The suspension came after reports that Waiters suffered a panic attack after consuming an edible product that contained THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. ESPN reported that incident occurred while Waiters was on the team’s charter flight Thursday night.
“We are very disappointed in Dion’s actions this season that include the very scary situation on Thursday night, and grateful that the outcome wasn’t worse,” the Heat said in a statement. “There have been a number of instances this season in which Dion has engaged in conduct detrimental to the team.”
Waiters was suspended without pay. His suspension included Friday’s game against the Lakers, according to the statement. He will be eligible to return after the Heat faces the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 29.
“We are proud of how our players have started the season,” the statement said. “We expect all of our players, including Dion, to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards and to show professionalism and respect for their teammates, the team, the fans and the NBA community.”
Waiters had missed the game Thursday against the Suns in Phoenix because of a stomachache, and he took an unfamiliar substance, identified by Fox Sports radio host Andy Slater as gummies, while the team was flying to Los Angeles. He was treated by medical personnel on the plane and did not attend the game Friday night against the Lakers. According to the Athletic, the team believes a teammate gave Waiters the product, but he has not identified who provided it.
Waiters returned with the team to Miami after a 95-80 loss to the Lakers.
Although marijuana is legal in many states and the District of Columbia, it remains on the NBA’s list of banned substances. Former commissioner David Stern called the ban outdated, saying it was time to rethink it in the next collective bargaining agreement. “I think it’s time to take a whole new look at it,” Stern told CNBC recently. His feelings have changed, he said, because of the effectiveness of THC and CBD to treat pain, anxiety and other ailments.
The matter complicates what already was a difficult stretch for Waiters, who missed time during the preseason for what the team said were personal reasons. Then he was suspended by the Heat for the Oct. 23 season opener for “conduct detrimental to the team” after he criticized his role on social media. Through nine games, he has only twice been active and has not been in uniform and on the bench. In his absence, rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn have stepped up.
According to ESPN, Waiters, 27, will miss out on a $1.2 million bonus if he misses four more games. He is due a total of $24 million this season and next. He averaged 12 points and 2.6 rebounds in 44 games last season for Miami.