On Friday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the topic of anxiety and depression among NBA players at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.
Players like Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan have openly discussed their mental health struggles, helping break a long-standing taboo in sports around psychological issues.
Silver: Social media plays role in mental health
Silver suggested that social media was a potential culprit for mental health struggles, noting that a lot of players he’s met are “truly unhappy.”
“Part of it is a direct product of social media,” Silver said. “I think those players we’re talking about — when I meet with them, what strikes me is that they’re truly unhappy.”
“He’s got to be one of the most miserable people I’ve ever seen.”
Charles Barkley had some words about Kyrie. pic.twitter.com/T6REMFoIW5
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Barkley: Silver’s comments stupid
Charles Barkley made an appearance on ESPN Wednesday morning, and when asked about Silver’s statement, he gave a nuanced response respectful of the mental health struggles of others.
Nah, just kidding. He blasted Silver for suggesting that people who have money and success aren’t immune to mental health problems.
“I think that’s probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard Adam say,” Barkley said. “Listen, he’s a great guy. But that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard any commissioner say.
“These guys are making 20, 30 40 million dollars a year. They work six, seven months a year. We stay at the best hotels in the world. They ain’t got no problems. That’s total bogus.”
Barkley doesn’t know what he’s talking about
Those, of course, are the words of a person ignorant on the topic of mental health. Success and money obviously take care of a large swath of life’s potential pitfalls. But no amount of cash, of course, can thwart brain chemistry issues that plague so many people around the world beyond the ability to spend that money on treatment.
Silver’s suggestion that social media plays a role in players’ anxiety is a topic relevant to almost everyone. Social media plays an outsized role in modern life and provides a source of addiction and mental strife for many prone to problems to begin with.
Barkley’s words on the topic are insensitive at best and dangerous at worst.
Barkley takes on ‘miserable’ Kyrie Irving
Barkley went on to target one player in particular, Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.
“Kyrie Irving,” Barkley said. “I don’t know him that well. He seems like a good kid. But I’ve never seen a person so miserable. To have so much success. To have the world in the palm of his hands.
“He’s gonna make 40, 50 million dollars a year for the next 10, 15 years. He’s already won a world championship. He’s in the movies. But he’s got to be one of the most miserable people I’ve ever seen.”
Irving has certainly opened himself up to legitimate criticism with his flat-earth statements and career decisions that he himself is now indirectly questioning in public.
Barkley out of line
But for Barkley to attack him on those fronts in the context of mental health is out of bounds.
Barkley is a smart guy with a lot of interesting things to say. Except when he’s not.
Sometimes he should keep his mouth firmly shut on topics he’s not educated on.
This is one of those times.
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