Kevin Love on How to Find the Right Therapist, and What to Do If You Can’t Afford One
“I’m an asshole,” Kevin Love mutters apologetically, after he explains his habit for interrupting. He swings his white Air Force Ones—size 17—off the conference room table and sits up in his chair as I restate my question.
We’re talking about mental health, and “an asshole” is not how I would describe Love, at least based on my limited sample size. The 30-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers forward is, at worst, overeager to get his point across, which cannot be said of many other contemporary professional athletes in their interactions with The Media. (To be fair, I’m not pressing him about his LeBron-less Cavs and their 19-63 record this season.) It’s been a little more than a year since Love’s March 2018 essay for The Players Tribune, when he revealed that he was seeing a therapist after a panic attack in a game against the Atlanta Hawks. He still has more to say on the subject, and for good reason. While it’s true that some onlookers are of the incorrigible machismo variety—forever insistent that choosing to express thoughts and feelings out loud is exclusively for beta cucks—many others who listen to Love are not so hopeless. He’s well-aware of this, which is why he’s on a media tour of sorts in New York City during Mental Health Awareness month.
Love is also in New York City because he just got a place in Manhattan, where he’ll be training this summer. During a conversation with GQ, he offers up practical advice about anxiety, depression, and therapy, and squeezes in a little basketball talk, too.
GQ: There’s a huge barrier to entry for therapy, which is how much it costs. For someone who can’t afford therapy, what would you recommend?
Kevin Love: You’re damn right it’s expensive, and not everyone can afford it. My fund wants to help with that. But if you aren’t able, you can look to somebody within arm’s distance. If there’s a friend, family member, or somebody at school who’s willing to talk to you, that’s absolutely worth doing.
And then there are other things—eating healthy coincides with what I do on the floor and with working out. You feel better, you look better, you’re thankful to yourself. That’s a micro gain that helps ease anxiety. I think sleep is a key component too. I also meditate now, and it’s funny, because people will look at you like you have a tail if you say you meditate. Like, Oh, he’s one of those guys. That’s another stigma or taboo that people are adjusting to. It’s made easier for you with apps—I think you should use your phone to your advantage. Sometimes, I’ll comment on certain friends, guys around the league, or family members on Instagram. It’ll be the littlest thing, but you never know what could set somebody off in a positive direction. I’ve learned you have a way, way vaster community than you think.
What sort of qualities do you think a person should look for in a therapist?
I think it’s honing in on exactly what’s bothering you. I know that’s part of the actual therapy session, but it’s helpful to separate the internal from the external. You’re going to walk in and know within the first 10, 20 minutes if you vibe with a therapist or not. A therapist that you don’t respond to is only going to take you so far, and you’re only going to trust that person to a certain level.
There’s an internal, chemical balance of depression that I’ve been predisposed to. I knew that was the case, I ran all of the tests and know how I felt for so many years. Same thing with my anxiety. That was all internal stuff, but there were also concrete, external events like the loss of my grandmother. You have to figure out what you’re dealing with to find the right person for you. But it’s like choosing a major in college: People change that, what, two or three times?
I know the public discussion about therapy amongst professional athletes is a relatively new one, but sports psychologists have been around for a while, right?
Yeah. It’s kind of like in Billions—they’re therapists, but they’re more like Wall Street therapists who are trying to drive as much money into that firm as they can. It’s for sports performance, not for functionality.
It seems to me that male pro athletes have labeled sports psychologists as more socially acceptable. They’ll talk publicly about going to a sports psychologist to improve their athletic performance, but an all-encompassing therapist is a step too far. It’s a very hypermasculine thing.
I think an ultra-masculine, type-A personality is going to be reluctant to say that he has a problem, and in a sport where you sometimes can’t show weakness, he’s going to stick to a sports psychologist. My therapist, who was here yesterday from Cleveland, is a little bit of both. I’m not putting down or shitting on sports therapists by any means. It’s just that you need to sit down and figure out what you need. It’s often an accumulation of things. When I reached a tipping point, basketball was just the last pillar to fall.
I’m sure you’ve come across Kyle Korver’s Players Tribune piece about white privilege. Obviously I’m bringing this up because you’re one of the more prominent white guys in the NBA. What did you think about Korver’s post, and the points it raised?
Kyle is always willing to talk about the things that matter, and this is something that really matters. He’s very knowledgeable about hard-hitting things going on in the world. He was one of the first guys who had my back and spoke to me after my own story came out.
This is a league that African-Americans built. We wouldn’t be in the place that we’re in without what they’ve brought culturally and what they’ve brought to the game in general. Just having white privilege in America is something that we see every single day. We don’t have to consider that when we wake up in the morning. I don’t even know what that would be like to have to consider that. It’s always funny when my white friends say, “Did you know you were the only white guy on the floor?” I’m like, no. I’ve always been immersed in that culture because my dad played in the league too. My teams growing up, it was me and my best friend coming up in a white privilege area in Portland, Oregon, and we went across town and were immersed in that culture.
