Article reposted from Sacramento Kings
Author: Shahbaz Khan
It’s 1 AM ET and the Sacramento Kings have just landed in Washington D.C. Just hours prior, they’ve pulled off a blowout victory in Brooklyn. Between players, coaches, staff and media, two buses plus a truck carry the conglomerate and their belongings.
This is no small task. We’re talking well over 100 pieces of luggage and equipment that has to be unloaded in their D.C. hotel. Upon arrival, Kings staff help unpack the massive amount of baggage – organizing equipment and aiding hotel stewards assign player belongings to each appropriate room.
It’s a tedious and tiring process – especially taxing on the road as the team travels through different time zones, climates and venues. But it’s one that’s expedited due to the planning set in place months prior. Between Kings Director of Sports Medicine Pete Youngman, Head Equipment Manager Dwayne Wilson and Assistant Equipment Manager Miguel Lopez, preparation for this date alongside every other throughout the 2016-17 season began in mid-August.
Youngman, who has been with the Kings since 1993, is in his fifth season as the Kings director of sports medicine. Previously, he served as the organization’s athletic trainer for the previous 15 years. In addition to his role, Youngman is responsible for the schedule and coordination of many aspects of road trips, which includes buses, hotels, practice venues, meetings and food.
“He’s the point guy for the whole organization,” says Romero of his long-time colleague. “What people don’t realize is he schedules travel and what it entails and encompasses. He covers all facets of it.”
Romero is another essential piece to the day-to-day operations on and off the court. Alongside Aung Aye, head of manual therapy, the duo is crucial to the prevention of injuries, the management of players’ health and pre and post-game rehabilitation.
“Everyday we do some sort of therapies for the athletes to make sure they stay at the optimum health possible to perform at a high level,” says Aye.
On the road especially, it takes constant readiness between the staff to coordinate times to rehab players efficiently and effectively. With each player needing treatment every day, the Sports Medicine Staff is on constant alert of changes and inventing necessary treatment plans.
“Everyone gets their different bumps and bruises,” says Aye. “So whichever treatment we’re going to do, we have to look at how much time we have, how much rest they’ve gotten and what’s the least invasive way to get a treatment done and be effective. Then, we look at the next day’s (schedule) and decide how to attack those days and whether we want to lighten or strengthen those days.”
As with most cases of NBA life, preparation is key for the staff.
“An athletic trainer sees danger ahead and tries to stay ahead of it – that’s kind of our mantra,” shares Romero.
“We travel with modalities that we don’t use daily, but in case something happens we have the apparatus to help with that potential injury management,” added the Kings head athletic trainer. “We have 15 bags that have, you name it, for the ‘just in case’ moments – we always are ready with equipment.”
As the sports medicine staff stays prepared for every potential outcome of grueling NBA life, the equipment staff’s arrangements keep all parties, from players to coaches to fellow staff, ready for the road.
Dwayne Wilson and Miguel Lopez are responsible for the management of the hundred-plus pieces of baggage the team travels with on road trips. From jerseys to medical equipment to player shoes and personal belongings, Wilson and Lopez are crucial to the lives of all team members.
“We know what uniforms we’re wearing for every game at the beginning of the season,” says Wilson. “We’re able to plan long ahead of time once we see the schedule and as the games draw closer, we prepare by setting things aside we know we’ll need.”
Much like the sports medicine staff, Wilson and Lopez must also be in the know with each man on the team’s roster regarding their day-to-day preferences away from home. Between practices, events and games, the tandem stays aware of everything from shoes to accessories that every player likes to have.
“It’s about knowing what they want,” says Lopez. “We have to know which shoes they want for practices, which for games and anything else they might want.”
Adds Wilson: “We want to be in a position where anything we’re asked for, even when we’re expected not to have it, we can say ‘yeah, here it is’ and that’s happened often.”
From Wilson and Lopez to Romero, Youngman and Aye, Kings staff are in constant communication, preparing for any and every possible outcome and event on trips. In collaboration with coaches, players and fellow colleagues, the Kings road trips are full of moving pieces, executed seamlessly by team staff through constant preparation and planning.