Most people are familiar with the medical conditions that professional athletes leave the sport with – concussions, sprains, broken bones, back pain, depression – but many are not familiar with the conditions that athletes enter the sport with. One of the biggest conditions is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea in sports is common and it makes sense: athletes are often much larger, taller and have more muscle mass than the average person, which can increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Shaq has famously battled with sleep apnea. Football legend Reggie White’s death was attributed to complications from sleep apnea. And as basketball season picks up again this year, we are meeting a lot of new and exciting young talent, like Anthony Bennett – who also happens to have obstructive sleep apnea.
Anthony Bennett – a power forward who was drafted as a freshman from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas – already has a lot of distinctions under his belt that are making him a burgeoning star in the NBA. He is the first Canadian born number one overall pick when he was drafted to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers last June. He was born and raised in the crime and gang infested neighborhood of Jane and Finch in Toronto, Ontario. Bennett is also an incredibly gifted forward – with some comparing him to Larry Johnson; the 6 foot 7 inch tall forward who played for the Knicks and Hornets throughout the early 90s. Anthony Bennett is six-foot-eight and weighs 240 pounds – a perfect candidate for sleep apnea.
Bennett’s sleep apnea was announced by Cavaliers coach Mike Brown – right before a pre-season game with the Detroit Pistons. In that game, the Cavaliers killed the Pistons and Bennett landed a total of 12 points – including a three pointer. But just like any rookie newly inducted into the NBA, there are a lot of fans rooting for him and a lot of detractors. Bennett – while he is talented – is also a bit of a wildcard and an unknown. Perhaps, though, his obstructive sleep disorder can explain and even forgive some of his shortcomings. Indeed, Bennett’s struggle with sleep apnea has most likely negatively affected his performance – sleep apnea in sports often does affect an athlete’s performance – but certainly not his raw talent for the sport.
It’s been tiring to watch him because every time I watch him he’s (gasping)…It makes me tired, so I try not to look at him.”
– Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown
One of the biggest concerns for Bennett hopefuls is that he isn’t fully in NBA shape. Before the pre-season began, Bennett hadn’t played a game since last April – he also took a break from the gym. The reason for this hiatus was attributed to a shoulder injury in May and his struggles with sleep apnea. Even his coach and other teammates have noticed him struggling for breath when he is in the gym or during pre-season games. His coach, Mike Brown, remarked that he can barely watch Bennett gasp for breath on the sidelines. It probably doesn’t help that Bennett likes to stay up late and party – this according to his coach. Combine that with the exhilaration of being a newly minted millionaire and all the spotlights, and you could have the perfect recipe for disaster.
Over the years, though, Bennett has proved himself dedicated to the sport, which many don’t see changing now that he is in the NBA – past performance usually dictates future performance. As for his conditioning, his coach and many others are sure that he will be more and more in shape each game he plays this season; they are also putting him on a weight loss regimen. Sleep apnea in sports often contributes to an athlete being overweight. Most importantly, regardless of how hard he parties and how late he stays up, Bennett is fastidiously sticking to his nightly CPAP treatment. For those with obstructive sleep apnea, Anthony Bennett is a model example of why it is so important to stick to CPAP therapy. And as the 2013/2014 NBA season gets underway, Anthony Bennett is one of those players we’ll all be watching – and hopefully rooting for.
- USA Today Sports. Eric P. Mull. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anthony Bennett poses for a portrait during media day at Cavaliers Practice Facility.
- USA Today Sports. David Richards. 2013. Anthony Bennett (left) has a lot to learn, but Cavs head coach Mike Brown is more than willing to teach.
- NBAE via Getty Images. David Liam Kyle. 2013. Cleveland Cavaliers 2013 Draft Picks Introductory Press Conference.
*It is believed that the individual listed above has sleep apnea. No person or persons listed above has endorsed Easy Breathe, Inc. or the products we sell and we have no intention of implying that. We hope you enjoy.