August 3rd, 2020
Dr. Ben Nwachukwu: Sports Medicine Surgeon, HSS & Medical Consultant, NBPA
Today I came out of quarantine and I can't even begin to tell you how happy that made me. The NBA was incredibly hospitable and I ate more in quarantine than I do at home but there is nothing like having your relative freedom. I started off the day with a Team Physician 8:30am call to go over bubble and player health issues. Luckily seems like things are under control and I did not have to immediately mobilize.
As with any "first day on the job" - I had to get oriented to all of the little details. Luckily I had an excellent chaperone Dr Carlan Yates (Team Physician OKC). Carlan was one of the medical architects of the NBA bubble and was instrumental in the organization of game coverage. Carlan shared folders, screenshots and tidbits from where to get food, to how to schedule and coordinate an MRI. He even patiently walked me through all 3 main arenas and the medical equipment, inventory and emergency kits. I felt like I was in the MTV Medical version of cribs. I was amazed at how much thought and effort had been put into player safety and felt well supported to plug into my game coverage duties.
On my first day I ended up covering 4 games. I thought going into the games that the crowd noise would be weird or that the guys wouldn't "bring it" with no crowds. Boy was I wrong!! Clearly the players know what is at stake and the reality is that with the world being starved of professional sports this is a grand stage. It also sank in that with the eyes of the world on the players it was critical that myself and the NBA player health staff do everything we can to avert injury and promptly diagnose and triage injuries should they occur.
Day 1 was capped off by the thrilling Utah Jazz vs LA Lakers game. After the game, myself and the other medical staff covering the game waited to make sure that all players were accounted for and that there were no issues. By the time I got back to my hotel it was 12:30am, I was tired....but all I could think was "Let's run it back." Can't wait to wake up and do this again.