Kyle bringing light to a subject like that is badass. I love Kyle for that. It was well-received, and it was from the right guy. Integrity-wise, he’s top of the top.
Speaking of well-respected NBA players, Klay Thompson has a reputation as a guy everybody in the NBA likes. What was his rep on your Little League baseball team?
He was the only nine-year-old on the 10-year-old team. I used to be over at his house all the time growing up. It’d be Mychal and Julie Thompson, and I’d be hanging out with their oldest son Mychel. Trayce Thompson was there hitting home runs. We’d play with a tennis ball and aluminum bat and hit it over the trees and lose the ball.
Klay was always super quiet. He didn’t talk. I’d try to get a rise out of him, and he would just have this quiet confidence, which he still has today. Now you can get more of a rise out of him, but he’s never taken himself too seriously, and I didn’t see that when I was that young.
You mentioned to me that you’re a TV and movies buff. Besides Game of Thrones, which I cannot intelligently discuss because I haven’t seen it, what are you watching right now?
I’m really into history and people’s rise to power. I’ve been watching a show on Netflix that goes deep into Augustus Caesar, Julius Caesar, Commodus and the Fall of Rome. I also just watched the third season of True Detective—the first season was, to me, the best string of eight episodes I’ve seen.
It’s so crazy to me the world they create on these shows. I’m reading It right now, which I grew up watching, plus Pet Sematary, Misery, all these Stephen King novels that went onto screen. I’m so fascinated by how writers have these voices and think of these things. Like, Georgie is a young boy whose little paper boat goes flooding into the sewer system, and out pops a clown named Pennywise who eats children and takes many forms in Derry, Maine. How do you think of that shit? It’s so beyond me. That’s a sadistic creativity, too. I watched King’s documentary about where he’s from and what he went through and how he struggled with addiction but bet on himself to be this timeless writer. And here we are: Stephen King is a G.
On the style front, my colleague Cam Wolf is very into the Ralph Lauren Polo Bear outfit. He saw you broke that out as well. How extensive is your Polo Bear collection?
I think I have everyone beat. I collect vintage patches, and I’m heavy on my reps at Ralph, like, “Yo, you need to give me every patch from way, way back.” It’s not only the sweaters—I’ll go like, “Do they have that in cashmere, too? Let me get that”—but I also have the Martini Bear, the Collegiate Bear, the Palace Skateboard Bear. That was an unbelievable collection, I loved that and got everything that I could. The hats were amazing too. I’m trying to think of all the bears. I have a very extensive collection, because that to me is timeless. I’ll have those forever. I don’t just buy the sweater and immediately put it on. I’m making sure it’s fitted and looking great first. I have my tailor take care of it so I can throw it on for any occasion.
Between James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant, who requires the most game planning in the lead-up to a game?
I think KD is playing at an all-time level right now, even for him, and he’s won back-to-back Finals MVPs. As far as game planning for him, that’s tough to do because they have so many options. There’s only so much you can do. On any given night, two or three of those guys could be the best player in the league.
Giannis, you have to get back in transition and load the paint. He’s a freak, he’s like Shaq. I mean, Shaq himself said, “You take the Superman nickname because you are Superman.” I’d say he’s in the middle between those three guys. And then James Harden I think is who you game plan for the most. If you can slow him down, which you probably can’t, then you can completely slow down their team. KD said the other day that Harden doesn’t cheat the rules, he’s just very clever. I think there’s something about being left-handed that’s a little off and hard to guard. He combines what those two guys bring and is so deadly when the ball is in his hands.
Your defensive sequence on Steph Curry is considered one of the best individual moments in recent NBA Finals history. I’m curious if you, as a current NBA player, would even allow that compliment to stand.
I think it will be a legacy-defining moment for me, but I let him get the ball back, and when you have a guy who you’re double-teaming or trapping, and you’re trying to get the ball out of his hands, you don’t let him get it back. It was actually a poor defensive sequence. I just happened to keep my feet down and played great individual defense when the time came.
As far as my top plays in my career, yeah, that’ll be up there. We won a championship, and there were three great plays—the block, the shot, and the stop. The block was the best block in NBA history. The shot was one you do in your driveway when you’re young. And then I kept my feet down [laughs]. I mean, that’s a shot he makes all the time. It’s not like I blocked it. But it was a big play, I know that. No matter how many times people ask me that, I’m always going to play it down. It was a huge moment in my career, but having that iconic moment of hugging ‘Bron, and then all our teammates and coaches embrace, that’s what I’ll remember most. That was special.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Source : Alex Shultz Link