LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 09: Al Harrington who played 16 seasons in the NBA talks about entrepreneurship and his company Viola that is involved in the cannabis industry during the Legends National Basketball Retired Players Association Conference at Caesars Palace on July 9, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

Out of Office: Al Harrington, former NBA player and Founder/CEO of Viola Brands

Al Harrington was such a basketball late bloomer in high school, his own mother wouldn’t come to his games. What was the point if her son was riding the bench? But hard work and a growth spurt turned Al Harrington from so-so hooper to the nation’s top high school player by his senior year. In ’98, he was a McDonalds All-American, and the Gatorade and USA Today Player of the Year. Drafted out of high school in the 1st round pick by the Indiana Pacers. Harrington reveals the profane warning that Larry Bird, the Pacers Head Coach, barked at him when he showed up late for his first team meeting. Harrington describes what he learned from veteran teammates like Antonio Davis and Reggie Miller that helped forge professional habits over his 16-year NBA career with multiple teams.

Harrington talks to Rich and Gianni about his surprising entry point into the cannabis business, which began with Harrington’s search for ways to help his grandmother, Viola, cope with her glaucoma and diabetes symptoms. Harrington later met with then-NBA commissioner, David Stern, and managed to change Stern’s opinion about the dangers of cannabis. That meeting paved the way for the NBA to set the tone for how pro leagues take a more tolerant stance on marijuana use by players. In this powerful episode, Harrington drops many gems, including his stunning estimate of the number of NBA players who used marijuana when he started in the league in the late ‘90s, a number he believes has held steady to this day.