Another example of the crossover between professional sports and sleep apnea came to light when it was revealed that a top NBA draft pick was diagnosed with the condition.
Anthony Bennett, the former UNLV star player who was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 27, not only has sleep apnea, but asthma as well. He was diagnosed over the summer, after he’d been drafted. The Cavaliers then arranged for Bennett to wear a CPAP mask at night, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
“Bennett has had some breathing issues during workouts and in preseason games, and him being sometimes winded had been attributed to him not being able to work out as much this summer after undergoing shoulder surgery in May,” wrote Tom Withers for the Associated Press.
For his part, Coach Brown doesn’t blame sleep apnea for Bennett’s struggles during workouts. “It’s a culmination of a lot of things,” Brown said. “The shoulder, he’s been out for a while, he’s got asthma. We’re throwing a lot at him. He’s probably never played this hard against this competition in his life. He’s got sleep apnea and some other things. He likes to stay up late.”
Even more interestingly, Coach Brown himself has admitted that he, too, has sleep apnea. Maybe that provides a level of empathy that helps him downplay any perceived negative effects that Bennett’s sleep apnea may cause for the team.
“We have a couple guys who may have [sleep apnea],” Brown was quoted in the Beacon Journal article. “I think it’s a common thing. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Most sports commentators are echoing Brown’s thoughts and don’t seem to think that the sleep apnea diagnosis will negatively affect Bennett’s professional basketball career.
“We’ll see how Bennett adapts,” writes Matt Moore for CBS Sports, “but in general, the rookie looks pretty good early even with these issues.”
At 6’8″ and 259 pounds, Bennett is a big guy, and has been described as struggling with his weight. But he’s certainly not what would be called obese, and high-profile sleep apnea cases such as his help to dispel the notion that sleep apnea is confined to those who are overweight, out of shape or otherwise unhealthy. The reality is that it can affect any age group, any gender, any body type.
And of course, there’s the case of Shaquille O’Neal, one of the best-known NBA stars of his era. O’Neal has been open about his sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment.
This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.