Cavs star Kevin Love revealed Tuesday that he’s been struggling with mental health issues. Love wrote in an essay published in the Players’ Tribune that he left a game in November after suffering a panic attack. He detailed how it left him confused and ashamed, and said that he’s started seeing a therapist.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says we don’t often hear athletes opening up about mental health.
"In sports, you're better off saying you have a drinking problem than an emotional problem. Because we can understand that. With most of these guys in the NBA, and listening to their home stories, and they've probably had moments of panic attacks, too. They just didn't know what it was."
Not about basketball
Pluto revealed that he's experienced several degrees of panic attacks over the years.
"They rarely happen when you're in the middle of panicking. It's a delayed reaction. Kevin Love said it happened in the middle of a game, but I don't think he was scared to death playing the Atlanta Hawks in November. That's not what caused it. My guess is that it’s probably family-oriented."
Pluto says basketball is not that stressful for most NBA players because it's their comfort zone. But, he says Kevin Love has had his share of stress while playing in the league.
"He's always been perceived as a pretty boy, soft player. Even though he's one of the best rebounders in the NBA, he doesn't make faces and doesn't scream.
'Be a man'
Love also said he reverted to the mentality of 'being a man' and getting over it privately.
"There is a racial element to this, too," Pluto says.
Pluto says he's made many friends in his 18 years of attending a primarily black church in Akron.
"They talk to me about being a minority on the job. You take the NBA, Kevin Love is a minority. He came from money. Most of these guys did not; they are inner-city guys. And they say, 'he's a privileged guy. Show you're a man.'
Job stress vs. personal stress
Kevin Love expressed in his essay that he was having issues surrounding his grandmother's death.
"There's job stress, and there's personal stress," Pluto says. "Job stress is, 'LeBron may scream at me if I mess this up, but truthfully we've been down this road a lot. There's another game.'
"We have all choked with something on the job. But it's usually the personal stuff that gets our heart going and the sweat coming out and whatnot."
Pluto says he hopes Love's essay gets more people talking about mental illness and sharing how they deal with it.
"I think a lot of other folks are sitting there telling their own panic attack stories right now, and that's good."