Kevin Love has had a tense year, and on Tuesday, it seems like we’ve found out why. In an open letter on The Players’ Tribune, Love broached the subject of his mental health, revealing that on Nov. 5, during a home game against Atlanta, right after halftime, he suffered a panic attack.
“It came out of nowhere,” he wrote. “I’d never had one before. I didn’t even know if they were real. But it was real — as real a broken hand or a sprained ankle. Since that day, almost everything about the way I think about my mental health has changed.”
In the letter, Love admits that he has been “protective about anything and everything in my inner life,” adding that it’s easy to talk about basketball—that comes naturally—but discussing anything personal was too difficult. He also mentioned that, as a man, he was conditioned never to discuss his feelings. He used the letter to publicly explain the events of the day when he had his first panic attack.
“After halftime, it all hit the fan,” Love said. “Coach Lue called a timeout in the third quarter. When I got to the bench, I felt my heart racing faster than usual. Then I was having trouble catching my breath. It’s hard to describe, but everything was spinning like my brain was trying to climb out of my head. The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk," he said, adding, "By that point, I was freaking out. When I got up to walk out of the huddle, I knew I couldn’t re-enter the game—like, literally couldn’t do it physically.”
He then went on to explain how he ran to the locker room, “hoping my heart would stop racing,” and ended up lying on the floor, trying to catch his breath. When he went to the hospital, and everything checked out, he was confused about what was going on with him.
His team helped him find a therapist. “I’m the last person who’d have thought I’d be seeing a therapist. I remember when I was two or three years into the league, a friend asked me why NBA players didn’t see therapists. I scoffed at the idea. No way any of us is gonna talk to someone. I was 20 or 21 years old, and I’d grown up around basketball,” he said. “I remember thinking, What are my problems? I’m healthy. I play basketball for a living. What do I have to worry about?”
In late February, DeMar DeRozan also revealed that he’s been suffering from depression and anxiety. Hoping that his honesty about mental health will help others going through similar struggles, he explained, “It’s one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we’re all human at the end of the day.”
Love expressed the same sentiment, concluding his letter by saying, “Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need. So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through.”