The facts, as stated by the AP May 12, 2006: “New Jersey forward Clifford Robinson was suspended five games without pay by the NBA on Friday after violating terms of the league’s drug policy for the second time in two seasons. Robinson will miss at least the rest of the Eastern Conference semifinals. His suspension begins Friday night with Game 3 of the Nets’ series against the Miami Heat, and leaves New Jersey without one of its possible options for defending Shaquille O’Neal.

“Robinson was also suspended five games in February 2005 while playing for Golden State. Under terms of last year’s collective bargaining agreement, a player would be suspended five games for a third positive test for marijuana. The 39-year-old Robinson is a valuable reserve for the Nets. He averaged 6.9 points in 80 games this season, his 17th in the NBA.”

Among active NBA players, Cliff Robinson is second in age only to Dikembe Mutombo. What does that say about his marijuana use? The league, i.e. the owners, set him up by insisting that he only use corporate drugs to deal with the pounding his body took. Clifford Robinson was obviously unimpaired as an athlete.

They punished Robert Parrish, too, for using marijuana.  The narcs opened a package someone had sent him and, lo, it contained the devil weed. They tried to humiliate him but he was dignity personified.  “The Chief.” He played into his 40s, was the oldest man in the league when he retired. And the great Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who used marijuana to fend off migraines… What a handy excuse for the owners’ not making him a head coach.   —Fred Gardner