Tom Thibodeau scoffed at device that helped monitor players’ health—report

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Several NBA teams are using tracking devices to monitor player movement and fatigue in an effort to avoid injury.

The Golden State Warriors are at the forefront of this technological movement, as spelled out in a fascinating report by NBA insider Ken Berger of CBS Sports.

The device can also detect whether a player is leaning a certain way when he cuts, jumps or lands, or whether he’s favoring one side vs. the other – possible early indicators of injury, muscular imbalance or movement dysfunction that can be addressed proactively with training and therapy.

A few different companies make devices, and several NBA teams are buying in, the report states.

The Mavericks, Warriors, Rockets, Grizzlies, Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Kings, Spurs and Raptors are among the NBA teams that used Catapult this season. Zephyr lists the Pacers, Timberwolves, Thunder and Suns among its NBA clients. The Cavaliers, Golden State’s opponent in the NBA Finals, also use Zephyr to monitor their players.

Hmm. You notice one team missing?

Well, not all coaches. At a presentation on wearable technology organized by coaching agent Warren Legarie last year in Chicago, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau raised his hand. Everyone in the audience knew where this was going. Thibodeau, fired last week by the Bulls and replaced by Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, had resisted overtures from Bulls management to employ wearable technology to monitor players’ recovery, league sources said.

The report quoted Brian Kopp, the president of North American operations of Catapult, a leader in the tracking-device industry.

He was basically challenging it, like, ‘Michael Jordan didn’t need that,’ Kopp said. Fair point, but one of the most amazing athletes in the entire world, I would argue, would’ve benefited, too. There’s a reason why they call it old school, because it’s been replaced by new thinking.

This could explain why Thibodeau laughed when asked on ESPN Friday morning about Kyrie Irving’s minutes. Irving left Game 1 of the NBA Finals with a knee injury after playing 44 minutes.

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