Vernon Maxwell Confirms NBA Urban Legend About Bringing A Handgun To Pickup Games

Getty Image

The 90s were wild—windbreakers, promiscuous presidents, Vernon Maxwell bringing firearms into arenas like an extra pair of shoes, smoking on planes, Korn with a backwards K, a pogs pandemic. Chaos.

Vernon Maxwell didn’t earn the nickname Mad Max over his 13-year NBA career because he’s a cinephile, he earned it because Mad Max is the only suitable nickname for a guy who once brandished a free weight as a weapon to use against then-teammate Gary Payton in a locker room fight, quitting a championship team in the ’95 playoffs, and Malice in the Palacing before it was hip.

Hakeem: Oh, cool. Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld are here! Lock in. Focus. 

Vernon Maxwell: There’s something about the face of that guy in seat 32B of Section 102. If he doesn’t fix it, I’m prepared to suffer a 10-game suspension and a $20,000 fine. 

Mad Max appeared on the Ringer’s Real Ones podcast with Raja Bell and Logan Murdock—and aside for setting a record for 2,834 “muthafuckas” in one podcast—confirmed the NBA urban legend that Max bring a loaded gun to play pickup across the country.

(16:00 mark. It’s worth it to listen instead of the transcription)

“That’s the truth. The only reason I used to have it is because I know myself and the pickup games. I used to go all over the country and play everywhere. I knew myself. I was going to get caught in a setting and I knew I was going to need that muthafucka.”

“When I used to go to the damn arenas, I used to have it in them arenas. City to city. State to state. I had my backpack on…I had my shit with me. I was locked and loaded. All the time.”

Maxwell then claimed his weapon of choice was a 9 mm. Thrown in a backpack. To play basketball.

I’d harvest my organs to be a fly on the wall of those pickup games.

Doughy Accountant Who’s Only Hooping To Lose 10 Pounds For His Wedding: Foul.

Mad Max: Nah, muthafucka. 

Accountant: Sir, you broke my arm. 

Mad Max:


Raja claimed the rumor to be ubiquitous throughout NBA inner circles, and it certainly jives with an incident in ’95 when Maxwell reportedly removing a handgun from his car after a fight with teammate Carl Herrera.

It should also be noted that Vernon Maxwell is a two-time NBA champion. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Matt Keohan Avatar
Matt’s love of writing was born during a sixth grade assembly when it was announced that his essay titled “Why Drugs Are Bad” had taken first prize in D.A.R.E.’s grade-wide contest. The anti-drug people gave him a $50 savings bond for his brave contribution to crime-fighting, and upon the bond’s maturity 10 years later, he used it to buy his very first bag of marijuana.