Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue spoke to ESPN today ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals and detailed what made him step away from the team for two weeks in March. Lue said that before he took his break, he was coughing up blood, suffering from chest pains, and suffering from a lack of sleep. He struggled to coach the Cavs in the second halves of games leading up to his short hiatus, and he says he’s now feeling much more healthy and stable.
Lue went in for several tests, and doctors told him his symptoms were the result of anxiety and stress. He altered his diet, starting with “Shirley Temples...and the sweets,” and started taking medication for his anxiety. From the interview:
“I think for the first time in my career, 20 years, I had a chance to focus on me. It wasn’t as bad as people thought it was. But I did have some chest pains for the last couple of years. And I was just trying to be able to get through it not knowing what was wrong with me,” Lue told Nichols.
Lue said the Cavs’ stumbles in the middle of the season and the pressure of a struggling LeBron James team weighed on him, and he deferred much-needed personal maintenance in order to try and stabilize his team. Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has had to leave the Warriors at various points over the past few seasons as he’s dealt with complications from back surgery, was one of the people who reached out to Lue shortly after he stepped away. The Golden State coach says he told Lue, “You can’t allow what feels like the enormity of the job to interfere with your health and your recovery and whatever you need to do.”
Several NBA players have opened up about their own mental health issues this season, including Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan. It’s helpful to talk about a topic that’s typically stigmatized and not discussed enough.