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10 Active NBA Players Who Suffer From Conditions or Disorders

NBA Conditions
Harry How/Mike Ehrmann/Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

Houston Rockets rookie forward Royce White is unhappy with how the team is handling his anxiety disorder, and he’s turned to Twitter to vent about it. On Tuesday night, White released a statement saying, “As a rookie, I want to settle into a team and make progress; but since preseason, the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship.”

All teams must deal with the conditions or illnesses of their players, beyond the injuries that players might sustain on the court. Here’s a look at 10 current NBA players who have openly acknowledged their disorders, and how they’re dealing with them:

STEVE NASH

Nash’s prowess at his age is even crazier when you consider that he has a back problem called spondylolisthesis. It’s a condition “in which a vertebra slips over the one below it, causing muscle tightness and back pain,” according to a 2006 Sports Illustrated article. This explains why when Nash is caught on the sidelines during games he’s lying down and not seated next to his teammates on the bench. He doesn’t want his back to flare up unexpectedly.

RAY ALLEN

It should surprise nobody that Allen seeks perfection. His brilliant three-point stroke is a testament to his hard work and time spent on his jump shot. “I had a borderline case of OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder],” Allen said. “I was never diagnosed, but it was something I was aware of.” How does that play out for Allen? As the Boston Globe explained, Allen has to clean up any loose papers he sees on the floor, incapable of ignoring it or setting it outside of his mind. That kind of focus and attention to detail has benefited him on the court during his long and illustrious career.

LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE

The budding Blazers star missed just two weeks last winter after undergoing a heart procedure to treat Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a condition that causes the ventricles of the heart to contract prematurely, according to ESPN. Aldridge has been dealing with the condition for about five years now, and he had a similar procedure done in 2007 that kept him out nine games. It doesn’t seemed to have slowed him down on the court either, as he’s risen to become one of the best young forwards in the Western Conference.

CHARLIE VILLANUEVA

Villanueva has alopecia universalis, which, in short, means he can’t grow any hair on his body. This wouldn’t ordinarily be a big deal except that in 2010 Kevin Garnett, during a heated moment in a game against the Pistons, called Villanueva “a cancer patient,” which led to an uproar. Villanueva had heard teases and questions his whole life from others, but probably nothing like that one.

RANDY FOYE

What exactly is situs inversus? “That’s the scientific name for the condition of having your organs reversed inside of your body,” explained a science blog. And Foye is one of the rare people to have it. What’s that mean, exactly? While most people’s hearts are slightly left to their chests, Foye’s heart is slightly toward the right. The same can be said for all of his internal organs. The good news is that Foye can live a perfectly normal life with the condition.

JAVALE MCGEE

McGee might be one of the goofiest players in the league with his size and long strides, but he has also had to deal with some adversity off the court during his career: his asthma. Moving to Denver from Washington might actually have helped McGee in that regard, as his asthma, which blocks airways and makes it hard to breathe, might be easier to control at the high altitudes of the Rockies. The early part of his career was slowed by his breathing patterns. “They said I was breathing at like 75 percent,” he said earlier this year. “If you can’t breathe, you can’t do nothing.”

EDDY CURRY

For much of his career, Curry has been a punch line. Chalked up as a major bust, Curry may actually be somewhat misunderstood. In fact, he could be an example of overcoming adversity and medical issues that would have stopped other players in their tracks. Back in 2005, Curry complained about chest pain and had many tests in the subsequent years to investigate a possible heart condition. He kept getting cleared to play, even with regular complaints about his heart health, and he wound up sticking around in the league. Last year he won a championship with Miami before being waived by Dallas this off-season.

CHRIS WILCOX

Heart problems are a serious matter and more common than you might think. So when Wilcox discovered he had a heart irregularity, he had an operation this spring to fix it. The condition kept him out for much of the second half of last season, but he’s returned to the Celtics without a hitch. “This is a blessing for me to even be here right now, so I’m just going to take advantage of the situation and all the opportunities that have been coming my way,” Wilcox said over the summer. “It’s a blessing that I’m able to come back to a team where I can kind of pick up where I left off.”

DELONTE WEST

West is one of the stranger players to come into the league in recent years. And his erratic behavior had some alarmed at times. In 2009, West revealed that he suffered from bipolar disorder, which could help explain some of his questionable lifestyle decisions. “My sanctuary, my place of peace, became the joke of my life,” he said earlier this year. “Right now I’m just a guy who’s trying to stop getting laughed at.” Partly due to distractions West caused, the Mavericks released him just before the season, and he’s currently a free agent seeking a team.

GARY FORBES

Originally, Forbes kept his diabetes a secret out of fear that it would hurt his chances of making it to the pros. Over time, though, he’s come to terms with it. Not only does Forbes have to watch what he eats, but every morning he must check his blood glucose and inject insulin using an insulin pen. It hasn’t posed a problem for him thus far. Right now, though, he’s waiting for his next opportunity: he was waived at the end of last month.

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