UPDATE: We have to correct some information here. The Wizards actually replaced their assistant athletic trainer in 2008-09, before drafting John Wall, in addition to adding another staff position. We regret the error.
The Washington Wizards medical department is a source of deep and ongoing unease for most fans. From a laissez faire approach to Gilbert Arenas' rehabilitation to letting John Wall play injured basically his entire rookie season and everything in between, there isn't an overabundance of confidence in the resident sawbones. So when I read Michael Lee writing about Rashard Lewis' rehab difficulties...well, you'll see:
"He was killing me that day," Mack said later. "He was hitting threes, going to the rim, dunking. I think he kind of rushed into it. Trying to embarrass me, he kind of got himself hurt."
Lewis left the court and realized that his knee problem was more serious than thought. "I didn’t know the significance of a bone bruise," Lewis said last month. "I went and Googled it on my phone and it said, it could be from weeks, to months, to a year for it to heal. Took synvisc shots. I took every possible step."
So, a player concerned with putting health first discovered he had committed a serious misstep by using the Google machine after the fact.
You may not be aware of this, but the Wizards replaced their assistant athletic trainers at the beginning of the John Wall era, retaining head trainer Eric Waters. Waters received the NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year Award in 2009/10, after Aaron Nelson of the Phoenix Suns the year before. Yes, those Suns.
In theory, the training department has been turned over, retained its most respected member and had two seasons to settle in. It's fair to ask to what degree the inmates were running the asylum. Andray Blatche kept coming back too soon, or in bad shape (usually both). John Wall and Trevor Booker seemed to be playing hurt every other week.
Competitors compete. And when the multimillion dollar athletes brought in to resurrect a franchise (with whom you must establish a rapport) insist they want to be out on the floor doing work, standing in their way is a tricky proposition. However, with owner Ted Leonsis' proclamation of the Wizards' 'plan to be GOOD' comes increased accountability, and that impacts every professional associated with the end product.
Rashard Lewis is, for now, still on the roster, as is Andray Blatche. Trevor Booker and Nene Hilario have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Effort has obviously been made to improve the training staff, and how ready to go the aformentioned players are next season will be a data point for how far the staff has or has not come. The Wizards are a hyperkinetic team built on high motor players who always go the extra mile, which brings us to today's poll.
The 2012 NBA Draft Lottery takes place on May 30th. T minus 9 Days, and counting.