The Los Angeles Lakers have parted ways with their head trainer after their 2020-21 season was derailed by injuries, particularly those to Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the Lakers did not renew the contract of Nina Hsieh, who has served as the team’s head trainer for the past two seasons.
Coming off a brutally short offseason, the Lakers were only healthy and in a groove for the first month and change of the season. Anthony Davis — who dealt with nicks and bruises from the jump — missed 30 games after suffering a calf/Achilles injury on Feb. 14. (A re-aggravation that wasn’t totally surprising). He missed 36 games overall.
LeBron missed 26 games due to a high ankle sprain after Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill fell on his leg on March 20. It marked the longest injury absence of his career.
Neither star was able to remotely approach 100 percent for the playoffs. Davis suffered a knee sprain in Game 3 of the first round versus the Phoenix Suns, then a subsequent groin strain in Game 4, which proved to be the final nail in the coffin for an unpleasant Lakers season.
After Game 6, Davis specifically noted how his groin injury was connected to the knee strain. He was “medically cleared” to play in Game 6, though was obviously hobbled and was forced to leave the game early in the first quarter.
Throughout exit interviews, GM Rob Pelinka, head coach Frank Vogel, and multiple players expressed confidence that the Lakers had a championship-caliber roster had they been able to stay healthy.
Last week, Lakers legend and studio analyst Robert Horry told The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo that the most important change Davis can make to his game is hiring a new (personal) trainer.
“Get rid of his trainer.. I don’t know if he had the same trainer from the moment he came into the NBA. And if he has, he needs to get rid of him because his trainer is not preparing him for 82 games. I know last year was 72 and they had a shortened offseason, but I’m just talking about overall, because he’s had a history of injuries.”
More changes within the Lakers’ medical program are expected, per McMenamin.
As ESPN’s Baxter Holmes noted, the league-wide injury rate was at a record-high in 2020-21 as a consequence of the condensed schedule, negligible practice time, and demanding COVID-19 protocols.
After news broke of Kawhi Leonard’s latest knee issue before Game 5 of the Los Angeles Clippers second-round series vs. the Utah Jazz, LeBron went off on the NBA for the onslaught of injuries this season.
Hsieh began her Lakers tenure over a decade ago running the health and wellness program for the Lakers’ G League squad. In 2020, she became the first woman to be the head athletic trainer for a championship team in the history of American major pro sports.