Doc Rivers Paul George LA Clippers
Photo: Los Angeles Times

Throughout the sporting world, stadiums are slowly opening up to the public again. No more imagining the sounds of cheers, boos, and thunderous applause – it finally feels like our beloved sports are well and truly back. 

However, the journey to return to normalcy has not been an easy one. The 2020 NBA Bubble is a testament to that. 

Located at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida, the Bubble was an isolation zone created by the NBA to protect its players during the final eight games of the 2019-20 season and throughout the 2020 playoffs.

While the Bubble did keep players safe from the coronavirus, it had a significant impact on their mental health. 

During an intense season where players had to try and keep their focus on the game and adjust to their new surroundings, it may have been difficult for many players to open up and talk about their difficulties in the Bubble. 

Many are likely hesitant to express themselves due to the stigma surrounding mental health in athletes and the immense pressure of being a professional basketball player and the expectations that come with it. 

But it’s imperative to have these hard discussions; otherwise, we’re likely doomed to repeat the same mistakes in the future and inevitably sacrifice the wellbeing of our players.

If you can relate to this situation or resonate with the words of the athletes below, don’t hesitate to reach out through websites like BetterHelp, which help you learn to overcome these issues and seek out professional care as necessary.

Paul George

LA Clippers’ star Paul George opened up about his mental health after the Clippers’ fifth playoff game. 

“I underestimated mental health, honestly,” said George. “I had anxiety, a little bit of depression, from being locked in here. I just wasn’t here, I was checked out. Games 2,3,4 – I wasn’t there.” 

Before this, pundits were critical of George’s game; there were no signs of George facing any sort of mental health complications, as is so often the case. 

When people choose to express themselves and reach out for help, these situations come to light.

Danny Green

George’s post-game press conference sparked some confidence in other players as well. Danny Green, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, spoke out in support of George and addressed social media issues. 

“The bubble is as good as your play,” says Green. “If you’re not playing well, walls are gonna close in on you. Trust me, I know exactly what PG is going through. You have nothing but to look at your phone and social media all day and all they’re doing is bullying you.”

Green goes on to say that this is something that every single NBA player is dealing with in some capacity. 

The Bubble: A Demonstration of the Importance of Mental Health

It is undoubtedly difficult to stay positive when you are away from your friends, family and doing things you enjoy and love. Professional athletes often train for a couple of hours every day and play games a couple of times every week.

Apart from a few team meetings, recovery sessions, and tactical analyses, they are mostly left to their own devices. In the Bubble, an idle mind and little to do (alongside isolation) were likely the perfect storm.

With more and more athletes speaking out, organizations and associations across many different sports are taking more initiatives to tackle mental health issues and raise awareness on the matter. 

This, coupled with the reintroduction of fans in stadiums and player vaccinations, can hopefully see the sports world return to normalcy where players and fans alike can enjoy their beloved game.