The NBA is leading the way in a mental health movement within the sporting world. Athletes such as Kevin Love want to create a better environment around mental health

Exacerbating mental health concerns in the NBA is the fact that 22 teams have headed to Walt DisneyLand Resort to finish the season inside "the bubble": the 220-acre ESPN sports complex that will be the home to NBA crew and teams over the next few months in order to finish the season with minimal exposure to the public.

With some athletes voicing concerns over having to live in isolation away from family and loved ones for possibly months, the NBA has reportedly put an emphasis on mental health and making resources available to the teams inside the bubble.


William Parham, director of the NBA's mental health program, said, "[This season] is going to leave the guys with a lot of time on their own, and challenges with families, newborns and whatever else they have going on in their personal lives are going to be magnified because they're going to be in confined spaces for prolonged periods of time."

The NBA's emphasis on mental wellness during playoffs shows their efforts in ramping up mental health awareness, something they have been proactively encouraging the last few years.

During this year's ESPY awards on ESPN, Kevin Love received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award in recognition of his continued efforts in mental health awareness. The following day, Love's foundation donated $500,000 to UCLA's psychology department. In a statement, Love said, "I hope one day we are able to erase the stigma around mental illness, starting with public conversations around mental health and encouraging people to seek help when they need it, followed by research, action, and change."

Love has had a huge role in facilitating the NBA on improving their policies and stance on mental health. Beginning with his candid personal essay in March 2018, Everyone Is Going Through Something, in which he opened up about his anxiety and panic attacks, Love's called attention to the stigma around discussing mental health issues, especially regarding men.

When the Cavaliers played a home game against the Atlanta Hawks in November 2018, Love suffered from a bad anxiety attack that put him out of the game during the third quarter. According to Love, the most shocking reaction he had after he realized what was wrong was not the attack by itself, but the way he may be viewed by his teammates if they found out what had happened. His greatest fear was that others would think less of him.


Many other NBA athletes have followed Love's example and opened up about their own struggles with mental health. Demar DeRozan, Trae Young, and Kelly Oubre Jr. are just a few current all-stars who have shared their own experiences.

Just a few months after Love's story was published, ex-NBA all-star, Keyon Dooling, published his own essay for The Players Tribune describing his experience getting the mental help he needed after spending 25 years of his life hiding that he had been sexually assaulted at the age of 7.

The number of high-profile NBA stars opening up about their own mental health stories helped the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to develop a first-of-its-kind initiative among national sports leagues: a mental health wellness program, which was adapted in May of 2018.

The program's mission is to facilitate balance between athletes' mental and personal health. The NBA also created new rules and guidelines for teams regarding mental health for the 2019-20 season. Teams are now required to have at least one mental health professional on as a full-time staff member. Each team is also required to have a written plan in place for mental health emergencies, along with confidentiality and privacy agreements for all athletes.

Athletes are often held to infeasible standards. They are under constant pressure to "be the best." But they are not superheroes; they are just as prone to mental health issues as anyone else.

One common factor amongst these NBA stars is the fear of being seen as weak. Hopefully, with more and more athletes sharing their personal mental health struggles, the stigma associated with discussing it will fade away.

Paul George grabbing a rebound in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

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In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.

After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.

The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.

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Ben Simmons disappointed in the playoffs this season

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Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.

Offense being the key word here.

Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.

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The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

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The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


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