Anthony: Top Athletes, Entertainers Get Cyber-Bullied

NBA on TNT analyst Greg Anthony weighed in on the mental health – or lack thereof – of the modern athlete

The DA Show
March 07, 2019 - 10:35 am
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When you think of the NBA, perhaps you think of millionaire entertainers authoring highlight reels for basketball fans around the world. While that’s true to a certain extent, NBA players, like all people, are human. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver recognizes that, recently opining on players’ mental health – or lack thereof. From that standpoint, NBA on TNT analyst Greg Anthony believes it’s “absolutely” more difficult to be a pro athlete today than it was, say, 20 years ago.

“The top athletes, the top entertainers, you basically get cyber-bullied,” Anthony said on The DA Show. “Think about it. If you had to take or listen to some of the vitriol from fans and people who don’t like you and you got to read it every day, it definitely will have an impact on you. It just will. We see it all the time, and it is the era.”

Anthony, 51, played in the NBA from 1991 to 2002. Two years later, Facebook launched. Two years after that, Twitter launched.

“When we played, you could get criticized in the paper, and something might pop up on television or the radio, but you were conditioned for that,” Anthony said. “But when you get it constantly the way these guys do now – and I know I heard Charles say it was stupid, but Charles is not on social media, so he doesn’t get that. Young people today, they grow up with far less privacy. Put yourself in that situation. If you were constantly being personally attacked and you had to read that and hear about it, it would absolutely, I think, have an impact on you. 

“I thought it was really good from the commissioner to go there,” Anthony continued. “How many times have we had athletes and entertainers come out and address these issues? So to think that it can affect other people (but) it wouldn’t affect an athlete is kind of fool-hearted. It absolutely would. That’s the environment we live in.”

Anthony believes athletes will be more comfortable with the limelight – and the criticism that comes with it – as time goes on.

“I think what’s going to happen over time is our athletes will get more and more comfortable with it because they’re dealing with it at younger ages,” he said. “This stuff starts in eighth, ninth grade, when these kids are getting this kind of exposure. You know with exposure comes a lot of criticism, and you really mentally have to be built for that. Some of these guys, I do believe, are struggling with that, whether we want to admit it or not.”

In other NBA news, Anthony diagnosed the unmitigated disaster that has been the Lakers’ season. While LeBron James deserves blame for what has transpired, so does Raon Rondo, who spent the final seconds of the Lakers’ loss to Denver on Wednesday sitting in a spectator seat away from the team.

Is that a problem?

“Absolutely,” Anthony said. “That does have an impact because of what you’re trying to accomplish here. When you sign up for this team, obviously Rondo is expecting they’re going to make the postseason and he’s going to have a significant impact on that roster. But as a veteran player, as a guy that’s won (a championship), you’ve been on this journey as well. He’s been in this situation early in his career trying to get his team to the next level, and veteran guys were able to help him. He’s got to be a leader. He’s got to show guys how to handle adversity. You can’t separate yourself from the team in that manner. As a point guard and as a leader that Rajon Rondo has been, he’s got to take some leadership for that, there’s no doubt about it.”

You can catch Anthony and the rest of the NBA on TNT crew tonight for a high-stakes double header. The Pacers (42-23) play the Bucks (48-16) in Milwaukee at 8 p.m. ET, while the Thunder (39-25) play the Trail Blazers (39-25) in Portland. Tip-off is at 10:30 p.m. ET.