Although Dave Joerger is in his first year as an NBA head coach for the Memphis Grizzlies, he is fully aware of the stress that customarily comes with coaching a professional sports franchise.
So much, in fact, that Joerger recalled becoming so fatigue from having invested countless hours to his job as a coach in the Continental Basketball League, that he nearly passed out on the court during a game.
Joerger was responding to the frightening incident involving Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who collapsed on the field in Reliant Stadium during halftime of Sunday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts with the Texans leading, 21-3. The Colts rallied to defeat the Texans, 27-24, sending Houston to its sixth consecutive loss.
According to multiple media reports, several members of Kubiak’s family said the 52-year-old coach was “feeling good” Monday morning, although he is expected to spend at least another 24 hours in the hospital. Upon being admitted to the hospital, Kubiak — whom doctors said did not suffer a heart attack — was treated for tissue plasminogen activator (or tpa), an IV designed to break up blood clots, medical sources said. As for when Kubiak, the Texans’ second head coach in team history, will return is uncertain.
Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who has served as head coach for three different NFL teams, was promoted to interim coach in Kubiak’s absence.
After collapsing near the 24-yard line, a number of medical personnel rushed immediately to the aid of Kubiak, who lay on the surface for several minutes before being strapped to a stretcher and taken off the field. While doctors expect Kubiak to make a full recovery — they ran additional tests Monday to determine if he suffered a stroke – Joerger said he can attest to the situation involving Kubiak, although he said he was not aware of what happened until after the Grizzlies’ hour-long shoot around at the team’s practice facility Monday morning in preparation for their game against the Boston Celtics.
According to a report on NFL.com late Monday night, doctors said Kubiak suffered what they described as a mini-stroke.
“I have no idea,” said Joerger, when asked if he is aware of Kubiak’s incident. “I didn’t see anything.”
Still, Joerger said he sensed that Kubiak’s sudden collapse may have occurred, in large part because of the lengthy hours professional head coaches routinely devote to game-day preparation.
“I’ve almost passed out before (on the court),” said Joerger, who coached a number of minor league teams between
1997 and 2007 before joining former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins’ staff for the 2007-2008 season. “It’s the stress that you don’t know about. You’re working your tail off and you’re competitive and you’re trying to get after it and trying to get your team after it and trying to leave it out there, every single drop of your energy, just like the players are. So I can see it. It almost happened to me.”
As for how professional coaches should go about trying to prevent such incidents that occurred Sunday night at Reliant Stadium, Joerger said it’s just a matter of his peers making it a point to be more proactive, particularly as it relates to experiencing a possible burnout.
“When I got home from the Dallas game (early Sunday morning),” I went to bed at 5:30 am,” said Joerger, alluding to Saturday night’s game at the Mavericks that took place less than 24 hours after Memphis’ home opener against Detroit. “That was my day.”