- The Los Angeles Lakers did not renew the contract of head trainer Nina Hsieh.
- Hsieh worked for the Lakers for over a decade before her unceremonious dumping.
- The Lakers title defense fell way short due to repeated injuries to key personnel.
The Los Angeles Lakers were ‘one and done’ NBA Champions after their lopsided first round beatdown by the Phoenix Suns. The primary issue was their inability to stay healthy–Anthony Davis pulled up lame during the playoff series with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso also less than 100%. The Lakers had to go through the NBA’s ‘play in’ nonsense due in large part to the absence of LeBron James for 26 of the team’s last 30 games. Anthony Davis missed 36 games this year and the roster as a whole missed a total of 201 games.
You think this would motivate the players to take their offseason conditioning and in-season workouts more seriously, right? Guess again–the pampered babies of the NBA aren’t about to take responsibility for their own physical conditioning. Instead, the Lakers decided to throw their head trainer under the bus. Head trainer Nina Hsieh didn’t get her contract renewed after more than a decade with the franchise in a variety of roles. She was the first woman to be a head trainer on a US championship team in one of the major sports.
This has become a ‘go to’ move during the Lakers’ LeBron era. After a long run of stability during which Gary Vitti was the head trainer for more than 30 years–during which the team won 9 NBA championships–Hsieh is the second trainer to get the axe in the brief run of LeBron James in LA. Marco Nunez was pink slipped in April 2019 after three years as head trainer. The team is taking a holistic approach to absolving the players from responsibility–the Lakers are reportedly ‘restructuring its approach to player health’ which sounds as if they’re going to bring in more functionaries to pin the blame on when players can’t stay health.
Even with Hsieh taking the fall it’s doubtful she had anything to do with the Lakers’ injury woes as Bleacher Report points out:
While Hsieh may take the fall, it’s hard to ignore that James is 36 and has missed 27 games in two of the past three seasons, or that Davis has been prone to injuries in the past and has never played more than 75 games in a season.
And then there’s the major elephant in the room, the compressed NBA schedule this season that has been widely blamed for the rash of injuries to star players throughout the regular season and playoffs.
Based on LeBron’s Twitter rant posted below he’s pinning all of the blame on the compressed NBA schedule:
Presumably when LeBron apologizes to the fans for not ‘seeing all your fav guys right now’ he’s referring to himself. In between all of the self congratulatory back patting he’s got a point. Then again, the players knew that a compressed season was coming due to the COVID-19 pandemic and could have taken a more proactive approach to conditioning. It’s not that the league has this big vendetta against the players–they just did what was necessary to get through the pandemic. This is also part of the inevitable trade off when a team sinks most of their financial resources into one or two players–the team’s depth suffers and should injuries sideline the superstars the reserves just can’t compete.
Maybe the Brooklyn Nets will fire *their* trainer after the season since it’s obviously his fault that Kyrie Irving doesn’t take his job seriously or that James Harden can’t stay out of strip clubs.