The Cleveland Cavaliers are through to the Eastern Conference Finals for a fourth consecutive season thanks to a 4-0 sweep over the Toronto Raptors. While there were several exciting takeaways from Cleveland’s series against Toronto, there was also one that was a bit surprising.

Late in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s Game 4 matchup in Cleveland, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue called on a few of his reserves, as the team was leading by quite a wide margin (30 points at one time). For reasons still a bit unknown, Rodney Hood declined to engage.

Hood, now 25 years of age, struggled to find a rhythm in Cleveland’s series against Toronto. Through the first three games, the former Duke Blue Devil scored two points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field in 39 minutes of action, which is certainly uncharacteristic from a player of his caliber. Furthermore, he recently lost his spot in the rotation to rookie Cedi Osman.

Cavs general manager Koby Altman met with Hood Tuesday morning to give him a chance to explain himself. At that time, there were some reports indicating that Hood might be suspended for refusing to enter the game, but no penalties came to fruition.

Via Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports:

The Cavs’ front office and Hood had a conversation Tuesday morning, and Hood feels badly for causing a distraction at a time when the focus should be on Cleveland’s sweep of the Raptors and spot in the conference finals.

Rodney Hood, LeBron James, Jordan Clarkson


So… why did Hood refuse to enter Monday night’s game? Farmer Jones, a contributing editor for SLAM Magazine, brings up an interesting point in a recent tweet. Jones was reminded that Hood sometimes deals with anxiety and stress. Although these claims are not verified, they are worth considering.

Hood was a huge supporter of Kevin Love’s mental health movement earlier this season, which could be a clue. And in a recent interview with TMZ Sports, the former Duke Blue Devil noted that athletes — on whatever level — are indeed human.

“A lot of times people don’t look at us as humans, and we go through stuff all the time as well,” Hood recently told TMZ Sports outside Craig’s in L.A.

According to Daniel Carp of the Duke Chronicle, Hood actually suffered from a couple of freak illnesses during games in his 2013-14 season with Duke. There were a couple times during the season that trainer Jose Fonseca would need to rush a cooler to Hood so he could vomit. It wouldn’t affect him, however, says former teammate Amile Jefferson.

“It’s happened to him a couple times this year. I guess it’s nerves, but once he gets it out of him, it just happens and he’s back in there,” sophomore forward Amile Jefferson said. “It’s not something that derails him, so we know when it happens he’ll be out one, two, three plays and we have guys that come in to pick him up.”

Rodney Hood

Grant Halverson

In another example, Hood reportedly got sick during a pre-draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets back in 2014 as well, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. He was unable to scrimmage, and no one knows if that affected his draft stock at all. Clearly, however, this is an issue that Hood has unfortunately had to deal with and play through in the past.

No one, however, knows for sure if this is what led him to be unable to play at the end of Game 4 against the Raptors. Tyronn Lue said he had a good talk with Hood prior to Game 4 about his role with the team, and since he hasn’t given the Cavs any character issues, there’s some reason to believe this may have played a factor. The fact that the Cavs didn’t issue any sort of fine or suspension for the incident only supports that.

“This is not him as a person at all, he’s a team player and wants what’s best for the team,” a source familiar with the discussion told Joe Vardon of “He truly feels sorry for this even being an issue.”

Now that it’s been dealt with, coach Lue says he and the team are past the incident. Hood is talented player who is still trying to find his role with the Cavs. Let’s see if these next couple of days off can help Hood can get back to form. The team will have a bit of time to sort this situation out, with their earliest chance of playing again coming on Sunday afternoon either against the Boston Celtics or the Philadelphia 76ers.