Happy birthday, Josh Howard. Congratulations. You’re 28 today. You have the world at your fingertips, living a life most people can only dream of. You beat the odds as a kid and emerged as one of the NBA’s most promising players.

So why let all that go up in smoke? (Sorry I’ll stop.) For those of you who were out of the country or maybe doing a little too much partying yourself, Josh Howard, Dallas Mavericks’ small forward admitted on Michael Irvin’s radio show Friday that he’s a pot smoker, “no big deal”. In fact he indicted the whole NBA saying, "everybody in the media world and in the sports world knows that NBA players do smoke marijuana". No, this isn’t the first time he’s publicly admitted to this but it reeks a little bit more this time, especially when we are forced to watch his painful decline as a player. He said he smoked in the off-season but he sure looked high last night — or maybe he’s just real anxious to get the Mavs into the off-season.

It’s pretty much understood that pot isn’t the most addictive drug. People don’t usually spiral into psychosis or begin robbing banks to support a pot problem and it’s often looked at — rightly or not — as a funny, harmless (though illegal) drug. Heck, maybe lots of players are doing it (come to think of it Stackhouse looked pretty out-of-it last night too).

But pot does stay in the system for a long time. It makes users sluggish (the smoking alone reduces the ability of your lungs to function correctly and a professional athlete, if I’m not mistaken, kind of needs to breathe properly), uncoordinated; it stifles motivation — and aren’t these all things we’ve seen in Howard lately? He used to be one of the most high energy players on the court. He didn’t exhibit a fraction of the energy last night that he showed during the playoffs two years ago.

Personally, I’m irreversibly peeved at Howard and here’s what I’d like to tell him:

Dude, you are a professional athlete making millions. Do you honestly think that you’re going to keep getting paid as you get sorrier? Do you think parents will send their kids to your summer camp? Do you think your orthodontist will still want you doing his commercials after you’ve admitted (and seemed very proud of) regularly taking illegal drugs? Did the drugs just make you plain stupid? And then you’re going to throw the whole NBA under the bus too. Really? As a Mavs fan it makes me mad. Never mind the whole “illegal drug” thing. Bottom line: Howard is working for our team and he cares so little about his job (not to mention his teammates or his fans) that he participates in an activity that renders him unable to do his best work … and he BRAGS about it. Saying the marijuana isn’t affecting his playing is like saying drinking didn’t cause the drunk driver a wreck. Maybe he would’ve had the wreck anyway, but the logical deduction is to blame the drinking.

Update: Yesterday, he posted this attempt at an apology on his web site.

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