Mental health is a very serious and delicate issue, but few are ready to talk about it because of how they think they will be viewed. As a result, several basketball players have gone astray in an attempt to follow a hypermasculine front.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was named GQ Athlete of the Year after his incredible 2020-21 campaign. After several attempts to get him away from Milwaukee, he stayed and led them to their first NBA title in 50 years, scoring 50 points in the deciding game.
In a conversation with GQ’s Zach Baron, Giannis spoke a lot about his journey as an 18-year-old in the NBA and how he became the man he is. But what stood out to us was his awareness of mental health and his stance on the subject.
“People who talk to sports psychiatrists and stuff like that, they call us ‘soft’. We’ve seen this in the past, like, “Oh, man, I’m anxious. “Dude, you’re sweet. Go take care of it. This is how it is labeled. That’s why it’s hard for people to talk to someone and open up. Even for me, it was extremely difficult.
Even though it’s tough, the 2021 Finals MVP encourages players to seek help if needed, saying some of the top athletes are in some form of therapy. He cited tennis superstar Naomi Osaka as a point of reference, saying he could relate to his wrestling as he watched his docuseries.
“She wasn’t happy, she wanted to get away from the game and all that, and it’s fucking hard, man.”
Giannis also explained how he is now taking a step back and working on the things that greatness has cost him now that he has won a championship. Make no mistake, this isn’t a statement to suggest that he won’t give his all in matches every other night. Now he will pay more attention to family, peace of mind and life outside of basketball.
In his quest for greatness, there have been plenty of tales, including an alleged beef with James Harden, even though Giannis is one of the players most loved by other NBA stars. Nonetheless, he devoted seven years of his life to basketball and will remain one of the best players to play.