PLAYA VISTA, Calif. (News4usonline) – One of the many topics broached during media day for the Los Angeles Clippers was mental health and how NBA players are now apt to talk or discuss the issue. Newcomer John Wall, a heralded star when he first came into the league, knows about this firsthand.
Wall has had to deal with his career being in transition. He has endured personal family loss. Thoughts of suicide thoughts crept up into his mind. And on top of all of that, the pandemic put an added burden on him. Wall was not shy during his time on the podium talking about creating more awareness around the issue of mental health.
“I can’t really speak for everybody else,” Wall remarked. “I guess for me, if you haven’t checked the story out, you should check it out. I think it’s dope. I think it helps us. It’s Black men that just go out there and took our pride. I think we are very prideful, and a lot of times we think we can accomplish everything by ourselves until we really hit some reality and it gets tough.”
Wall continued, “Hopefully my story can help a lot of people and inspire a lot of people to not wait until it’s too late. I wish I could have told the story a long time ago, but I didn’t go through that until the last couple years. So people that we have lost in the past, you think of those and them and they family, but hopefully, I can help some people that’s going through it now and in the near future.”
Entering his 11th season in the league, Wall was the Next in the NBA. He could do it all when he first stepped foot in the NBA for the 2010-11 season. He was electrifying to watch. Injuries have cut into Walls’ career. Last season, he did not play at all. And before that in previous seasons, Wall’s productivity on the court was largely shelved due to the numerous injuries he suffered from.
The Clippers signed the former University of Kentucky star in the offseason. Wall, who has played in five All-Star games and averages 19.1 points a game during his career, gives the team a true ballhandling threat, a player who is able to create opportunities for other players as well as for himself. That’s the basketball side of things.
However, when it comes to the other stuff, like mental health, Wall believes that athletes such as himself or his teammates are in a position to be leaders on the subject. During the pandemic, Wall’s new teammate, Paul George, was very open in talking about his mental state. Robert Covington has also been out front on the matter as well. Athletes making themselves available to discuss mental health openly now as opposed to players coping with it in the past is a direct result of a couple of factors, he said.
“Pandemic for one, and I think also — I don’t know why, but just because we make a lot of money and we’re famous they think we don’t have the same problems regular people got. We still a regular person,” Wall said. “At the end of the day, we just wake up and get an opportunity to we play the game we love and make the money to take care of our families, but we still go through all the same emotional things y’all go through.”
He continued, “That’s one thing I don’t think a lot of people understand and a lot of people respect. But I think for me, like just hearing one of my close friends, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love come out and speak on depression. Just hearing that. And then also the platform we have with social media. We’re able to touch a lot of people. Like everybody is accessible now because they camera phones and social media, so I think that gave us a platform to go out there and speak on it a little bit more.”
When it comes to athletes speaking out about mental health, veteran Norman Powell is on board with this program. Powell, who was traded to the Clippers last season from the Portland Trail Blazers, admitted that he has a mental health coach. Powell said the reason why more athletes are speaking up about mental health is that they deal with the same issues as everybody else.
“I think we’re kind of changing the narrative,” Powell said. “I think people and fans from the outside looking in view us as just athletes and not as people, and we’re dealing with the same daily struggles and life challenges that they are. Just the differences is our profession and our bank accounts are a little different, so they feel like we don’t have any issues at all.”
On the contrary, Powell said.
“We still struggle with day-to-day living, day-to-day crises with our families, personal issues, health issues that we have to deal with. I think we’re pushing the envelope and the narrative that we’re more than just athletes. That’s been a slogan around the league for a while now in the last couple years, and that’s the truth,” Powell quipped.
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, racial and social justice, civil rights, and HBCUs. Dennis earned a journalism degree from “The Mecca” aka Howard University. “I write on what I am passionate about.”