Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue left Saturday night’s 114-109 win against the Bulls with an illness, marking the third time this season that his health has kept him from coaching an entire game. With the Cavs leading 69-52 at halftime, Lue remained in the locker room and handed the coaching duties to associate head coach Larry Drew. “I’m not sure exactly what it is,” Drew said when asked about Lue’s condition after the game. “I just know that before coming out in the second half, he wasn’t feeling well. And I thought that there was a chance that he would [eventually] come out, but he just wasn’t well enough to come out, so we had to just go on.”
LeBron James, who notched his 15th triple-double of the season and 70th of his career (33 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists) was asked whether Lue’s health has affected the Cavs this season. “I mean, he’s the captain of the ship, so absolutely,” James said. “We worry about his health, obviously. That’s way more important than this game of basketball. We know he’s been doing everything he needs to do to stay healthy. Take even more measures to get himself right. Everything that’s been going on with our year, it’s just another one.”
James added that he and his teammates are prepared to stay the course when Lue is not feeling well. “It doesn’t catch us off-guard because he’s been dealing with it for so long now,” James said. “But any time he doesn’t come back to the bench, it’s just an alarm going off, obviously. Like I said, his health is more important. He’s not going to talk about it, so I don’t want to talk about it no more either. That’s just how he is, and I don’t want to get too much into it.”
Kevin Love’s getting mad love from one of his teammates for talking openly about a panic attack he experienced earlier this season … and spreading a positive message about mental health awareness. “A lot of times people don’t look at us as humans, and we go through stuff all the time as well,” Cavs SG Rodney Hood told TMZ Sports outside Craig’s in L.A.
The mental wellness program — the product of almost a year of discussions between the league and union that began as the sides were working out the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — will allow players to seek treatment and counseling outside of the framework of their individual teams, if they want. Existing team physicians and other resources will still be available to them, too. The new director will have authority and a significant role for players who seek his help. But it is not clear if the director will have the ability to unilaterally decide if a player dealing with a mental wellness issue should not play in a given game or games to deal with those issues, regardless of what the player’s team medical staff may think.
Dooling will report to the new Director of Mental Health and Wellness, serving as liaison between players and the program resources. “I can respond and I’m still pretty relevant,” Dooling said. “I played against most of these guys. They see a safety net in me. I’ll be providing them with support and resources. We’ll be able to respond in real time, not only doing preventative stuff, but infrastructure that will outlive all of us … in 20 years, this program will be further advanced than it is now. It will be able to help not only ballplayers but society in general. If we start taking it seriously, society will follow that. We have the capacity to scale our model. The most important thing is to get that director in place so we can grow organically.”
The Indiana Pacers, for example, hired Dr. Chris Carr as their Team Performance Psychologist in 2011. He has an office at the team’s practice facility, and frequently travels with the team on the road. “I think he’s a tremendous resource for all our guys,” Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard said Sunday. “At some level, everybody uses him for a sounding board, some deeper than others. We give our players full access. We talked about it early, and our players feel like it’s important, too. Not only do we give them the resource, but they have to use it.”