Rubio-shock, the basketball champion leaves the NBA due to depression: “My mind has entered a black hole”


By John

«June 30th was one of the hardest nights of my life. My mind went into a black hole.” Thus begins the message on X by Ricky Rubio, 33 year old Spanish basketball player, 12 years of militancy in the NBA with the shirts of Minnesota, Utah, Phoenix. Rubio has made official the termination of the contract that now tied him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mental health problems the explanation, which had stopped him since last August, preventing him from playing.
«One day, when the time is right, I would like to share my experience with all of you so I can help others to face similar situations – wrote Rubio, world champion in 2019 with his national team, silver at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and bronze in Rio in 2016 – I’m still working on my mental health. But I am proud to say that today I feel much better and that I am improving every day.”
Stress, burnout, depression, performance anxiety. There are many sports professionals who have had to face the “black hole” from which Rubio is trying to escape. The last of the champions stopped by the ghosts of the mind was the Olympic breaststroker Adam Peaty. In March 2023, the Briton announced his retirement from racing to take a break, which lasted seven months. Which he used to overcome the rejection of the daily internal and external pressure to overcome oneself.

The other cases in the world of sport

Before him, the king of the pools Michael Phelps, record holder of Olympic gold medals, his Australian counterpart, Ian Thorpe, and other swimming greats such as Ryan Lochte faced similar problems in swimming. Gigi Buffon also said she suffered from depression when she was young, as did Federica Pellegrini from panic attacks. Battles against depression like those faced also by those accustomed to loneliness and fatigue on a bike, like Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, Tom Dumoulin and Gianni Bugno, or to exhausting duels on a tennis court, like the Japanese Naomi Osaka and Australian Ashleigh Barty. But those vortices that suck up strength and will have also been encountered by champions with a team behind them, such as Andres Iniesta or Josip Ilicic, and even before Paul Gascoigne, perhaps the most famous athlete of all time suffering from chronic alcoholism. In some cases the epilogue of these stories was tragic, as for Kelly Catlin, a cycling champion, who ended up in a spiral after two falls which in 2019 led her to suicide at just 23 years old, the same end chosen by the national team goalkeeper German Robert Enke.