Austin Daye says mother’s illness distracted him last season

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Dealing with myriad issues last season, including his mother’s battle with multiple sclerosis, weighed on him. He admitted he couldn’t compartmentalize as well as he should’ve and instead of the game being his sanctuary, it became another source of something he couldn’t control as well as he’d like.

"It was a lot of stress, a lot of stuff, issues," said Daye, 24. "And also the basketball, it’s life. I think a lot of people think because you’re a basketball player you don’t have real problems."

More than anything, I empathize with Daye. He’s taken plenty of criticism about his mental makeup, including from me. This is a good reminder that we don’t always know what’s going on with these players, and it’s unfortunate Daye had go through what have been a challenging season regardless with the added weight of his mother’s illness.

But in professional sports, the athletes who succeed are the ones who can get past issues like these. There is a never-ending supply of people who want to play in the NBA, and some of that group can handle personal setbacks better than others. The NBA isn’t waiting for those who can’t, especially players like Daye, who haven’t fully proven themselves as viable NBA players in the long term.

I’m not saying that’s right. I’m saying that what is.

There is plenty of room for  a discussion about the role of humanity in sports and how different the workplace should be treated than in other industries. I’d like to have that discussion. I’d like to see change.

But for Daye’s sake, I hope he can adjust – because he can do it quicker than the league’s culture.

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