Los Angeles Lakers' Injury Problems Costs Millions but Could Be Solved


Twenty-four hours in a day. Sixty minutes in an hour. Forty-eight minutes in a game. Every second counts. Yet there's often only one athletic trainer on the sidelines of an NBA game. With 15 men and millions of dollars on the line, the athletic trainer is hardly an entire crew, but there are times when the short full-time staff of an NBA team might act against the best interests of the team itself. The Los Angeles Lakers seem to be in one of those situations. With Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash injured, along with Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake and Xavier Henry dealing with various physical ailments, it seems that the Lakers medical staff has lost control.  Over the past five seasons, the Lakers have lost over $45 million to games missed due to injury, including $18 million last season in a year described by trainer Gary Vitti as his worst season in 29 years, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.  Sadly the nightmare continues, as the club has already lost $14 million due to injury and will easily pass last year’s total with Nash and Bryant expected to miss several more weeks recovering. (All data on injuries and salary courtesy of Jeff Stotts ofRotowire.com.) In fact, it's become a joke. "Did the Lakers somehow get the Timberwolves' luck from last year?" I was asked by one of B/R's smart basketball minds. Rather than blaming this on luck, I think there's actually a much different cause and a much simpler solution.  The Problem Back in 2004, while I was at Baseball Prospectus, I came across what looked like a line in the data. Above a certain point of injuries, the season seemed to get away from a medical staff, and there was a rapid acceleration in overuse and traumatic injuries. It seemed there was a breaking point where the medical staff simply couldn't handle the workload. After extensive discussions with athletic trainers around the league, it became clear that this was not a competence or luck issue. Instead, it was very simply a man-hour problem. There were only so many hours in the day, and at a certain point, the rehabilitation and maintenance programs overtook the preventative programs, leading to an increase in injury rate.  That quickly became a vicious cycle. More injuries would occur, adding to a workload that was already too great. I termed this a "death spiral," though on the other side, there's another point beyond which a team doesn't go. Healthy players don't suddenly become injured outside the scope of probabilities, so the death spiral never speeds to the terminal.  Being nearly a pure man-hour issue, though one that is individual to each team and staff, there's a simple cure: add more men (or women).  The medical staff for most teams is one or two athletic trainers. These highly qualified, hardworking medical professionals are simply overworked. While they have help, most of it is part-time. To read the full and original article from bleacherreport.com, please click the following link:  http://bit.ly/JKAP0A

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