In a tale of different sports leagues, where the NFL condemns its players for protesting the anthem to stand up for what they believe, the NBA is encouraging its athletes to fight for social change. Perhaps the most public issue the NBA players have been supporting is mental health, with Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan campaigning publicly about their struggles. This week the NBA continued pushing this message out to its players, reminding them that help for their mental wellness is available if needed, and they were urged to take advantage of that whenever necessary.
NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, and National Basketball Players Association executive director, Michele Roberts, wrote a letter that wished players well as they start the season and credited the game as providing an opportunity to “change lives.”
“Each of our offices has newly-enhanced mental wellness programs, which we encourage you to use to manage stress, anxiety and other challenges,” read the letter, which was distributed Tuesday. “It’s a critical step that can also encourage teammates and fans alike to understand that it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for help.”
“we understand that we’re all part of something bigger than just a game”
In addition to Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, Cleveland Cavaliers coach, Tyronn Lue, admitted during the NBA Finals that he’d also been treated for anxiety during the season. Orlando Magic coach, Steve Clifford, also admitted to missing coaching time while tending to health problems around lack of sleep due to stress.
The letter from Silver and Roberts demonstrated the league and union’s commitment to supporting its players and that they’ll back players’ efforts to lead on this social change. They added that this power of social change “matters now more than ever.”
“The Players Association and the League are always available to help you find the most meaningful ways to make that difference,” they wrote. “We continue to support your efforts to bring together families, community leaders and law enforcement to rebuild trust in our neighbourhoods; mentor and empower young people; encourage civic engagement; and amplify the voices of organizations that champion the values of equality, diversity and inclusion.”
“We may not always agree on every issue, but we still look out for one another,” Silver and Roberts wrote. “We listen and learn from each other. And we understand that we’re all part of something bigger than just a game.”
From the players’ perspective, this move from the NBA and Players’ Association leadership was extremely well received.
Best League in the world. What great leadership looks like 👌🏾 pic.twitter.com/cywJTjWPTF
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) September 18, 2018