In a recent interview with SLAM, former Clippers center Keith Closs opened up about his short-lived NBA career and how alcohol derailed a promising future in the league. We’ve heard tales in the past of drinking in locker rooms, namely from Ron Artest and Mark Cuban, but by comparison Closs’ admission makes those stories look like Sesame Street.
“I was drinking in the NBA,” Closs told the magazine. “I was drinking on the bench, too. That wasn’t Gatorade in my water bottle; it was whatever I’d brought with me from the liquor store on the way to the arena. I had grown very resentful of the fact that I wasn’t playing…I felt like I was wasting away.”
Closs, who averaged forgettable numbers in his three seasons with the Clippers from 1997 to 2000, also admits to smoking marijuana (while still in uniform) during games at halftime outside Staples Center, often times with fans. But for the 7’3″ Closs, the bottle was his preference. His affinity for the drink was well-established before college, but he says his time at Central Connecticut State only accelerated it. After a league-imposed stint in rehab after receiving two DUIs during the lockout from 1998-99, he still didn’t see himself as having a problem.
“I was out there dunking on dudes smelling like three bars, then they’d take me out and I would refresh my water bottle,” Closs said. “Nobody disrespected the game of basketball like I did at that time. That’s something I have to live with.”
Since being exiled from the league, Closs bounced around a bevy of minor leagues, including the D-League in 2007. He currently plays for the Santa Barbara Breakers of the West Coast Professional Basketball League, which might be playing in a high school gymnasium near you. His teammates include Stephon Marbury’s younger brother and somebody who had a minor role in Semi-Pro. Seriously.
It’s certainly been a tumultuous ride, but we’re glad to hear Closs, now 35 and married, has been sober for more than four years and is at peace with his life.
H/T Business InsiderGoogle+