Mental health is a very serious and delicate issue, but not many are willing to open up about it because of how they think they will be perceived. As a result, several basketball players have lost their way in an attempt to keep up with a hypermasculine front.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was awarded GQ Athlete of the Year after his incredible 2020-21 campaign. After several attempts to lure him away from Milwaukee, he stayed and led them to their first NBA title in 50 years, scoring 50 points in the series-clinching game.
In a chat with Zach Baron of GQ, Giannis spoke a lot about his journey as an 18-year-old in the NBA, and how he has grown to become the man he is. But what stood out to us is his awareness of mental health and where he stands on the topic.
“People that talk to the sports psychiatrists and stuff like that, they label us ‘soft.’ We’ve seen that in the past, like, ‘Oh, man, I’m having anxiety.’ ‘Man, you’re soft. Go deal with that.’ That’s how it’s labeled. That’s why it’s hard for people to talk to somebody and open up. Even for me, it was extremely tough.”
Even with how difficult it is, the 2021 Finals MVP encourages players to seek help when necessary, stating that some of the best athletes are in some form of therapy. He cited the tennis superstar, Naomi Osaka, as a reference point, stating that he could relate to her struggle while he watched her docuseries.
“She wasn’t happy, she wanted to get away from the game and all that stuff, and it’s f**king hard, man.”
Giannis also explained how he is now taking a step back and working on the things greatness cost him now that he has won a championship. Make no mistake, this is not a statement suggesting he will not be giving his all in games every other night. Now, he will pay more attention to family, peace of mind, and life outside of basketball.
On his quest to greatness, there have been many narratives, including a supposed beef with James Harden, even though Giannis is one of the most loved players by fellow NBA stars. Nonetheless, he has dedicated seven years of his life to basketball and will go down as one of the greatest to play the game.