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Defining Moments of the NBA Season: A Dank Flight to Waiters Island

Dion Waiters has played only three games this season but still managed to have a moment

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

The NBA is on hold for the foreseeable future. To help fill the void, we’re looking back at the defining moments of the 65-ish games of the 2019-20 season so far.

Dion Waiters has long been an object of fascination for NBA fans. His penchant for heat checks is so fierce that it became the namesake for a category on The Rewatchables. His belief that he’s at the same level as star teammates like Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant has secured him a spot as one of the all-time irrational confidence guys.

But his greatest gift, I believe, is his ability to spark low-stakes controversy. Remember when he got in a public feud with John Wall and Bradley Beal over which duo was the best backcourt in the league? Remember when, after he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, it was reported that he believed he was better than Kyrie Irving? Both cases were scandalous enough to make news, yet there were no real consequences beyond that.

This season provided us with yet another installment in the series: Gummy Gate. Here’s a refresher, in case you’re a little hazy on the details: On November 7, the Heat smoked the Suns by 16 points and then boarded a charter plane to Los Angeles for a game against the Lakers. Somewhere along the way, Waiters ingested a THC-infused gummy to alleviate a stomach ache and suffered a panic attack on the flight, requiring medical attention upon landing. It was later reported that the Heat believed the edible was given to Waiters by a teammate. (He refused to say which.)

While the legality of airspace cannabis use when crossing state lines is foggy, the NBA’s policy on weed is less relaxed. The Heat suspended Waiters for 10 games, which docked him more than $800,000 in salary and prevented him from earning a $1.2 million bonus for playing 70-plus games.

On the one hand, a panic attack, drug-induced or otherwise, is a traumatic experience that should not be taken lightly. On the other hand, an NBA player missing a game because he got too high on a weed gummy is objectively hilarious. Twitter had a field day.

Waiters made his season debut in January and played an uneventful three games in a Heat uniform before being traded—not to the Blazers or the Nuggets, unfortunately—but the Grizzlies, who immediately waived him. He then signed with the Lakers and stayed inactive for three games before the season was suspended.

He’s back by LeBron’s side, in one of the biggest media markets in the league—if the season ever returns, we’re all but assured another low-stakes controversy.