Winston Churchill once said “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”.
For 19 years the Portland Trail Blazers had stuck to their head athletic trainer Jay Jensen. But his ways have been in scrutiny after two major players went down because of knee injuries ( Brandon Roy and Greg Oden).
Brandon played the most minutes of any Western conference player and played the most minutes of any player during the 2009 season. Brandon Roy’s knees were a ticking time bomb; he had this problem way back in college. He could have extended his career for two more years if he played limited minutes and had undergone preventive measures.
In a span of three years (2009-2012) the Blazers have players missed games more than any other team in the NBA. So the Portland organization has to make a quick move. They hired the 26 year old Chris Stackpole that many dubbed as a cutting-edge hire.
Chris was a doctorate degree in physical therapy and a Bachelor of Science degree in athletic training at Boston University. He served his internship with the Oklahoma City Thunders way back in 2011. He was the one who transformed Kendrick Perkins into a defensive machine, helping Perkins lose 32 pounds in the process. It was also the same season that the Thunders went on to win the Western Conference finals.
Normal practice days you can see the Portland players wearing heart monitors. The monitors not only gauge their heart rate but it also knows how much energy they have exerted. Chris would know which player is fatigue and needs more rest. He uses techniques which players never experience it before.
He films players and see how they jump, trying to see how each player bend their knees while leaping. The big difference is that each player is evaluated individually instead of doing it as a group.
This isn’t “money ball” type of statistics, attention to details and embracing change made it possible.
Even with two or more superstars in a team, it doesn’t guarantee you anything. A healthy team is always a winning team; a testament to Portland’s fifth overall standing in the West (43-24).
For three years, of bad injuries, a failed draft pick (They choose Oden over Durant) and tons of frustrations. Not everyone got to have a second chance…
Well not everyone got to have Chris Stackpole in their team.