We’re seeing a renaissance of sorts in the NBA, but what’s happening has little to do with the product on the court.
Thanks in part to the candor of Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, more and more players are opening up about their battles with depression and other mental health issues.
One of the latest to tell their story is Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris, who gave some insight into his struggles with depression and anxiety to Jackie MacMullan in a series on ESPN.
Morris began by detailing some of the troubles of his upbringing in a crime-ridden section of Philadelphia.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel like I could trust anybody — not even the people in my neighborhood, who I knew my whole life,” Morris told MacMullan. “We just walked out stressed all the time. I said to my brother once, ‘You know, this is no way to live.'”
From a mental health standpoint, things didn’t totally subside upon Morris making it to the NBA. He was traded to the Detroit Pistons in 2015, which separated him from his brother, Markieff, now with the Washington Wizards, who he had been playing with for the Phoenix Suns. The move sunk him, even to the point that he started second-guessing his career path.
“I start asking myself, ‘Is this for me?'” Morris said. “Growing up, I loved the game so much — it was the only thing that made me happy. But now it’s stressing me out. It’s all negative. It’s all business, and I’m having trouble with that. So you start flipping back and forth. The money is great, but is it good for me as a human? Shouldn’t that matter more than anything?”
Last offseason, Morris was moved from the Pistons to the Celtics in exchange for Avery Bradley. Morris indicated that the Celtics — head coach Brad Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, in particular — implored him to get the help he needed. They pointed him in the direction of Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, a psychologist at McLean Hospital, and she seemed to help a good bit.
“She has helped me so much,” Morris told ESPN. “It may sound silly, but just closing my eyes in a dark room and breathing for 10 minutes a day helps me. I know lots of guys who are dealing with some kind of anxiety and depression — not knowing if they have a job next season, not knowing if they’re going to get traded. It’s so stressful. Everyone is pulling at you. They want your time, your money, a piece of your fame … If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you.”
It’s great to see Morris, and many other players for that matter, get the help that they need. While from the outside it appears they have it all made, it also is an incredibly taxing and grueling lifestyle, and they go through personal struggles just like everyone else.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images