Something to Love
It’s impossible that there isn’t a pun to make with this name. That’s been the thought itching the back of my mind since I heard of Kevin Love, about a week ago. I’m impressed with myself for remaining oblivious to the name of Kevin Love, especially since there are two of them. After hearing his name, I decided that he must be a football player, since he sounded vaguely familiar. Neither Kevin Love is a football player. But one of them is an incredibly talented basketball player, a forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He turned twenty-nine last September and had played for the Cavaliers since being traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves, for whom he played from 2009 to 2014. Love is a five-time All-Star team member and was a member of the Cavaliers’ NBA-winning team in 2016, and those are just a few of his accomplishments. Kevin comes from a happy, practicing-Christian home, with an older brother and a younger sister, Collin and Emily. His father, Stan, also played in the NBA. Kevin is 6’10’’, a phenomenal player with a loving, healthy family and a strong faith who, to all in the world, was living an absolute dream. That being said, he was as much surprised as anyone when he experienced a panic attack last November in the middle of a game.
Many readers may have heard of the article that Mr. Love published quite recently, titled: “Everyone is Going Through Something”. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so. In this down-to-earth and expressive piece, Love discusses how his sudden and unexpected panic attack led him to consider his sport, himself, and everyone else with a novel perspective, especially since he began to see a therapist afterward. To Love, this was unheard of in the NBA; no other players seemed to need to discuss their feelings, neither to each other nor to a professional. He describes the doctrine of internalization as part of a “playbook” all males, including himself, are pressured to learn and follow, centered around the famous command: “Be a man.” To Love, this included keeping feelings to oneself. The star forward was embarrassed that he’d experienced a panic attack during a game, and he didn’t want anyone to know. Love states in his article that: “I was running from room to room, like I was looking for something I couldn’t find. Really I was just hoping my heart would stop racing. It was like my body was trying to say to me, You’re about to die. I ended up on the floor in the training room, lying on my back, trying to get enough air to breathe.” Afterwards, Love was concerned. This is not extraordinary; if I experienced anything like this, I’d be concerned, too. But, Love was not concerned about his attack, he was instead concerned that he didn’t want anyone to discover it. He wondered why he was so reluctant to publicize it, and finally concluded that it was just himself adhering to the “playbook.” Dissatisfied with uncomfortable secrecy, he published his experience.
There are several aspects of Mr. Love’s article that inspire and fascinate me. First of all, he is a prominent basketball player. He’s famous, beloved, and, really, quite a star. But now, the first fruits of a Google search of his name alone yield his article about mental health, which relates his inner convictions and struggles. I admire that. I admire that he was willing to be known for his weakness, because admitting weakness is strength. I admire him for reaching out to the world, for being willing to relate to those suffering and to associate himself with the struggling by his testimony. What is stronger than supporting someone else when your own problems and pressures are heavy, too? I admire him for having courage, for being one of the first to accomplish something like this in his field. It’s not courageous to speak when you know you’ll be heard, to stand up in defiance and say “Me too!”. It’s brave to take a risk such as this. It’s brave to know that next time you’re on the court, instead of being invincible, unfeeling, and larger than life, you’ll be the man that discussed his mental health, the one that had a panic attack, and to stand up anyway. It’s easy to be callous, it’s easy to be hard. It’s difficult to make yourself vulnerable. But it’s strong.
The quote in Love’s article that stood out most to me is the root of the title: “Everyone is going through something that we can’t see.” Everyone. Even you, even me, even him, even his fellow players, friends and enemies. Even the ones that look perfect. We shouldn’t gloat over this fact when we feel inadequate, but instead this should serve as a reminder to us that no one is alone. But, “no one” and “everyone” are quite vague words. “Kevin Love”, ho
wever, is very specific. I don’t know much in the realm of basketball. But I do know I’m not alone because a 6’10’’ professional male NBA player isn’t perfect either, so I’d like to thank Mr. Love for sharing his valuable story with the world.
I guess his problems are really just something else to Love about him.
There, that’s what I’ve been looking for.
-Allison M. Langenburg