Anxiety and depression can be crippling and Sanders admitted to entering into Rogers Memorial Hospital for this reason recently. Sanders went on to say that "I love basketball. I'll always be playing basketball. But for it to be consuming so much of my life and time right now, that's - it's not there for me. It's not that worth it." The 6'11'' center had grown wary of the people who "change around you" and the way in which "you give up your freedom of speech" because "you really can't say how you feel." All of this and the stress piled up and he decided to walk away from the game for now.
On Wednesday, the two most prominent players on the Sacramento Kings, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, voiced their support for Sanders.
Cousins said he hasn't reached out to him yet, but plans to. Cousins shared an agent with Sanders and they participated in Team USA together. He said the two of them have a "pretty good relationship."
"Support is exactly what he needs. I mean, I don't think a lot of people understand like the mental abuse - like of this whole sport. It's not diamonds and gold every day. So I mean, that's his personal issue. I respect him for being a man about it and admitting to whatever his issue is and, I mean, he has my full support. So I hope he overcomes it and gets back to playing basketball," Cousins told reporters after the Kings defeated the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday.
Although Gay said it isn't something he would do because he loves his work as an NBA player, he expressed his support of Sanders' decision.
"I applaud him for doing something. I think that is very brave of him to give up all that stuff. I mean obviously, we live a very different lifestyle and it's not for everybody, so maybe it was too much for him and if he notices that he needs to step back and do some things for his life, I applaud him," Gay told Sactown Royalty. "I'd rather him be healthy than try to do something and it become locked into something that he doesn't want to be a part of."
Sanders had signed a $44 million contract extension for four years in August 2013. The Bucks reportedly reached a buyout agreement on that contract in the range of $13 to $15 million. He had a little over three years left on the original deal.
If you haven't checked out Sanders' piece in The Players' Tribune, I highly encourage you to do so. It is enlightening, heartfelt and a stark reminder of how delicate an individuals' state of mind can be, even in the most luxurious types of lifestyles. Basketball and sports in general are an escape for many, but fans and the media alike should always remember that the person on the other side of the microphone is in fact a person before they are an athlete or a source of entertainment.