Player minutes and health are a hot-button issue in today’s NBA. But, what about coach health? Is any one tracking Tom Thibodeau’s well-being?
On Feb. 23, Minnesota Timberwolves were playing against the Houston Rockets when Jimmy Butler went down with an injury.
A great deal has been written speculating that a heavy minutes load may have contributed to this injury. The assumpiton may or may not be true, but the conjecture will continue as long as Tom Thibodeau is head coach.
What is undeniable: all human beings regardless of their athletic acumen, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status perform their best with proper rest (sleep), exercise, and diet.
On Feb. 25, Howard Beck’s “The Full 48” podcast interviewed Jeanie Buss, the controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. Beck and Buss discussed a plethora of subjects about the team, including Luke Walton.
"Jeanie Buss said “I made sure that our training staff, they train Luke as well. They make sure Luke stays in shape, that he doesn’t sacrifice his health because we need him to stay healthy for the long run. I know what happens with coaches, they don’t sleep, they watch too much film, they eat bad food, they make poor choices, and they stop exercising and we’ve made sure Luke takes a holistic approach, we need him to stay physically healthy, mentally healthy.”"
As Bill Oram outlined in a December 2016, Orange County Register article, Josh Wright holds a position with Lakers as assistant to the head coach. The Lakers employee Wright to manage the fitness of its coaches, and specifically head coach Luke Walton. Walton’s training regimen includes swimming, water aerobics, yoga, weightlifting and beach volleyball, among other things
Oram explained further:
"The 29 coaches who don’t have the luxury of a team employee monitoring their physical activity and diet are their own watchdogs – with varying degrees of success. Personal accountability can be tough in a profession that often demands 90-hour work weeks and offers not even the illusion of job security."
Oram quotes former Timberwolves coach and executive Kevin McHale who was also longtime Boston Celtics star and former head coach of the Houston Rockets:
"“All those things you’re trying to do get put on the back-burner to just getting your team ready to play and dealing with whatever crisis. And believe me, when you’re coaching, there’s a daily crisis. … Most coaches aren’t kids anymore. You’re an old man and you’re on the same schedule as these 25-year-old kids. It never bothered me when I was 28. It bothers you when you’re 58.”During Darren “Doogie” Wolfson’s ”Scoop” podcast on Feb. 15, former Timberwolves employee Bill Hohenecker told stories about spending time with his close friend Flip Saunders who passed away at age 60.Hohenecker discussed Saunders passion for the game, generosity towards others and their mutual love of Mountain Dew, eating barbecue and consuming cake on the way to the airport. He also shared a humorous story about Flip falling asleep during car trips together as a result of a lack of rest.Related Story: Dear Tom Thibodeau: Please play your benchHohnecker’s describes Flip Saunders as a wonderful person but who didn’t seem to put his health as his high as a priority as serving others. Saunder’s isn’t the first or last highly driven person who sacrificed their health in pursuit of reaching a collective dream.Lakers owner Jeannie Buss was right to assign staff to protect her coaches health, they signed him to a $5 million contact, with the intent he’ll return Showtime to Southern California.Journalists, bloggers, podcasters, talking heads and average civilians are paying attention to every minute logged and the overall conditions of our favorite NBA players making millions of dollars.Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was correct to ask the question who is paying attention to her $5 million a year coaches health? She made the smart decision to hire staff to watch and guide Luke Walton to make sure he stays healthy for years to come.The question for Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau is, who is monitoring their $10 million-a-year coaching asset’s minutes and health?Next: The Towns vs. Davis debate rages on...The Wolves have invested double the amount the Lakers did in their coach, and it’s important that someone is tracking his minutes and health. Otherwise, he may not be available when they need him the most.Published on 03/10/2018 at 10:00 AM CDTLast updated on 03/10/2018 at 10:00 AM CDT “All those things you’re trying to do get put on the back-burner to just getting your team ready to play and dealing with whatever crisis. And believe me, when you’re coaching, there’s a daily crisis. … Most coaches aren’t kids anymore. You’re an old man and you’re on the same schedule as these 25-year-old kids. It never bothered me when I was 28. It bothers you when you’re 58.”"