Metta World Peace opens up about his mental health journey and the importance of therapy

On November 19, 2004, Indiana Pacers striker Meta World Base (then named Ron Artist) put it on the scorers’ table at Mansion Auburn Hills, the former home of the Detroit Pistons, where the showdown was underway. With 45 seconds left and the match in hand for the Pacers, World Peace committed a cruel foul on Pistons strongman Ben Wallace, who responded by pushing World Peace and sending him to that aforementioned spot to calm down.

Then it happened – a blue cup thrown by John Green from a Pistons fan, and the World Peace tie, who rushed into the stands and set off a fierce quarrel between the players and fans. It was a fit of rage that has now become synonymous with the profession of world peace and perhaps depicted his personal well-being. But world peace admitted it was less indicative of his mental health than it was revenge.

“They are always [go to] This scene… I ran into the stands, “Remember ESPN’s World Peace.”[But] The palace happened because someone hit me from the stands which changes the narrative.”

The real narration was more accurate. Global Peace, who retired in 2017 after 17 years in the NBA, has already been in therapy for some time, trying to channel the power that made him the number one defender in the NBA. But nevertheless, the consequences of that night left him depressed, as part of a long struggle with personal peace.

Six years later, when he celebrated his 2010 championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, World Peace thanked his psychologist. Nearly 11 years later, earlier this month as part of Disney’s company-wide conversation on mental health, Global Peace spoke with ESPN ahead of Mental Health Action Day.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Growing up in New York City’s Queensbridge housing project, he experienced a trauma that left an indelible mark:

Different things happen on the streets and you may be traumatized. things that happen in the house; Brother goes for 10 years; drugs smuggling. I am very familiar with the game of gun. It just stack on. I’ve got kids like a [teenager]And [like] Psychological. All of these things start to build up. It’s always a conflict of interest. You are in a professional world, but you are not a professional. I was conflicted being in the corporate environment. It was something I wasn’t comfortable with at that age. I would go back 13 hours on the weekend – go straight back into the hood and relax a bit – and head back to Chicago [where he was drafted by the Bulls in 1999] Every time we had a day off.

Looking at Dennis Rodman, who realized he had mental health issues before many others did:

Dennis Rodman was the first to come out [and publicly say he was managing his mental health] – He was in an opera [in 1996] – Talk about his family. When I saw that, I was like, “Oh, wow. I didn’t know that about Dennis Rodman.” I just became attached to Dennis. Like, “Oh, I feel you, I understand what you’re going through.” But people didn’t see it that way. Nobody wrote stories, “Hey, Dennis Rodman was going through something.” His parents were not there and he was homeless. That’s why I changed my number to 91 [Rodman’s number].

Based on insightful comments from one of the two college coaches in St. John’s, arriving as one of the McDonald’s American coaches from LaSalle Academy in Manhattan:

I played really hard, but sometimes you can get over the top, and I’ve been since high school, maybe middle school. If you have any concerns, it’s not a good combination, is it? I know my old coach Fran Fracella [the current ESPN college basketball analyst who coached him as a freshman], he told me my severity was a gift and a curse, but that I never understood it until later. Coach Fran, was right. Sometimes you can hold on to things that you should try to figure out ways to let go. I have reached my goal, which is the NBA. At this point, I should really cherish this moment and try to let go of some old stress. But when you go through it, you don’t really realize it. Basketball was great for me. I was trying to figure out a way to love it. I shouldn’t be unhappy on the field.

He was drafted into 16th place in 1999 and join the scrimmage Bulls, who had won 13 games the previous season – the first after Michael Jordan retired. (He debuted at the age of 19. Chicago won only 32 in his two full seasons with the team.):

The bulls, when they got there, got into two fights. And I was on edge, as I always am. It will continue out of court. I was very severe. I couldn’t even see it. It’s a beauty to watch, because you have a guy who works hard every day, but you also understand that this guy goes through a lot. Then he lost matches – I hate losing. I’m not used to losing. I [had never really lost], then you get to the NBA, you lose. It really bothered me, and I didn’t get it, “Hey, you’re a newbie, and [there are] The professionals are here, and you will be impressed every day until you get a better team. “I thought I was supposed to win. It didn’t work out like that.

When receiving mental health support early in his career from employers:

The bulls… they were really good, actually. The Bulls were way ahead of their time, but I didn’t really accept their help. I just thought it was a generic diagnosis versus a customized one. But this at the time. When I got to Indiana, we really started to get [mental-health] Diagnosis, and then I just started therapy and inhalation and meditation and various things like that. That was really cool, when I started working on this kind of thing. We’ve got a more comprehensive method. Just going through childhood things, talking about them. I think this was more helpful than just [prescribing medicine]. Some people try to do this, and I don’t think this is the right approach. You have to diagnose someone the right way.

On mental health support from teammates:

hard to [teammate] … If you don’t really have the experience yourself, but I had a lot of players [throughout my career] To make sure I was [doing alright]. So, you want to just be there to support and encourage, but, at the same time, perhaps, “Why do you criticize in practice?” That’s the balance between offering that encouragement, and then also asking, “Hey, what’s up? You need to get off. This is basketball. Maybe you should go see a therapist.”

About the fallout from “The Malice at the Palace” (which stopped him from participating in the last 72 games of the 2004-05 regular season – the longest in NBA history for a field accident – and the subsequent playoffs. After playing 16 games at the start of the 2005-06 season , World Peace told the Indianapolis star that the Pacers were better off without him and wanted out.):

I wanted to play, man, but I couldn’t play at all [during the suspension]. I was hoping I could afford the fine, take all the money and let me play. They did both. I trained from November until the playoffs. And then, after qualifying, in the summer, I started feeling depressed. Then the season came back, and then I started to panic a little bit when that season came back. So, that’s when I asked to trade. I was like, I just need to get out of here. Then I got really depressed. I went from 248 to 273 [pounds] When I got to Sacramento [where I was traded]. When I came back after the suspension, I was more concerned about what was going to happen in the ring. You worry about whether someone will test you. Somebody [could] Throw something at you. I panicked, but I had a support system. I still have my therapist.

On how he coped, especially as someone who has had such success on the court — he’s been an All-Star player, Defensive Player of the Year and an All-NBA pick — despite his mental health struggles:

Balance is key. Let’s just say you’re playing very well, but you’re not there emotionally. To find balance, you have to go in the opposite direction sometimes, which will rip you off your greatness. But for me, I had to go back a few steps from giving everything I had to the game. I had to give a little to myself personally. It was unfortunate because I was at the beginning of my career, but in the end I felt better. It took a long time. Though, I would say about the age of 28, 29 is where I really started to be able to make sense of what was going on.

On thanking his psychiatrist, Dr. Santhi Beria Sami, while speaking to ESPN NBA analyst Doris Burke when scraps of paper fell at Staples Center, where the Lakers defeated the Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 Finals:

A lot of therapists actually communicate. I know players who have been going through things as well, different issues than I had. A lot of healers beat me up [saying]Thank you, you made my job easier just by looking like this. I know we had [Kevin] love and [DeMar] DeRozan who came out [and talked about their mental health]. I thought it was really good because I didn’t realize they were actually going through some things. And I thought that was great.

On the importance of mental health infrastructures for children and young players:

See the upcoming new tournaments. They don’t necessarily start with mental health, they start with basketball. But the NBA, they got a [financial] pillow and got the resources to add that. There are a large number of case studies that show that they should have it. It doesn’t cost much each year to have a program. I think they are doing a good job. I am 41 years old. I just talk to guys about it [mental health]. I’m actually trying to train similarly raised kids, and give them a few different options.

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