Athletic trainers are in charge of implementing COVID protocols, on top of everything else they already do. It's a whole lot of work in an era where players get treatment round the clock, and the trainers spoke up about all the extra responsibilities they have. With that in mind, Richard Jefferson and Paul Pierce compared their days and today's NBA.
Things used to be different. Jefferson explained in his time, there were two trainers on the team, and one of them was the equipment manager. That was it. Back then being a veteran had a lot more perks.
“That's why they'd crack jokes about, if you were a young player, don't even think about getting on the table. You need room for veterans.”
Richard Jefferson, The Jump
What used to be a trainer and an equipment guy is now a 10 to 15 person team. Remember, staff salaries don't count against the cap. One way to gain a competitive advantage is to invest in coaching and performance staff. Here's a list of positions on the 76ers Medical and Performance staff
- medical director
- head team physician/othtopedics
- assistant athletic trainer & physical therapist
- head athletic trainer
- sr. physical therapist
- head medial physician
- team chiropractor
- neuromucular therapist
- massage therapist
- assistant team physician
- director, sports science
- strength and conditioning associate
- executive chef
- sous chef
- jr. sous chef
- head strength & conditioning coach
- head strength & conditioning coach, Blue Coats
- kitchen porter
- remote dietitian
Despite the fact health and performance staffs have grown tenfold, Paul Pierce has sympathy for them. They might have a lot more colleagues helping out, but there's also a lot more work to get done. Some of that work, according to Pierce and Jefferson, is because players today are "needy."
I will tell you this about the players now, they're more needy, also. Seriously, I remember my last dance, players would come in and get with the trainer if they had a bad toenail or something. Like, seriously?
Paul Pierce, The Jump
As someone who started to play in 1998 and finished in 2017, Pierce witnessed the change in players' pregame routines. When he started, players would come in early to put up shots or hit the weights.
Now everybody come in at 8 a.m. to get on the table. There's more demand and more work for him.
Paul Pierce, The Jump
Jefferson pointed out an interesting nugget - a lot of these treatments are mobile and players could do it on their own at home. But, they still opt for coming to the facilities and have someone else do it for them.
I find the photo of Embiid eating a hamburger while getting treatment before a game a perfect illustration of the game today. On one side, you have players load managing and putting pressure on teams to invest in a lot of people and equipment because the season is hard to play through. On the other hand, you have Shirley Temples and junk food.
Kinda' counterintuitive, don't you think?