Michael Sweetney RumorsAll NBA Players
What Sweetney kept inside during his NBA years was a heavy depression stemming from the death of his father. Now he understands that he never took the time to properly grieve or process a traumatizing event. But as a 20-year-old rookie whose weight ballooned to sabotaging digits, he was going through the basketball motions under intense pressure, repressing feelings he would later understand only through counseling. “Food was my drug. That was my cure,” he told the Washington Post last year.
“I can say it was one of the hardest things ever,” Sweetney told the Daily News. “New York is the top media market and being under that microscope playing for the New York Knicks and being the ninth pick in the draft — a lottery pick — a lot is expected of you. If you don’t live up to it, the hatchet comes down on you pretty hard. On top of going through issues behind closed doors, there was really no good outlet. And it broke me.”
Sweetney can recall how Metta World Peace was mocked for thanking his therapist after winning the championship. That was less than seven years ago. “Everybody laughed at him and called him crazy. I was just like, ‘Wow, no.’ It was huge that he had that help and somebody that got him through. He had a breakthrough with somebody,” Sweetney said. “People didn’t see it that way, they assumed he was crazy. I’m sure they don’t think that now, the stigma starting to be gone. But at that time, people laughed at him.”
But money isn’t the only thing driving the formerly hefty Knicks power forward in this wild, new 18-and-over pickup event called: “The Basketball Tournament.’’ Regaining his health and happiness is foremost. Sweetney told The Post his NBA career was derailed because of a long and undiagnosed bout with clinical depression, causing him to eat too much and not take care of his body.
The 32-year-old only recently got professional help when he received the diagnosis. His weight still is at 320 pounds and he will wear a size 5XL jersey when he mans the post Saturday for the Baltimore-based “City of Gods’’
“I don’t think I was honest back then, but I’m now open to be able to say everything that happened was my fault and I own up to it,’’ the 6-foot-8 Sweetney said. “I was in a bad depression, didn’t eat right or work out enough and I ate myself out of the league. I’ve just owned up recently to the problems of depression. I think I was in depression mode for years and I didn’t get proper help. I was in denial.’’