Kevin Love Says He Feared Dying During Panic Attack in Middle of Game

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Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love received high praise for going public in March of this year about his struggles with anxiety. It now appears that those battles were serious enough that Love feared that he would die during one particular attack.

In an interview with ESPN’s Jackie McMullen, Love offered more insight into the panic attack that he suffered during a game last November against the Atlanta Hawks. He indicated that he ran off the court and ran into a number of different rooms, uncertain of what to do:

“My heart was jumping out of my chest. I couldn’t get any air to my lungs. I was trying to clear my throat by sticking my hand down my throat.

“It was terrifying. I thought I was having a heart attack. I was very scared. I really felt like I was going to die in that moment.”

Love says Cavs trainer Steve Spiro came in and found him splayed on the floor. “He was trying to calm me down, but he didn’t know what to do,” Love says. “He asked me, ‘What can I do to get you some air?'”

Indicating that a combination of issues was the trigger for the attack, Love cited sleep deprivation, family concerns and pressure about the Cavaliers’ season as the collective causes. Indicative of how awareness about the issue was lacking among his teammates, Love noted that they had expressed both confusion and anger about his sudden departure during the game.

Those family issues included a tenuous relationship with his father, former NBA player Stan Love. Shortly after Love’s disclosure, he spoke with his brother in Portland, who indicated that signs were evident years ago about the developing problem:

“I didn’t know if he’d want to talk about it,” Love says. “He told me, ‘I remember when you were young, and you’d either have these rage fits, or we’d lose you for a couple of weeks and I’d just leave you alone.”‘

During the NBA’a All-Star festivities back in February, Love was asked by McMullen if he was seeking counseling, which he reluctantly admitted. Later on, she asked Love privately about the topic, with the veteran indicating that genetics could be attributed to his issues:

“I have anxiety, but I also come from a family with a history of depression,” Love said. “It’s difficult to talk about. It’s difficult to confront. I finally had to say to myself, ‘Your whole life these things will affect you, so how are you going to manage it?'”

Love also said at the time that he’s hoping that the past mentality of not discussing such concerns comes to an end.

“The last thing this should be is taboo, but that’s what it is,” Love said. “I think about my dad [former NBA player Stan Love], coming from that generation. You don’t talk about anything. You hold everything in.”

It was just two weeks later that Love then made his battle with anxiety public. Having been heartened by the strong support he’s received in the wake of his original disclosure, Love said that he’s ready to embrace further help, if necessary.

“People carry it differently,” Love explains. “Everyone has to come to their own conclusions when to address it. One of my favorite [TV shows] of all time is ‘The Sopranos.’ I’m sitting there watching it, and James Gandolfini is going to see a therapist. He’s telling her, ‘F— this, I don’t need this,’ and by the end, he’s like, ‘I can’t get enough of this.’

“That’s a little bit how I feel right now.”

Shortly after the Cavaliers’ season begins, Love’s public recognition of the importance in acknowledging such concerns will be rewarded. That will take place in November, when he will be presented an award for the effort by a Cleveland-based mental health organization.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.