NBA, union reminds players that mental health help available

MIAMI (AP) — NBA players were reminded Tuesday that help for their mental wellness is available if needed, and they were urged to take advantage of that whenever necessary.

A letter from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts wished players well as they start the season and stressed that the game provides an opportunity “to change lives.”

“Each of our offices has newly-enhanced mental wellness programs, which we encourage you to use to manage stress, anxiety and other challenges,” read the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press after it was distributed Tuesday. “It’s a critical step that can also encourage teammates and fans alike to understand that it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for help.”

All-Stars Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan last season revealed and detailed their struggles with mental health. Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said during the NBA Finals that had been treated for anxiety during the season, and new Orlando coach Steve Clifford – who spent last season in Charlotte – missed time while he tended to health problems related to not sleeping enough.

The letter from Silver and Roberts also reiterated that the league and the union will continue supporting players’ efforts to make societal change. They pointed to the enshrinement earlier this month of eight former NBA players in the Basketball Hall of Fame as proof that those who play in the league have the power to influence change.

They added that such power “matters now more than ever.”

“The Players Association and the League are always available to help you find the most meaningful ways to make that difference,” Silver and Roberts wrote. “We continue to support your efforts to bring together families, community leaders and law enforcement to rebuild trust in our neighborhoods; mentor and empower young people; encourage civic engagement; and amplify the voices of organizations that champion the values of equality, diversity and inclusion.”

Most NBA teams are holding media days, the prelude to the start of training camp, on Monday. Dallas and Philadelphia are having their media days on Friday because they are traveling to China later in the preseason for games there.

“We may not always agree on every issue, but we still look out for one another,” Silver and Roberts wrote. “We listen and learn from each other. And we understand that we’re all part of something bigger than just a game.”