Team success within the NBA is often determined by on-court results, but for each athlete to reach optimum performance, years of work and planning come into play. That’s where the Kings Sports Medicine staff comes in.
Thanks in large part to constant learning, a strong passion for the field, and over 50 years of experience between Director of Sports Medicine Pete Youngman, Head Athletic Trainer Dr. Manny Romero, and Assistant Athletic Trainer and Manual Therapist Aung Aye, the Kings sit among the upper echelon of Sports Medicine teams in the League.
According to Romero, for the past 12 seasons, Sacramento has ranked in the bottom five for games missed due to injury in the Association – a testament to the preventative efforts put forth by a team that has worked tirelessly at their craft. Romero and company are hopeful to not only continue, but to surpass their League standing in the category in coming seasons.
Though many fans may only have glimpses into the world of these staff members, their work rarely stops between medical care for Kings players throughout the season, extensive preparation and collection of medical and injury information during the offseason, and evaluation headed into the rigor of an 82-game season.
“It’s a year-long job,” said Romero, who also touched on the hectic nature of the regular season in general. “We have practices daily, we have games, we have travel and even on the off days for the athletes, they still come in for treatment and to be seen by us to keep them healthy. We don’t really have days off once the season starts.”
Although the strains of working with an unrelenting schedule can be overbearing for many, the staff constantly radiates positivity and gratitude.
“We all enjoy what we do,” said Aye. “It’s a fun position where we get to work with these great athletes and apply our trade to help them succeed. What we’ve been saying down here is ‘too blessed to be stressed’. Whether it’s the guys or the staff, we’re all lucky to be here. We’re all still living the dream.”
As the Kings strive to build perennial on-court winners, the Sports Medicine staff contributes in any and every way possible – especially when it comes to NBA 3.0 initiatives that continue to push the envelope of heightening player performance.
“Every offseason we look at new tech that comes out. We evaluate the technology and see if we can infuse it into what we’re doing,” said Romero.
New equipment the staff will be implementing in 2017-18 include wearable physical therapy devices and VR technology focusing on tracking player movement.
“Every offseason as a staff, we get together and conduct research and innovation sessions where we look at anything new coming out and revisit things,” Romero said. “If you’re not current, and you don’t do your homework and have an evidence-based practice that includes research and innovation, you’re going to get passed.”
The work ethic of the Sports Medicine Team continues to pay dividends when it comes to player health and player performance – areas that prove to be crucial in the building of a winning franchise.
“It’s something special,” said Aye. “It’s going to be something that’s going to grow especially with our coaching staff and with our players…we’ve got a lot of hope.”