino17 - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Its obvious these guys believed in the theory “get high before the game get high stats”

  11. fruitcovejag - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    No. I never said acceptable Andy. I said I believe they did it because they were young and therefore didn’t realize the great position and opportunity they had at the time.

  12. steelers4385 - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    I think the world would be a better place if everyone smoked and we got rid of the people that are against it. I dont smoke anymore just as personal preference. But come on. Everyone knows its not realllly a drug.

    • tims8705 - Feb 12, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      If you don’t think being high during an NBA game will affect your play, then you are high.

    • andyhr17 - Feb 12, 2013 at 4:02 PM

      So you think everyone should get high….but you don’t. Thank you for your hypocritical point of view, Dr. Steelers4385.

  13. stoudemelo - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Am I the only one who remembers Eddie Curry and Eddie Robinson? Those guys are career idiots.

    Corrie Blount??? Can’t tell me he’s not a smoker I mean Tim Duncan is a baller

  14. pellypell - Feb 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Carmelo wishes Jay Williams would STOP SNITCHING.

  15. stlouis1baseball - Feb 12, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Come on people. This isn’t news. Are people that naive?
    I know for a fact NBA players smoke up. There was a study done about 20 years ago that estimated 80%+ of NBA players regularly smoke. If memory serves it was more like 90%+ percent.
    But aside from this…I have a relative (in the immediate family) who happens to be friends with a former Big Ten College Player, Indiana Pacer and Chicago Bull (among others).
    Dude has a 6′-11” bong in his house. Takes two people to operate the damn thing it is so big.
    Players travel with the herb as well. There is one crazy ass NBA player in particular (who changed his name fairly recently) that has been known to walk down the street openly asking to purchase it during the rare occasion he didnt bring his with him on the road. This isn’t news.

  16. katra2logic - Feb 12, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Much ado about nothing…

  17. romoscollarbone - Feb 12, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    I went to grammar school w/ Jay Williams. He’s probably full of it. He was such a goody too shoes when we were growing up. Always running to mom.

    I lost all respect for him, when after he was drafted, I bumped into him at Woodbridge Mall with another person who also grew up with him, and he big leagued us. Said “Man you guys got big.” and walked away. We were 17 and 18…. and we got big, lol.


  18. drago2012 - Feb 12, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Anyone can tell that Chandler and the rest of the crew were smoking pot before and during the games, based on some of the decisions they made on the floor. I used to see him make passes to a triple coverage. Those were brutal years if you were a Bulls season ticket holder. I had 4 season tickets in a good location and i gave them up out of frustration.

  19. snopro17 - Feb 12, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    chandler probably still smokes. wait who else smokes? oh yeah….only the most olympic medal winner ever. if weed is supposed to act as a deterrent as is alcohol then how do these athletes break records and make the hall of fame?

  20. dja1287 - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:59 PM comments by far have the best threads

  21. daddyghi - Feb 13, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    yep! just chek out donyell’s eyes… you be the judge…

  22. chicagofan - Feb 13, 2013 at 6:21 AM

    None of his teammates were “high ” enough to go risk there career riding a motorcycle? His judgment seems worse than theirs and he was apparetly sober when it did it. Good Bball players can still kick you ass on the court –high or not. They weren’t flying planes or operating heavy equipment and they weren’t using cocaine like the NBA players used to do. Who cares? I agree Donyell looked somewhat sedated most nights.

  23. scalfor3 - Feb 14, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    “There was another nugget in there”

    I hope that line was intentional

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