Mental health has been quite a topic in sports over the last few years. The NBA has been quite vocal with players like the Cleveland Cavaliers’ big man, Kevin Love.
So has the San Antonio Spurs‘ DeMar DeRozan.
For those keeping score at home, the league’s mandate retains two mental health professionals who are licensed in their field and locality and with experience in assessing and treating clinical mental health issues.
Additionally, their protocal alots a licensed psychiatrist available to assist in managing player mental health issues., has a written plan dialed in on mental health emergencies and has an open line of communication allocated that also promotes confidentiality. All of this was put into place in the summer time before this NBA season as told by The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
Before the league’s mental health policy this season, I was informed on what it was like during a recent conversation on the Scoop B Radio Podcast with current BIG 3 leaguer and former NBA player, Larry Sanders who played with Kevin Love in Cleveland with the Cavaliers after his stint with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sanders reflected on those Bucks times. Check out that portion via Scoop B Radio in the transcript below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: The 15th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Larry Sanders is on the line with Scoop B Radio…Larry, I’m very confused on something and maybe you can help me understand it. I remember back in 2015, you walked away from the NBA. And it was after your second suspension for marijuana use. We’re past that now. Is it kind of interesting when you look at mental health, depression, anxiety and mood disorders to being a topical issue –
Larry Sanders: I’m sorry…I just want to touch on something, we’re going to get back to focus – I just have to correct that real quick…I didn’t walk away after my second suspension. They suspended me WHILE I was walking away –
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: How does that work?
Larry Sanders: Yeah I was already trying to leave and trying to get outta there, they kind of reached back on an old drug test, it was – it was kind of f—-d up man. It was a lot of punishment tactics I felt you know? It wasn’t a clean way out. Then it got released to the media that I got suspended but I was already wanting to leave and fighting my way out with my contract and whatnot.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Thank you for the clarity.
Larry Sanders: Yeah yeah, no doubt.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Why were you willing to walk away?
Larry Sanders: From what I just said, honestly. Being mishandled. Being mistreated. You know you think that you’d be valued and it’s such a parallel because you’re valued in a way where people see you larger than life and you know – for example, when I broke my orbital, they let me go to sleep on the training table. I WASN’T given a concussion test. I wasn’t even given a X-ray test the next day when they found out that I broke my eye. My wife at the time drove me to my eye test to get my eyes checked. I’m the highest paid player on the team. It was so many different things that over time that weighed on me, different situations that I – and guys would come to the Bucks and say to me from other teams we had a lot vets because it’s a situation because a lot of guys go to the Bucks because they’re at the end of their contract, they’re going to go get minutes and then they’re going to go and find somewhere else to play. And that was the situation in Milwaukee for a long time when I was there. We had a lot of guys go in and out especially at the end of their careers and these guys, these vets would say to me, “You’re not in the NBA. This ain’t the NBA. The way you’re being handled over here, they way how they treat you with the medical staff, this ain’t the NBA.”. They were all uncomfortable. You know from everyone that came through from Stack Jack [Stephen Jackson], to Drew Gooden, to Keyon Dooling, to Chris Johnson, to – so many different guys… Samuel Dalembert you know, you can go down the list. So it was just rough. It was rough for me man. The best city as far as you know integrating culture and mixing back and white people together – I come from Florida where it’s a melting pot. And being in Milwaukee where there’s a lot of segregation, it’s a lot of prideful segregation, that made some headlines and the media go crazy. That made walking around Milwaukee made me feel different. It made you know – the level of being uncomfortable was just extremely high anxiety and depression trying to figure out why am I giving so much to be here and they’re not taking care of me in the same way. Breaking my orbital and doing so much in this position when I’m not getting the respect and help and concern I should be getting on the other end in regards to my mental health. You want to give me opioids and different drugs to try to cope with and I say I’m fighting for marijuana, I’m fighting for something which I think is a safer route and you ask me why I’m doing it… I say let’s have a discussion and get to know the situation rather than ‘let’s punish him’, let’s suspend him; you know what I mean? It’s just so many – it’s a lot of different angles to why I chose to step away and I think that the guys can contest to that. After I left, guys were like ‘I feel like that too. I’m dealing with that too, this isn’t right’ – guys have to step out and say, ‘You have to see me as more than just this. Than just an athlete. I’m much more than that. I need to handled, my mental health needs to be respected, my physical health definitely needs to be respected because I’m jumping up and down and running through the wall for you.’ So I think that anything that has been is not little wave of something from the decision and that’s one thing that definitely motivatedme to make it too.