Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love opened up about suffering a panic attack during a game this season -- and how it led to him addressing his mental health -- in an essay published on The Players' Tribune on Tuesday.
Love was taken to the hospital during a Nov. 5 loss to the Atlanta Hawks with what he described at the time as stomach pain and shortness of breath. In his Players' Tribune story, he acknowledged the symptoms were caused by his panic attack.
"It came out of nowhere. I'd never had one before," Love wrote. "I didn't even know if they were real. But it was real -- as real as a broken hand or a sprained ankle. Since that day, almost everything about the way I think about my mental health has changed."
Love also left a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in January with what was described as an illness. That exit led to a fiery team meeting, during which several players challenged the legitimacy of his health that day, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported at the time.
The extent to which Love's teammates were familiar with his condition is unclear, however sources familiar with the meeting told ESPN's Dave McMenamin on Monday that the subject was talked about following the loss to the Thunder.
A source close to Love told ESPN on Tuesday that Love did not suffer another panic attack in the loss to the Thunder, despite what the perception in the locker room might have been, and that is why Love did not address the January meeting in his Player's Tribune piece.
Love, saying he had been under family stress and hadn't been sleeping well, wrote that he knew something was wrong at the start of the Hawks game before the full symptoms hit in the third quarter. He left the game and was accompanied by a Cavaliers staff member to the hospital.
"It's hard to describe, but everything was spinning, like my brain was trying to climb out of my head," said Love. "The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk. I remember our assistant coach yelling something about a defensive set. I nodded, but I didn't hear much of what he said. By that point, I was freaking out."
Love rejoined the team the following day and played against the Milwaukee Bucks two days afterward.
He wrote that since the initial panic attack he has been seeing a therapist a few times per month.
His comments drew support Tuesday from teammate LeBron James on Twitter.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 6, 2018
Over All-Star Weekend, Love told ESPN's Jackie McMullan that he had spoken with Channing Frye about how his former teammate, currently with the Los Angeles Lakers, had dealt with depression.
"Having the locker right next to me and being next to him on the bus, he's been that sounding board for me," Love said of Frye.
"It really makes you think about how we are all walking around with experiences and struggles -- all kinds of things -- and we sometimes think we're the only ones going through them," Love wrote. "The reality is that we probably have a lot in common with what our friends and colleagues and neighbors are dealing with.
"... Mental health is an invisible thing, but it touches all of us at some point or another. It's part of life. Like DeMar said, 'You never know what that person is going through.'"
DeRozan said Tuesday night that he was proud that his story helped Love acknowledge his own issues.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 7, 2018
Love has not played since breaking his hand Jan. 30. He said Friday that he was optimistic he would return to game action before the team's stated eight-week recovery timeline.
He ended his piece by encouraging anyone dealing with inner struggle to seek help.
"So if you're reading this and you're having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you're not weird or different for sharing what you're going through," he wrote. "Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do. It was for me."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.