The NBA’s Mental Health Focus

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 29: Kyrie Irving (11) of the Boston Celtics prepares to resume action after a break against the Denver Nuggets during the first half on Monday, January 29, 2018. The Denver Nuggets hosted the Boston Celtics at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Members of the NBA media have a job to do, much like the rest of us in our everyday lives. Still, out of concern for the mental health of NBA players, the media needs to back off Kyrie Irving in the midst of the Boston Celtics‘ tumultuous season.

The NBA’s Mental Health Focus 

It’s A Delicate Balance

The media have a job to do. Similarly, players must answer questions posed by the media on a daily basis. However, something NBA players are not required to do is be okay with the constant pressure that comes from fielding the same questions over and over.

In a discussion that has recently regained traction since it first truly came under the spotlight thanks to Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan (among others), mental health and player happiness are increasingly becoming pertinent topics of discussion in this league.

At fewer times is this more relevant than when players are fighting through tough seasons. Kyrie Irving is no different. Irving and the Celtics are battling through a season of ups and downs. As the team’s best player, Irving is taking much of the heat for this tumult in Boston. Again, talking to the media is part of the job for athletes. Still, it can still be hard to handle the stress that comes with being the subject of so much criticism. Never would it be feasible to vouch for media silence, because both parties have a job to do. Still, media members can strategically adjust to make it easier for the athlete’s mental health. Here’s why that objective requires the media to back off of players like Irving.

The Solution

NBA players seldom discuss their mental health struggles openly to the world. Accordingly, we might never know how Irving is actually being affected by this scrutiny. However, the media can do one thing to help ensure that Irving, and other players alike, do not struggle mentally from media pressure. That solution: stop pressing NBA players about the same questions and issues so constantly.

Kyrie Irving recently said “I’m not gonna miss any of this sh*t when I’m done playing”, alluding to the media presence following him around. Clearly, he’s not happy about the media pressure. The media can still do its job without repetitively pushing too hard on athletes about particular issues.

No basketball-related subject should be off-limits for the media. Still, the media should be aware of the extent they go to on any single subject. They have a job to do, but this does not transcend the importance of human decency. If a player seems reluctant to discuss a certain topic, the least the media can do is try moving to a different subject. Doing so may alleviate some scrutiny faced by players. Consequently, this may help them mentally by allowing them to get back to focusing on their jobs as basketball players.

The NBA cannot reasonably put any feasible restrictions on the media because they are there to do a job. However, the NBA is still an arena of machismo culture where athletes rarely speak up about personal mental health struggles. Hopefully, this culture in the NBA changes in the near future. Until then, however, to make this easier for players, for the sake of mental health, the media must back off from Kyrie Irving — and all players, more generally — instead of harping on the same questions or topics for days on end. As this takes place, the NBA will truly be able to take another step towards productively addressing mental health amongst its athletes.



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