Timberwolves fans don’t have much love for former Wolves forward Kevin Love, given how his time in Minnesota ended rather acrimoniously with an eventual trade to Cleveland.
But that should not detract from a very earnest and important message Love delivered in piece released by The Players’ Tribune on Tuesday.
In the piece, Love opens up about a panic attack he had during a game earlier this season with the Cavaliers — and how the experience forced him to confront how he views both mental health issues and his own identity.
Wrote Love: I know it from experience. Growing up, you figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act. You learn what it takes to “be a man.” It’s like a playbook: Be strong. Don’t talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own. So for 29 years of my life, I followed that playbook.
In an early November game, though, Love felt a strange sensation: What he describes as his first panic attack. He was stressed out, not sleeping well, and it all caught up with him. In the middle of a game, he had to leave. He wrote:
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.
It never became public at the time, which relieved Love. As he dissected that idea, though, he wondered why he had been so grateful the episode wasn’t exposed.
He wrote: Call it a stigma or call it fear or insecurity — you can call it a number of things — but what I was worried about wasn’t just my own inner struggles but how difficult it was to talk about them. I didn’t want people to perceive me as somehow less reliable as a teammate, and it all went back to the playbook I’d learned growing up.
Love has since been seeing a therapist and working through his feelings. One of the most enduring thoughts from the piece is this:
I want to make it clear that I don’t have things figured out about all of this. I’m just starting to do the hard work of getting to know myself. For 29 years, I avoided that. Now, I’m trying to be truthful with myself. I’m trying to be good to the people in my life. I’m trying to face the uncomfortable stuff in life while also enjoying, and being grateful for, the good stuff. I’m trying to embrace it all, the good, bad and ugly.
Kudos to Love for not only that approach to life but also for sharing his story.